What's the Right Tooling for Custom Die Cutting?

Interstate die cuts custom gaskets and other specialized products using precision die cutting equipment and high-quality tooling. Part tolerances are a function of multiple factors, including the base material, the die cutting method, and the type of die itself. Tooling types for custom die cutting include steel rule, solid milled, matched metal, rotary, etched, and combination dies. Which type of tooling is right for your application?

Steel Rule Dies

Steel rule dies are made with hardened steel strips (steel rules) whose edges cut or punch sheet and web materials into specific geometries. They are less expensive than solid milled or matched metal dies, and are a great option for die cut parts that do not demand extremely tight tolerances. With steel rule dies, typical close-tolerance tooling is guaranteed to be within ±.010” for parts that measure less than 12”.

Solid Milled Dies

Solid milled dies are made of solid, heat-treated steel for consistent, reliable, and repeatable die cutting. They cause less flexing and distortion than steel rule dies, and may achieve final parts tolerances from ±.005” to ±.010”. Solid milled dies cost more than steel rule dies, but provide greater accuracy.

Matched Metal Dies

Matched metal dies, also referred to as male/ female dies, are recommended for die cut parts where extremely tight tolerances are required. They are more expensive than steel rule dies and solid milled dies, but can achieve final tolerances from ±.001” to ±.005”.

Rotary Dies

Rotary dies are cylindrical in shape and have blades that are machined from a solid blank. They are used with rolls of material or webs for high-volume parts production, and are also used to die cut thin films and other flexible materials that are less than 0.062” thick. Rotary dies can achieve part tolerances of ±.010”. The depth of the cut can be controlled precisely to facilitate kiss cutting, and the cuts are consistent since the dies are machined from a single piece of tool steel.

Etched Dies

Etched dies are made via chemical etching instead of metal machining. During die production, part designs are acid-etched into the metal and unwanted material is removed. Etched dies are used to produce parts with intricate details. They’re less expensive than machined dies, but can die cut fewer types of material and only single layers of material.  Flexible etched dies can also be used in a rotary die cutting process where the magnetic die is placed around a magnetic cylinder. This process is best-suited for very thin films and materials.

Combination Dies

Combination dies or hybrid dies are so named because they combine different tooling types to achieve a specific cut. For example, a combination die may consist of a matched metal die with some steel rule for cutting or punching incorporated.

Custom Die Cutting from Interstate

Interstate Specialty Products uses steel rule, solid milled, matched metal, rotary, etched, and combination dies with state-of-the-art equipment for precision die cutting. To learn how our capabilities support your specific application, contact us on-line or call 800-984-1811.

Tags: Die-cutting

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