Die Cutting: A Crash Course on This Fabrication Process

Die cutting is a manufacturing-related fabrication process that involves the use of a machine to manipulate the size and shape of stock materials. It’s called “die cutting” because it requires the use of a die. The stock material, such as sheet metal, is compressed against a die using a punch. As the stock material is compressed, it takes the shape of the die.

With origins dating back to the turn of the 20th century, die cutting isn’t a new or modern fabrication process; it’s a traditional fabrication process that’s over a century old. In the early 1900s, manufacturing companies began using die cutting to make consumer products, including shoes. In the decades to follow, die cutting found its way into metalworking industries.

Types of Die Cutting

There are several types of die cutting, each of which uses a unique approach to manipulate the size and shape of stock materials. Through cutting, for example, involves making complete cuts that penetrate all the way through the stock material, whereas perforating involves the creation of many small and shallow holes in the stock material. Other types of die cutting include scoring, straight shearing and creasing.

Equipment Used in Die Cutting

What type of equipment does die cutting require? It really depends on the specific type, with different types of die cutting requiring the use of different equipment. At minimum, though, this manufacturing-related fabrication process requires a die cutting machine — affixed with a punch and cutting tool — as well as a die. Die cutting machines can be powered by either hydraulics or electricity. Regardless, all die cutting processes require the use of a die cutting machine and a die.

Benefits of Die Cutting

Die cutting supports a wide variety of materials. While it’s most commonly performed on metal, it can also be performed on plastic and wood.

In addition to supporting a wide variety of materials, die cutting also offers the benefit of little or no swarf. As you may know, most manufacturing-related fabrication processes produce waste material. Known as swarf or chips, the production of this waste can cost manufacturing companies big bucks. With die cutting, however, manufacturing companies can minimize the amount of swarf produced in their respective operations.

Die cutting supports narrow tolerances, making it ideal for manufacturing applications that require extreme precision. Normal tolerances for sheet metal range from just minus 0.1 inches to plus 0.1 inches. With that said, it’s possible to achieve tolerances of just minus 0.005 inches to plus 0.005 inches with die cutting.

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