Many of us might know about the term “die cutting” but may not know what it is exactly. Die cutting’s capabilities are significantly vast and consist of consumer, industrial, and commercial-grade uses, making it highly suitable for an extensive range of projects. Despite its wide range of useability, die cutting is particularly effective for specific needs. Recognising when to employ such a manufacturing method and being aware of its limitations increases your chance of achieving your desired results.

Discover, in this guide, everything you need to know about this manufacturing process.

What is die cutting?

Die cutting refers to the manufacturing process in which a machine cuts out, and mass produces specific shapes using specialised equipment and tools to cut materials, such as fabric, metal, wood, plastic, foam, VHB, and rubber. It is a crucial method employed in the design and creation of custom labels and sticker printing.

History of die cutting

Die cutting has been around for centuries, first starting shortly after the industrial revolution. Its first employment was using a punch to create holes in leather manually. This form of die cutting helped shoemakers create shoes more efficiently and uniformly by being able to create precisely cut pieces of leather. Over the years, die cutting has since evolved to become automated and able to cut various material types. Today, many industries, from medical to electronics products, benefit from the highly customised die cutting capability to create in large quantities.

Types of die cutting

Some manufacturing applications are more suited for die-cutting than others. However, at its core, die cutting is identical to any printing process. It is a highly-precise automated process that allows the efficient creation of multiple identical shapes or designs. Here are some of the most common types of die cutting:

  • Flatbed die cutting: Also known as steel rule die cutting, flatbed die cutting involves a flat sheet, usually plywood, that is embedded with sharp strips of metal. The process typically starts with designing a customised die. Hydraulic presses are then employed to press the die into the chosen substrate. This die cutting process is typically preferred when working with short runs or very thick materials, such as laminates, metal, or leather.
  •  Rotary die cutting: In this process, custom-manufactured cylindrical dies are employed to die cut or convert flexible materials. Depending on how wide the die cutting cavities are needed for the project, printing companies choose between rotary or semi-rotary die cutting. The difference is that with rotary die cutting, the cavities covers the entire circumference of the die, while with semi-rotary die cutting, there are voids which the die cutting equipment account for with servos and electronics.
  • Laser die cutting: Also known as digital die cutting, it does not require the use of physical dies or tools to create forms. The laser die cutting process uses a high-speed laser to cut through the material. Unlike using a physical tool or die, a laser can make more detailed and intricate designs. However, they have a slower top speed compared to rotary die cutting processes.

Choosing the best-suited die cutting process for your project needs

Depending on your project needs, the preferred die cutting method differs. For mass production, especially when working with heavier materials, flatbed die cutting is usually the preferred process. Rotary die cutting can easily cut through materials, such as sheet metal, plastic, and fabric, offering high-volume projects quick turnarounds. Laser die cutting is perfect if you have intricate designs that require high-precision work.

Pros and cons of die cutting

Die cutting offers a ton of advantages to projects, such as:

  • Affordability: Die cutting is an incredibly affordable manufacturing option if you need to mass-produce. Once the printing company has the required die, the cost for the order sizes depends on the material being used.
  • Customisability: Die cutting is highly customisable, being able to adapt to any necessary shapes and designs.
  • Flexibility: Die cutting can work with most materials, even harder ones, such as wood and metal.

While it has its advantages, die cutting also has its disadvantages, such as a limited thickness of materials. Die cutting works perfectly with thin materials, but not thick ones or different materials at the same time.

Die cut labels

At Hillier, we offer die cutting for custom labels. When it comes to labels, there is more to take note of than just their shape. The label consists of three key layers: The top layer (face), middle layer (adhesive), and bottom layer (silicone liner). When the label moves through the die cutting press, the die cuts through only the first two layer but leave the bottom layer intact.


Die cutting is an intricate process that offers customisability and precision. If you have a project that needs such a precise and intricate process, then look no further than Hillier Industries Pte Ltd. Being in this industry for over 40 years, we employ a variety of printing methods on top of die cutting, such as silkscreen printing and offset printing. For more information, you may reach us at