Die Cutting Overview

Die cutting is a highly versatile fabrication process that involves a press and pre-cut form (known as a die), to cut, shear, or deform material into a desired shape. It can be used to create products from a variety of materials, including metal, plastic, wood, paper, adhesives, foam, rubber, fabrics, and fiber composites.

At Elastomer Technologies, we offer an array of die cutting processes to meet the needs of numerous applications. Our state-of-the-art facilities include equipment for flatbed, and high speed die cutting for a full range of manufacturing possibilities. Each method offers unique benefits for particular products designs and materials. 

How Die Cutting Works

Successful die cutting operations depend on proper coordination of three essential components: the cutting unit, the material it will cut, and the cutting tool.

As you may have guessed, die cutting employs cutting tools, usually made specifically for a particular process that can cut patterns across any sufficiently thin piece of material. It can be helpful to think of traditional steel rule die cutting as using a machine with an industrial cookie cutter as the die.

Different cutting/converting operations can be used to meet specific application needs. Some are more often specific to metal cutting and forming; broaching, forming, swaging, blanking, extrusion, bending, curling, drawing, cutoff, roll forming, coining, bulging, laser cutting, and other methods all offer unique features and benefits.

Waterjet cutting is an excellent process for accurately cutting quantities of thicker and thinner materials, using highly pressurized water. CNC programmed oscillating cutter machines can be used to convert many materials.

Rotary die cutting, in particular, involves the use of a cylindrical die on a rotary press. Once a sheet or web of material is fed into the press, various shapes can be cut, and perforations or creases can be made very rapidly. These machines make use of multiple cutting sections on the same tool to die cut certain shapes, allowing for great flexibility.

ETI specializes in traditional die cutting and high speed die cutting using steel rule dies, with some slitting and light stamping processes not focusing on converting metals.

To learn more about the Die Cutting process, read one here.

Die Cutting Varieties

For more than 35 years, Elastomer Technologies has been a premier provider of custom die cutting solutions and offer the following processes to meet the varied needs of our customers. 

Traditional Die Cutting

Our traditional die cutting services offer precise and efficient custom die cutting to your exact specifications. We create components from drawings and sketches and can reverse-engineer parts for existing equipment if specs are unavailable. Our facilities can accommodate components up to 24″ with easy setup and multi-cavity cycling for quick production runs. In fact, we provide some of the fastest lead times in the industry, with four to seven day turnaround on full production of first-time components. 

High-Speed Die Cutting

Elastomer Technologies offers high-speed die cutting for high volume production runs for components made of rubber, plastic, foam, and other low-impact materials. This rotary die cutting process feeds rolls of material into the press, where the shaped dies cut the material into the desired forms. High-speed die cutting is easily automated for more efficient processing, and can be used to create a wide variety of components with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability.

High Speed Converting

Our high-speed converting presses are designed to provide consistent and reliable results for high volume production runs with the utmost efficiency. Ideal for fabrics, rubber, foam, adhesives, plastic films, and light grade metals, our high speed converting can be used to create quality packaging materials, light components, and precision parts. We offer specialized high speed stamping for custom finished components, and automatic high speed die cutting for extra high volumes runs of several thousand parts. 

Types of Dies

We use a variety of die designs and equipment to provide the ideal die cutting technique for your product specifications and materials. Our steel rule, custom milled, and matched metal dies offer unique benefits depending on the product. 

  • Steel Rule Dies: This die cutting method uses pre-shaped steel dies bent into the shape of the desired component. The dies are pressed into the product material, which rests on a die board, cutting the material into the shape of the die. Rubber ejectors on the die board help to remove the cut components from the stock material. 
  • Custom Milled Dies: Custom milled component dies, or solid mill dies, are less flexible than steel rule strips. They use a similar press mechanism, and provide more accurate results than the steel rule method, due to the enhanced structural solidity of the solid die. Although custom milled dies are made from the same steel material, the tooling process necessary to create the solid die makes this a more expensive option. 
  • Matched Metal Dies: As the name implies, matched metal dies are made to intersect on either side of the stock material, allowing the material to be cut from both sides. This allows for extremely precise and repeatable cuts, especially for hard-to-cut materials and large production runs. 

Material Selection in Die Cutting

When selecting the material for your die cutting application, it is important to consider the method you will be using, as product integrity and accuracy can be greatly affected. Die cutting is typically used on easy-to-cut materials such as rubber, foam, plastics, plastic film, vulcanized fiber, and cardboard. Consider the following criteria when determining the best materials for your application and die cutting method: 

  • Material Strength and Hardness: The strength and hardness of your base material will significantly affect the die cutting method used for fabrication, as well as the final product. Hard materials require more firm custom milled dies, whereas softer materials can be easily cut using other methods. 
  • Product Accuracy: For high precision components, select a material that is compatible with more precise die cutting methods. 
  • Production Volume: When considering which material to use for your die cut product, take into account your production volume. For large production runs, you may need a material that can be processed with more efficient or automated methods.
  • Production Speed: The material you use for your die cut product will affect your production speed. High speed or automated methods are better options for production runs within a tight timeline, so consider materials that are ideal for use with high speed methods.

Key Die Cutting

Download Our Free eBook

In our eBook, Key Considerations for Basic Die Cutting, we cover some of the critical points to keep in mind when evaluating die cutting as your process of choice for part production, including cost factors, tolerance considerations, and more.

Download our free guide!

Common Applications of Die Cutting

Die cutting may be used in any industry requiring the manufacture of a high volume of products with uniform shapes, precisely defined dimensions, or complex design elements. Die-cut items can be made of many different materials, including plastic, rubber, foam, fabric, wood, sponge, film, and adhesives.

Allowing for fast manufacturing and high precision, die cutting is the method of choice for various industrial applications. High-speed die cutting, in particular, offers strict quality control, superior accuracy, and optimal manufacturing speed; this technique is ideal for annual volumes exceeding several thousand parts per run. Plus, it can be run automatically depending on the specific material used, reducing overall costs and labor needs.

Because of this, high-speed cutting has become the industrial standard for the production of gaskets, washers, labels, optical films, insulating foams, medical components, vehicle parts, packaging, and many other items.

Custom Die Cutting Solutions at Elastomer Technologies

Elastomer Technologies is committed to providing exceptional die cutting services for our customers around the world. We can produce custom dies for a range of industries and applications. Our comprehensive portfolio of die cutting services includes high speed automatic Preco systems, clicker presses, punch presses, and travelling heads, which allows us to process an extensive range of shapes, materials, sizes, and production volumes. 

To learn how our die cutting applications can enhance your operations, contact our experts today.