The short answer is that almost any material can be die cut, especially vinyl-based and paper material, which cover 95% of the most popular materials. This means that the stock material you can find on our materials page can be cut in a custom shape around your design.
Whether a material can be die cut depends on its thickness. Die cutting puts pressure on the material. The thinner the material, the more likely it is to tear during that process.
However, different die-cutting processes have evolved over the years, since the invention of die-cutting. Each method has its advantages and may work better for different materials. If you want to learn more about that, read on.
The die cutting process
Die cutting methods have evolved massively. But the traditional die cutting process is still widely used in many industries.
Traditional die cutting
For this, metal or steel dies are formed to the desired shape. This custom die, which looks much like a heavy-duty cookie cutter, is then stamped onto the sheet of printed media to cut the sticker. Such dies are a great solution for mass production or high volume manufacturing of stickers in the same shape.
A custom die, can range in size, from just a few centimetres to over 1 m wide, make from multiple metal forms with sharp edges to cut out shapes incredibly fast. The video below shows a large die, with a wide-format cutting pad, that applies cutting pressure over a wide area and cuts many stickers in a single press.
Creating such intricate dies can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you are looking to produce only a small run of stickers, which moves us onto other methods of die-cutting.
Semi-rotary die cutting
Other types of die cutting arrived as the industry evolved. Semi-rotary die-cutting is a modern take on traditional forms of die cutting and mostly used in the label industry.
Imagine the custom shaped die attached to a large roll. The printed media passes under the roller while the stickers are being cut.
A rotary cutter, like the one above, operates at speeds of up to 200 linear meters per minute, meaning it can cut labels faster than the eye can see. They're typically used on narrow web machines in what's known as a finishing line, which includes a rotary press.
The latest form of die-cutters are digitally operated.
Digital laser cutting
Laser cutting is the latest advancement to create die cuts for stickers There are no steel rule dies, large setup fees or expensive manufacturing processes.
Digital laser cutters take a vector line and cut that exact path, with micron-level accuracy, at high speeds of up to 30 linear meters per minute.
The downside of digital laser cutters is that they are incredibly expensive (think £250,000 +) but once you have one, they are super flexible and mean you can cut any shape without setup fees.
Learn more about how stickers and labels are cut.
Do I need a die cutting machine?
If you want to create your own die-cut stickers at home, you might be thinking about getting a die cutting machine. There are two different types you can purchase: a manual die cutter or a digital die cutting machine.
A manual die cutting machine functions very similarly to the traditional die cutting process. The most well-known supplier is VEVOR. They offer machines starting at £200.
Digital die cutting machines are more flexible as you can digitally control the die cut shapes of your sticker. Market leader Cricut offers its die cutter starting at £200 as well.
On top of your die cutting machines, you need to find the right materials. This can largely depend on the manufacturer.
Die cutting can put pressure on your sticker materials. That means thin materials are more likely to tear than other materials. Choosing thick materials and a die cutting method that does not put too much pressure on a single stress point means you are on the safe side.
Does that sound like too much hassle? Then outsource the manufacturing process of your stickers. Simply check out our die cut stickers page, place your order and lean back. We've got you covered.
Or maybe you want to learn more about the world of die cut stickers? Then these articles are the perfect next read:
- Are vinyl die cut stickers weather resistant?
- What's the difference between die cut and regular stickers?
- What size do you order die cut stickers in?