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Top Die Cutting Questions & Answers

Whether you're new to die cutting, need some clarification, or have a specific question in the realm of die cutting, we're here to provide you with some answers!

Find your question below, or by using the content bar on the side to help you navigate.

Also, see the bottom of this page for additional resources on die cutting, including tips and tricks and more! Looking for Die Cutting machines, tools, and supplies? Find thousands of die cutting supplies here. 

What is die cutting?

Die cutting is a broad term, but in crafting, the act of die cutting refers to a process in which you use a machine to mass-produce cut-out shapes. You can create the same shape, with the exact same dimensions, over and over without using scissors, stencils, or a craft knife. It saves time and makes your cut-out shapes look professional and consistent every time.

What is a die cutting machine?

Die cutting machines or card making machines are machines that cut shapes out of paper, chipboard (like cardboard but thicker and more dense), fabric and other materials. Most people who die cut regularly have personal die cutting machines that are about the size of a small toaster oven. These machines can sit on top of your crafting table or work space or can be stored in a small area and brought out when needed. There are even tiny tabletop versions like the Sidekick or Mini Evolution, and compact folding versions like the Sizzix Big Shot Foldaway.

Just like any other appliance or tool, there are a variety of brands of die cutting machines, and each differs slightly from the other. You can also check out this resource for die-cutting machines. It will give you an overview of different styles so you can choose the right machine for your needs.

What is a manual die cutting machine?

Manual die cutting machines are operated with an easy-to-turn crank or lever and use specialized metal shapes to cut paper and other materials. Sometimes these machines will also have a powered component that will help operate the machine with electricity. As the material and metal die pass through the machine's rollers, it applies pressure and the die cuts the paper or other material into the shape of the die.

The most popular manual machines are made by Sizzix, We R Memory Keepers, and Spellbinders.

What is a digital die cutting machine?

Digital die cutting machines are powered by electricity and are controlled by computer software or cartridges. Digital cutters do not require steel dies because they have a blade inside the machine that cuts the paper or other materials. You can select the shape you want to create via a software program on your computer, phone, tablet, or a specialized cartridge for the machine.

The most popular digital die cutting machines are made by Silhouette and ProvoCraft's Cricut. Digital die cutters look like consumer printers and connect to your machine through a USB port or Bluetooth technology, similar to a printer or other accessory. You can purchase digital files you want the machine to cut out or cartridges with pre-loaded images on them!

What is a die?

In die cutting, dies are metal-shaped objects with a raised, sharp area for cutting. They are similar in appearance and effect to cookie cutters - the shape of the die is the shape that will get cut out on your paper.

There are a few different types of dies. Steel-rule dies are sharp and protected with foam or plastic material (for your safety). They are typically more durable as they are designed for cutting thicker materials, or multiple cuts all at once. Thin metal dies are not as sharp and can't cut quite as thick of materials as steel-rule dies can. They look more like your traditional cookie cutter- a metal shape, without any surrounding foam or plastic and are lighter and easier to store.

Dies come in a wide array of sizes and styles. There are basic shapes, words, sentiments, intricate florals, delicate lace, animals, food shapes, and almost anything you can think of. With so many dies to choose from, there’s a die for every purpose and occasion!

What are die cutting machines used for?

Though die cutting machines vary (you’ll want to read the machine specs before purchasing) all die cutting machines cut paper. Most also cut felt, foam, thin fabric, and vinyl- though it’s to be noted that only steel-rule dies can cut chipboard. Some can even cut corkboard, leather, rubber, and sponge!

Die cutting machines can be used to make stickers, envelopes, stand-up cards, gift tags, treat bags, party favors, shaker cards, pillow boxes, and more. They are used by card makers, scrapbookers, paper crafters, quilters and general crafters. They are even used in classrooms to facilitate learning and create projects.

Which die cutting machine is best?

It really depends on what your needs are and what you’re looking for. The Sizzix Big Shot is the most popular manual crafting foil stamping and die cutting machine. However, there are many different machines with many different features, pros, and cons. When purchasing a die cutting machine, it’s important to read the product descriptions and the reviews to see what each machine is best for and what other people have to say about them and their experiences.

If you're thinking about purchasing a die cutting machine or a film laminating machine, this article will help you make the right decision for you. 

Where did die cutting get its name? Why is it called die cut?

The origin of the word dates back to 1300-50, middle English de. In Latin, the word “given” is datum. The word die, as it is today, in this context, presumably, comes from this origin, “given, put, placed” therefore also meaning “played, or cast.”

In that day and age, dies referred to stamping processes like creating coins or casting of items - usually in metal - made from dies. In the 1800's, a new invention was created for mass production - die cutting. The old term "die" (creation by machination) was combined with "cut" (the act of cutting out a shape) to create the term "die cutting". It is unknown who first coined the term "die cutting" which appears in the English lexicon in the mid-1800s. Also, there is UV coating machine.

Who invented die cutting?

Die cutting was invented in the mid-1800s in order to help streamline the shoemaking industry. Since cutting the soles of shoes was formerly done by hand, typically out of leather, the process was time-consuming, laborious, and expensive. The invention of the die cutting machine revolutionized work for cobblers and made shoes much more consistent as shapes were always cut the same size, the same way, instead of by hand. This meant that shoes could now be given standard sizing.

In the early 1900’s, as technology advanced, so did the die-cutting machine. The invention of the hand crank die cutting machine made it possible to have different sizes and shapes of dies, meaning cobblers could create any part of the shoe they needed by machine - and the same machine at that. Shoes became easier to make and also much more affordable to all people.

It wasn’t until 1977 that the first hand-operated die cutting machine for consumers was invented, by Bob and LaDorna Eichenberg, the creators of Ellison. Since then, die cutting machines have grown and transformed alongside the flourishing crafting industry! Cool, right?
  • Created: 11-11-21
  • Last Login: 11-11-21

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