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DIY Die Cutting for Dad with A Letterpress Printer

DIY Die Cutting for Dad with A Letterpress Printer

The technique of die cutting is employed in various industries for cutting thin flat materials (like paper) into particular shapes making use of a steel cutting die. A die cutting equipment can be employed for punching out decorative patterns or shapes to add in a bigger piece, or can be utilized for creating an object’s main shape, which is done by cutting the whole paper sheet in a designed and distinct way. For letterpress printers, die cutting is a method of creating a hole in the paper of a specific shape, employing the presses that are used in letterpress printing.

Similar to letterpress, die cutting highlights paper’s 3D nature and its character as a material. This article presents a brief idea about the process of die cutting, so that you can get more acquainted with the process as a letterpress printer.

Common Ways to Use Die Cutting for Letterpress Printers

Letterpress printers commonly use die cutting in the following ways:

  • Making die cut windows on greeting cards to write messages
  • Greeting cards in unique shapes (like mini-paper sculptures, scallops, heart shaped die cuts)
  • Making the corners rounded in business cards, making hang tags and die-cut coasters

Process of Die Cutting:

Letterpress printers would find the die cutting process to be quite easy, since the set-up for the process is quite like letterpress printing. However, rather than using “type-high printing plate”, the die cutting process uses “type high wood mounted steel cutting die”. Additionally, rather than using tympan packing and paper, which is employed for controlling the impression at the time of printing, die cutting uses a metal sheet over press bed, thereby offering a hard surface to the die for cutting against.

1. The few initial steps are almost same as that in letterpress printing. However, as ink is not used, make sure that the rollers are removed from press prior to starting. This would prevent the dies from damaging the rubber rollers.

2. Then, the die is locked to chase and the chase is inserted in the press, to attach the backing/metal plate to the bed of the press.

3. The cut shape should be taken out (the press bed still has paper taped on it). Slide the mock up beneath, align the mock up with the sample that has been cut, and hold them in place. The required adjustments should then be made, so start cutting and refine your work.

General Advice:

Although by using a die cutting equipment, the results are quite unique, the technique is not applicable for all print jobs. This is a reason behind the process being used less commonly. With die cutting, you can incorporate functional components or decorative elements into a design. The possibilities offered by die cutting are several, but there are also limitations for the technique.

Complex patterns or shapes may not work well (consult with your die-maker or printer). There is a minimum size for elements that are die cut. The die cut’s maximum size would depend on the capabilities of the press that is being used.

Paper also influences the result significantly. Consider this when you choose your paper. The resistance of thin paper is usually low, and it tends to cut relatively cleanly, whereas thick stock may have mushy edges when cut. Cotton paper may have a ragged edge.

There are various decorative projects you can do with die cutting such as the DIY Die Cutting for Dad card that you can make for Father’s Day. So, start planning what you wish to do with the technique, and kick-start your die cutting venture.