ShadowGraph Industrial

What are the Different Types of Cutting Options?

Stack cutting, Die cutting, Kiss cutting

Shadowgraph’s in-house printing processes usually involve printing multiple copies of products such as decals, tags or graphic overlays in either sheets or rolls. Once printed they must be separated into individual parts.   Choosing how to cut those products can depend on many factors including the final shape, the size, complexity, material being cut and the quantity.

For basic rectangles without interior cutouts on thinner stocks, stack cutting on a guillotine cutter will usually be the best choice. It can cut through many sheets at a time and process large quantities at a reasonable cost. 

Guillotine cutter

If the item has a contoured perimeter or internal cutouts there are several options available to choose from including steel rule or thermal die cutting, plotter cutting from a roll or digital flatbed cutting on a vacuum table.

Die cutting was created in the 1800’s as a way to accurately cut many pieces of leather for making shoes.  Today it is commonly used in many applications as a way to quickly and accurately cut a series of pieces from a sheet.  A steel rule die is made by using a laser to create very accurate positioning slits in a base material in which a hardened steel blade is inserted.  Then a pad of ejection rubber is adhered to the die base which prevents the parts for sticking to the die.  The die is mounted in a press which uses high pressure to make the rule cut the substrate.

The term kiss cutting refers to cutting an adhesive backed graphic while leaving its liner layer intact.  Kiss cutting can be accomplished with a steel rule die for many materials, but when cutting thin vinyl materials such as decals, a thermal die can be a lower cost alternative especially in more complex designs.  Thermal dies are chemically etched from a magnesium base and use heat rather than pressure to cut through the vinyl.

Great for cutting small quantities, large format and digitally printed decals, a roll fed plotter uses a computer controlled cutting knife to either kiss cut or through cut thin vinyl materials.

The most versatile cutter is a vacuum based flatbed cutting table. The flatbed uses a variety of computer-controlled cutting or routing blades and an optical registration system.  It is a very accurate alternative to steel rule die cutting and can cut a wide range of materials without the added cost of tooling. It can also convert larger graphics that could not be made with a standard die cutter.

Shadowgraph offers many types of cutting for the fabrication of both printed graphics and parts such as gaskets spacers and stencils.

If you have any questions regarding our cutting process or have a specific project you would like to discuss, please contact us directly. We would love to explain how Shadowgraph can assist with your cutting needs.

Contact ShadowGraph for a quote on your next graphic overlay, decal, tag, or large format printing project.