Die Cutting FAQs: An Advanced Printing Technique 

die cutting

Using advanced printing techniques to your advantage could help your business, organization, or special event stand out from the crowd. One popular technique that can make your print materials look and feel unique is die cutting. Die cutting is a process that produces cut outs, uniquely-shaped materials, and a three-dimensional effect to printed materials. 

What is a die cut, exactly?

Chances are you’ve seen die cuts in the past on greeting cards and restaurant menus. Die cutting refers to the steel die that can carve unique shapes into paper. These dies can be used to produce a multitude of shapes cut-out within paper or to cut the entire piece into a unique shape such as a circle, oval, or square. 

An example of a simple die cut is the cut-out section on a mailing envelope that displays the addressee’s name and address through a plastic window. Die cuts could also be used to create unique edges on greeting cards. For example, printed pieces with scalloped edges are typically the result of a die cut. 

When should a die cut be used?

Die cutting isn’t normally seen with direct mail or catalogues. It is common to utilize die cutting for greeting cards, event invitations, and stationary. Die cutting typically adds decorative elements to print. Silhouette die cutting is particularly useful for evoking vintage appeal while simple cut-outs lend a contemporary or modern appearance.

 Similarly, a die cut can serve a functional purpose, too. Cut-outs may be used to bind materials, create open-ended envelopes, and as knots to hold pieces together. Bear in mind that mailed pieces with die cut treatments should be placed in envelopes to help protect them from tears while they are in transit. 

Are there limitations with this printing technique?

While die cuts can make for stunning print pieces, this technique does have its limitations. One common limitation of this technique is the size of the die. Most of the time, die cutting is reserved for small areas. Different press capabilities can affect the size of dies as well. 

Can any type of paper be used for die cutting?

For the most part, thinner stock produces cleaner die cuts. Thicker stock tends to affect the crispness of the cut portion’s edges because it generates more resistance against the die. Stock made from cotton typically doesn’t make the cleanest cuts either. When in doubt, speak with an experienced printing professional to determine if this printing technique is right for your project. Our team can assist with selecting the best stock for your needs.

If you’re curious about implementing die cuts into your print campaigns, we encourage you to speak with the experts at Pel Hughes. In addition to die cutting, we offer other striking embellishments like spot UV and foil printing that can make your campaigns stand apart from others. 

Pel Hughes is a woman-owned enterprise that serves businesses and organizations in an array of industries. Visit our website or call (504) 486-8646 to request a quote.