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Category Archives: Cutting dies

New Ejection Punches

New to the market-Tube punches with high tolerance brass plunger ejection. The plunger replaces rubber and springs for the same cost. The plunger seems to be much stiffer than springs. It appears it will be great for thicker stocks like chipboard or styrene. It may an  effective replacement for side out punches which may not work in tight areas. Stay tuned for updated info, once we get feedback on these new punches.



Ejection rubber in tight areas

Here is a die we built earlier this week:


Notice the different colors of rubber. It is important to use different durameters of rubber in a die. The red is a medium hard rubber that has been waterjet cut. It is appropriate for thinner stock up to 15 pts on high speed presses such as Bobst, Ijima, Brausse & DGM. The green rubber is called green gorilla and is a much harder rubber used in tighter areas to give more punch to eject material.

We also have began to use an innovative new rubber called Dura Strip. It is great for tight areas such as hanger pack knives or slots. When rubber is compressed, the material has to go somewhere. It usually expands outward. This causes a lot of stress on the steel knives. This stress can bust mitres or joints, blowout slots or just distort steel rule knives. Dura Strip does not expand when compressed so it makes it perfect for tight areas.

The right rubber can make your job easier on press. Rubber can keep your paper from hanging up and help to eliminate nasty nicks in your finished product. It can make kiss cutting easier with less cut through. It can also help your press to run at higher speeds. I have seen press speeds drop from 8,000 sheets per hour to 4,000 with the removal of only a few blocks of rubber.

Let us show you our expertise in dies and rubber can help your die cutting process.


Punches in steel rule dies

Tube punches come in many shapes and sizes. Circular punches are necessary when the diameter of a circle is less than one inch because it is not possible to bend steel rule. The smallest punch is 1/32”. Sizes vary up from there on 1/4” increments. Punches come in different bevels. Center bevel, inside bevel and outside bevel are the different profiles. Inside bevel punches are best for cutting thick stocks because they do not deform the substrate. They are also best for mitres when a cutting rule must butt up to the punch.

Punches eject in many different ways. The majority of punches eject with springs or silicone rubber. Side out punches are typically used on thicker materials and the slugs eject through the side of the punch and a routed trough in the die. Feed through punches allow the scrap to push through the punch. The smallest punch with a spring is 3/32”. Punches smaller than that would be side out. Many people think that the springs are to eject the slug from their material. Although this may happen, any form of ejection is solely to rid the punch of any scrap. If you must eject the chad from your paper, side out is your best choice. Be aware that your press may be lifted by the scrap holes. Amazingly only a small amount of paper pulled into the punch will blow the steel punch apart.

Custom punches come in many shapes, sizes and ejections. Custom punches are machined out of tool steel. Custom ovals, slots, and stars are examples. Metric punches may be custom if they have to be exact. Punches can sometimes be confusing. Please give us a call to make sure you get the right punch for your project.


The proper way to send in dielines

The proper way to send in a die line for a laser steel rule die.

We receive files in many different formats. The preferred format is an Illustrator EPS file. It must be a native file that was originally created in Illustrator. This means that it is a vector file, vectors are lines segments. TIFF, JPEG, Word and GIF files are examples of non-vector files. Many customers convert their files to PDF’s and that is fine as long as the original file is an illustrator file. We also receive emails with both Illustrator and PDF files. It is important to make sure both files are identical.Sometimes instructions are not included on one file and not the other or one file is not scaled to 100%. DXF files also work well. When these types of files are unavailable we can still work from samples, 100% scans and dimension drawings.

What is right reading?

We assume all files are sent right reading from our customers. If you do send your files die side, make sure to indicate this on the drawing and in your email.  There seems to be a lot of confusion about the term right reading. Here are a couple of different terms used:

Right Reading

1.) Print Side

2.) Outside View

3.) Sharps Down

4.) Print side/Front of print


Wrong Reading

1.) Die Side

2.) Inside View

3.) Sharps Up

4.) Back of Print


Kiss Cut Dies

Kiss cutting is very common in the printing industry especially for labels. It is achieved by reducing pressure on the press to only cut partially through the sheet. On label stock, the die would cut through the label sheet but not through the liner. A quality make-ready with a spot sheet is essential for kiss-cutting without cutting through the liner. Kiss cutting is more difficult, but not impossible on cylinder presses due to the unequal forces in the horizontal and vertical directions.

Steel rule kiss cut dies and standard cutting dies are virtually the same with only minor variations. It is very important to have high quality flat wood and that the laser is checked to burn perpendicular to the wood. Any variance in this burn angle could cause havoc in the make ready and probably cause cut through. Rule joints and mitres must be perfect and all rule must be seated flush in the die. Some customers prefer to lower their rule heights, instead of reducing the cutting pressure on the press. Although this works, this could add cost to the die. Odd rule heights are expensive and the die maker’s tooling is usually set up for .937 cut or .918 cut. More intricate and complex designs add additional make ready time and may cause cut-through. This is due to the many bends in the rule made by the die maker’s tooling. Every bend affects the angle of the rule. Excess or uneven adhesive on label stock may cause uneven cutting.

The rubber on the die plays a large role in kiss cutting. Rubber is another inconsistency added to the die. We have many customers who prefer no rubber at all. This works because the stock is not pushed pass the bevel on the knife and does not have to be ejected off the rule. We have been successful in using water jet rubber. Water jet rubber is much more consistent than blocks of rubber. We also have had great success by using lower height rubber that sits lower than standard rubber. This allows the cut to happen without having to push through the rubber.

We also manufacture thermal kiss cut dies. These dies only work on vinyl and cut with heat. They are etched magnesium plates and works a lot like foil stamp dies. The dies are very level and can achieve intricate or simple cuts with no cut through. Heat is a great tool to use. We have many customers who even heat traditional wood steel rule dies to 200 degrees to aid in cutting vinyls and other plastic materials. Make sure your die is very secure and hopefully bolted to the press if you try heat.