Die-cutting in five steps

For the cover of Inspire 56 we used a well-tried and tested technique. Morgan Thiberg of the printers Strokirk-Landströms suggests five important things to think about in order to master die-cutting.

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Let’s begin with a short explanation of the concept for anyone who is not already familiar with it. Die-cutting is a method of making holes in relatively thin materials (approx. 0.1 mm to 8 mm thick). A tool called a cutting die or punch is used to press through the material against counter-pressure from a object called a counterplate or make-ready. Both the die and the make-ready have polished edges with contours corresponding to those that the die-cut object will have. The aim of die-cutting is that there should not occur any break around the cut surface. Morgan Thiberg of the well-reputed printers Strokirk-Landströms in Lidköping, Sweden has extensive experience of projects involving die-cutting. Here he shares some key factors to keep in mind for a perfect result.

1. Motivate your team 
“For a successful result you must really care about what you are doing and have in-depth knowledge. When these factors are present you must also not forget the importance of good communication between the designer and the end customer.”

2. Avoid compromises 

“You will never be fully satisfied if you compromise too much in your choice of materials. It’s better to choose a somewhat more expensive material to raise the end result than to invest money in effects that still don’t give you what you want due to a poorer quality base material. Many people have made this mistake only to then realise that the effect they’ve achieved is – to be a bit cruel – like putting lipstick on a pig.”

3. Think about the next stage

“Important factors when making the make-ready and cutting die are to choose the right materials and to be precise. Another challenge is to know about possible problems that can pop up, such as what will happen with a die-cut magazine cover at the next stage such as folding or stapling.”

Want to take an even deeper dive into die-cutting?
Check out our Reference Manual!

4. Don’t overdo the effects

“The current trend is that many people choose to produce somewhat smaller editions but instead – which is of course fun – they invest more care into each copy of a brochure or magazine by using more special effects. It is important not to overdo the effects so that they overshadow the brand.”

5. Don’t forget how the material is affected

“Precision in placing the cutting die must always be your top priority. You have to keep in mind how other effects like lamination or UV varnish can influence the material during the die-cutting process itself.”

Inspire contact

Charlotte Lagerwald
Iggesund Paperboard
Mobile: +46 73 077 05 59


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