What Is A Die Cut?

In printing terms, a die is a steel blade that cuts through paper to give it a unique shape or cut-out. Think of a cookie-cutter on steroids.

Functional Dies

There are many standardized dies that a printer has in its arsenal. Just a few examples:

  • window envelope with that rounded-corner-rectangle cut out of the middle of an envelope
  • door-hanger with its hole and slash at the top
  • presentation folder with flaps to make a pocket, and slits to hold a business card
  • the list goes on

In many cases, the client never thinks about the die-cut, because it’s just part of the standard operating procedure for the printer. 

Custom Dies

To make a truly unique printed piece, a custom die can be employed. This involves a higher level of design work, but a die can be strategically placed to “peek” at the content underneath, engaging the viewer. It can take a unique shape that highlights a brand, reinforcing the corporate message. Or it can convey an idea with a creative silhouette. 

The Die-Cutting Process

Die-cutting starts with the design that will exactly cut out the desired shape from the printed piece. The die is created with a sharp thin metal blade and embedded into a block of wood.  The block must be exactly positioned, by hand, onto the die-cutting press. The substrate (paper, label, magnet sheet, etc.) is fed onto the die and pressed against a metal cylinder, cutting out the shape.

Die-Cut Uses

Die-cut print pieces are eye-catching, and often, very clever. They are very effective at visually informing the viewer that this is a special piece. At SmithPrint, some of the most exciting die-cut pieces have been invitations, covers (for corporate reports, magazines, booklets), unique business cards, and promotional pieces such as magnets, table tents, stickers, etc.

We encourage you to work with our expert designers to create a striking piece for your next project.