Digital Cutting Vs. Die-cutting: Which One to Choose?

May. 12, 2022

A simple, effective way to ensure uniform and consistent labels are digital cutting or die-cutting. Each process has its pros and cons and knowing your end goal and the scope of your project can help you determine the most appropriate process.


Digital Cutting

Digital cutting uses interchangeable blades to create the desired shape as directed by a computer program. There are a number of reasons why you may want to cut your appliqués digitally.


Digital cutting allows the user to better control tolerances, which means a higher likelihood of producing a variety of identical-looking products.

It offers a wider range of cutting options, including kiss cuts (cutting through the vinyl base of the label design without cutting through the backing paper), straight cuts (cutting directly through the vinyl and backing), back slits (cutting apart the backing paper for easy removal), creases and perforations.

Digital cutting can cut a wide range of materials, including vinyl, polyester, polycarbonate, and rigid PVC.

It also enables users to make smaller, more intricate cuts that are ideal for complex shapes.

Digital cutting is faster than die cutting because less setup is required and there is no waiting to create special tools. On average, digital cutting projects with Graphics Output have a turnaround time of 7 to 12 business days. Meanwhile, die-cutting has a turnaround time of 10 to 16 business days and can run longer if the project requires special tooling.

PK Automatic Intelligent Cutting System 

 PK Automatic Intelligent Cutting System

Special cutting tools called dies are manufactured at no charge.

Want to change the art on your decals? You can do so with minimal additional cost.

Digital cutting is great for small batches of 1,000 pieces or less or even small batches like simple prototypes.


However, digital cutting also has some disadvantages. For one thing, the kiss cut can be too deep and cut through the backing paper, which can make removing the backing from the applique difficult or nearly impossible. For larger or more complex runs, digital cutting can also become expensive.


For precision digital cutters, cutting overlays to tight tolerances or with acceptably low deviations is simple.

Applications of IECHO PK Automatic Intelligent Cutting System

Applications of IECHO PK Automatic Intelligent Cutting System         


Die Cutting

Die cutting uses a die or blade to create the desired shape. This shape is fixed and cannot be changed once the die is made. There are two different types of die cutting available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.


Thermal die-cutting

Instead of cutting with a blade, thermal die cutting uses controlled heat to melt and separate small sections of vinyl. Because this is a melting process, the cut is not too deep. Creating a die is a one-time cost, so the process is ideal for large repeat runs that do not require new die options. Thermal die cutting can cut multiple parts at once, saving money for large orders of 1,000 or more.


However, thermal cutting has some drawbacks: it can only provide kiss cuts, not cut through liners or backings. It cannot thermally cut materials other than vinyl, such as polyester or polycarbonate. It also has a longer lead time than digital cutting because of the setup process involved including the creation of specific tools.


Steel Ruler Die Cutting

Steel-rule die cutting uses a steel blade to easily cut vinyl and polyester, allowing users to cut multiple parts at once in seconds. This means a lower cost per part for large or repeat orders. In addition, the process is suitable for straight-through cutting.


Kiss cuts can be achieved using this method, but it is not recommended because the process tends to cut too deep into the backing. The blade of the steel ruler dies needs to be bent or cut to size and shape, so it is not a good choice for small, complex designs. The process takes a long time to set up and the initial run will take longer than digital cutting because of the special tooling that needs to be created for steel ruler die-cutting.

Want to know more?

If you are looking for the perfect digital cutting table, check out IECHO Digital Cutting Systems and visit welcome to contact us today or request a quote. 



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