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When it comes to packaging, the die cutting process is far from straightforward. If you’re looking to achieve a unique packaging option for your company, this term in and of itself may be completely unfamiliar to you! Thankfully, at BoxGenie, we know this process like the back of our hand and are here to guide you through it. So read on to learn everything you need to know about the die cutting process in packaging, why you may need a die, and how to get one for yourself! Also, take a look at our ultimate packaging guide.

What Is A Die?

Let’s start off with the basics: what is a die, anyway? No, we aren’t talking about the cubed object that we use when playing Monopoly or another childhood board game. Instead, we are talking about a steel ruled tool with a unique layout that can cut and otherwise design packaging products quickly and efficiently. Creating your own die is ideal for high-volume orders for brands that desire unique and custom packaging options to wow their customers

Even though the initial cost of a unique die will set you back at first, this method of cutting is extremely efficient, and the product will last you a long time if it is properly made. So think of a custom die as an investment in your online business

Packaging is an area that many new business owners tend to forget about, but it should never be overlooked! Instead, think of it as the first impression a customer gets regarding your product and brand. If you want it to be a positive one and lead to repeat business, then investing in quality protective packaging by using a die is definitely a solid investment that will pay for itself in no time at all. 

How Is A Die Made?

Die making is a very intricate and interesting process. So how does it work? 

  1. The process starts with an electronic rendering of the layout of the packaging, including sizes, folds, perforations, etc.
  2. Based on the electronic rendering, a copy of this drawing is burned into a piece of wood using a laser cutter. Along the way, specifications are made based on the type and thickness of steel that is needed in each area in order to end up with the desired result. 
  3. The steel rules that will actually cut the packaging material are sent through a rule bender so that they are now in the specific size and shape needed for the design. 
  4. The cut and shaped steel rules are then manually pounded into the original laser-cut board in specified locations.
  5. Once all the steel rules are in place, foam rubber pieces are placed along the die to help the rules form to the packaging material to cut and/or shape effectively. 
  6. The die is then tested to ensure that it achieves the desired cuts and shapes per the original rendering. 
  7. From there, you have your finished die and can get to work in creating your custom packaging! 

Types Of Cutting Rules

Many people assume that a die is only able to cut right through a raw material. However, the rules on a die can be broken down into many different types that each affects the raw material in different ways. Here are some of the different types of cutting rules that are used on a die:

  • Through cutting: This is the type that immediately comes to mind as it cuts right through the packaging material. 
  • Scoring: This type doesn’t cut all the way through the material and instead leaves an impression indent or even a partial cut to create a single stress point. 
  • Creasing: This type creates a fold line on the packaging material to create two parallel stress points that contribute to the raw material’s greater flexibility. 
  • Perforating: This type creates a line of small holes in the material so that it remains attached but is easily detached along the provided line if needed. 

The rules are designed and measured depending on the thickness of the packaging material in addition to the flute size, whether it be the thickest size A at 5 millimeters or the thinnest size F at 0.8 millimeters. 

Methods Of Die Cutting

Even though you may think of die cutting as simply cutting a flat raw material into various different shapes, there’s actually more to it than that! There are many different methods of die cutting that are able to produce a wide variety of results for creative and custom packaging solutions to go along with your wildest dreams! If you can dream it, odds are a die can do it. So here are some of the different methods of die cutting:

  • Blanking: This method slices a flat material at the exterior edge in order to produce a flat edge that is ideal for packaging storage and construction. 
  • Drawing: This method can produce long and thin products by pulling raw material to a predetermined length. 
  • Forming: This method is used to build round components of packaging by shaping raw material on a curved surface. 
  • Coining: This method uses pressurized force to make circular holes in different materials in order to create unique and in-depth features of packaging. 
  • Broaching: This method of cutting is designed for hard-to-cut materials and involves multiple rows of cutting teeth that are able to slice through thick and hard materials to a predetermined shape. 

Die Cutting Techniques: Traditional Or Modern?

Die cutting has been around for almost two centuries, so has it changed much? Sure, even in recent years, it seems that technology has impacted pretty much everything we do. As it turns out, die cutting has maintained a lot of its original features and is still very much a traditional and manual process. 

Despite what you may think, the traditional method of creating a die and using it to cut and shape raw material is still pretty efficient—even as technology is used in every aspect of our lives these days. 

There are two popular techniques used in traditional die cutting: 

  • Flatbed die cutting: This technique involves a flat, rectangular piece of hardwood that contains a predetermined die shape. The die is pressed into the raw material by a flatbed machine in order to affect the shape and size of the material. This technique is ideal for smaller, more intricate designs that require more attention.  
  • Rotary die cutting: This technique involves a cylindrical press that is fitted with dies and is then rolled over the raw material in order to affect its size and shape. Rotary die cutting is ideal for mass-producing large and/or simple designs that are not able to be done as efficiently through the flatbed die cutting method. 

Even though these traditional and manual methods still reign supreme in the die cutting sphere, that doesn’t mean that technology hasn’t found its way in. In recent years, die cutting has become digitized thanks to laser technology that is able to cut raw material without the use of the steel knives that are used in traditional die cutting methods. 

Fast as it may be, digital cutting still hasn’t caught up to traditional die cutting methods in terms of speed. However, it may be an appealing option for companies with low to mid-size orders which may not want to purchase and design a steel die. Digital die cutting is definitely going to be an interesting area to watch to see if it’s able to overtake manual die cutting options in terms of efficiency and affordability in the years to come. 

Creating Your Perfect Packaging

Clearly, there are a lot of different aspects to die cutting that might be pretty confusing and overwhelming to someone new to the packaging game. That being said, it’s definitely worthwhile to educate yourself about this process so that you can create the perfect packaging that can also be environmentally-friendly,  for all your products, big and small.

The good news is that you don’t have to go through it alone. BoxGenie knows everything there is to know about packaging and is able to help you create the perfect design and then the perfect die to meet your packaging needs. 

With our help, there’s no need to worry about learning the intricacies of this process and stressing about whether you made the right choices. We are here to listen to your needs and help guide you through this process toward the end goal of achieving amazing custom packaging options. After all, the less time you spend on this, the more time you can spend on other important aspects of your business that require your attention. 

Final Thoughts On Die Cutting

As you can see, the die cutting process is an intricate ordeal that requires consultation with experts. And while it might seem like a lot of work, it will be well worth it in the end when you have a die that will continuously create the perfect packaging for your products. Just make sure to consult the right experts like those at BoxGenie to make the process as simple and seamless as possible so you can get shipping! 

 

Sources:

  1. https://monroeengineering.com/blog/how-dies-are-used-in-the-manufacturing-industry/
  2. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-product-packaging-marketing-648.html
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/viviannunez/2020/04/21/5-things-small-business-owners-should-prioritize-according-to-a-brand-strategist/?sh=3a8ea65456e9

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Megan D., CEO at SSBD

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