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Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting
Illustration by John Hersey
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Examining a cutting die


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Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting

with Claudia McCue

Video: Examining a cutting die

This is probably the first time you've seen a cutting die, so let me explain what's going on here. This is a cutting die that's going to cut out some little cards that have rounded corners on them, so, the job has been printed with the cards in position, 12 up And let's take a look at one of the cards. They're little rounded rectangles. These are cutting blades, so, you might want to think of them sort of like razor blades that have been shaped. And when this dye presses into the paper, it's going to cut out the shape of that card. But you notice that there are other little blades that are attached to the cutting blades, so what do they do? Well, when the card is punched out of the paper, tey need an easy way to pull off that excess paper, the waste.

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Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting
1h 28m Intermediate Jul 02, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Adding a die cut or emboss to your print job can make a striking visual impact; it's a way of sculpturing and increasing a reader's engagement with your work. Learn about the various types of embossing and die cutting as well as the proper ways to set up your documents to achieve consistent results. Author Claudia McCue covers manufacturing concerns like cost, time, choosing the appropriate paper stock, and file formatting; preparing your artwork for embossing and stamping; and then designing your die-cut project in Adobe Illustrator or InDesign.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how dies are created: hand-engraved, machined, or photo-engraved
  • Preparing files for die-cutting
  • Choosing appropriate stock
  • Creating artwork for single- or multi-level embossing
  • Checking proofs
  • Examining a cutting die
  • Handling a complex bleed
Subjects:
Design Print Production Design Skills
Software:
Illustrator InDesign
Author:
Claudia McCue

Examining a cutting die

This is probably the first time you've seen a cutting die, so let me explain what's going on here. This is a cutting die that's going to cut out some little cards that have rounded corners on them, so, the job has been printed with the cards in position, 12 up And let's take a look at one of the cards. They're little rounded rectangles. These are cutting blades, so, you might want to think of them sort of like razor blades that have been shaped. And when this dye presses into the paper, it's going to cut out the shape of that card. But you notice that there are other little blades that are attached to the cutting blades, so what do they do? Well, when the card is punched out of the paper, tey need an easy way to pull off that excess paper, the waste.

So those other little cutting blades allow them to punch little lines into the paper, and easily strip off the excess. And so that's a process called stripping. And that's to pull off that excess. That waste paper. And those little pieces of foam that you see around the blades. Serve as a way to sort of absorb that pressure as that die hits the paper and they keep the paper in position, they keep it from squirming so that the cut is precise. So how does a die like this come in to being? Well you can see the plywood background. How do those blades get in position and those little pieces of foam. Well, in the olden days every bit of this was done by hand. Careful measuring, manual shaping of those blades, mounting those blades in that plywood base.

Now there's a lot of computerized control. So, you see CAD programs that create the dyes and they route little troughs in that plywood and those little troughs serve as the positioning places for those blades. Those same CAD programs also drive machines that bend those blades so things that used to be done by hand are now accomplished by machine, but not every bit of it. Those blades have to be manually mounted in these little troughs. Those little pieces of foam have to be manually positioned but that's not a mechanical process. There really still is a lot of craftsmanship involved in making a die like this.

The die maker has to understand how that die behaves when it presses into the stock. He has to know exactly the right height for that little blade to sit in that little trough, so there's quite a bit of tweaking that happens. So even though we have precision because of computers we still need that artisan, we still need that craftsmanship and that's what to me really makes die making an art.

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