Printing Lingo: What is Die-Cutting?

In the realm of printing, a "Die" is a slender, razor-sharp steel blade meticulously shaped or patterned, much like a robust cookie-cutter.

As a result, "Die-Cutting" involves using this precise die to skillfully cut paper, cardstock, labelstock, or other materials into a myriad of shapes and designs. This technique adds a touch of creativity and uniqueness to printed materials, elevating them beyond standard shapes and sizes.

What is Die Cutting in Printing?

Just like the printing process, die-cutting is an automated operation. This allows multiple pieces of the same shape to be created in an efficient and uniform manner. Also, most printers have a selection of standard dies readily available for common cuts and shapes. However, custom dies must usually be created for any special designs.

Die-cutting is as versatile as your imagination. A die can be used to shape the entire perimeter of a printed piece, or it can be used to just shape one corner or an edge. A die can also cut out a shape or shapes from within the center of a piece.

In addition to cutting all the way through a printed piece, a die can be designed so that it cuts a perforated outline of a shape. Known as Perforated Die-Cutting, this allows the perforated shape - such as an ID card or coupon - to be easily removed by the consumer for use.

Die-Cutting for Promotional Purposes

It's no secret that most print matter has a relatively routine appearance-�being either rectangular or square in shape. Die-cutting offers a way to break this routine by creating interesting shapes, contours, flaps, holes, etc. thereby enhancing the visual appeal and attracting attention. This makes die-cutting a popular choice for printed pieces used in the promotion of a product or business.

For example, a brochure could have a window, a name or logo, or another interesting design cut from its cover or pages. Similarly, a presentation folder could be made with uniquely sculpted edges and pockets. Also, promotional labels, magnets and business cards are commonly created with rounded corners, or in a variety of geometric and custom shapes.

Die-Cut Example: This creatively-designed promotional piece has a contoured edge as well as a uniquely patterned cut-out on the front cover

Die-Cutting for Functionality

In addition to promotional purposes, die-cutting is also used to make a printed piece more functional. For example, a door hanger must have a hole or hook cut into it so it can hang from a doorknob. A mailing envelope often has a die-cut window so that an address or information printed on its contents remains visible once the envelope is sealed. Even the simple business card slits or tabs found in some brochures and pocket folders are created with a die-cutting operation.

If you have a project that requires printing and die-cutting, or would like to learn more about the distinctive appearance and effectiveness of die-cut printing, give Formax Printing Solutions a call at 866-367-6221. We look forward to assisting you with your printing and die-cutting needs.

Take care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221 or by submitting our easy quote request form. Rick and the Formax team have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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