What Is Rotary Die Cutting?

Aug. 03, 2022

The first question you may ask when deciding if rotary die cutting is right for your project is what exactly it is. Many people haven't heard of the benefits that die-cutting services offer, and that's okay! In this section, we'll tell you exactly what rotary die cutting is and how it can be applied to your individual job.

Die-cutting Basics

Generally speaking, a die is a tool that cuts the material into a given shape. It is usually made of metal and can cut surfaces such as paper, fabric, adhesives, and leather to give them the desired shape. This will produce many fabric or plastic cuts of the same size and shape.

For example, if a shoemaker wanted to make an exact match set of leather shoes, he or she would use a die cut to cut the shape of the shoes from a larger sheet of leather. In fact, this is how die-cutting began as a common process in the 1800s!

This process occurred when die-cutting machines were used. These machines could be operated manually, which meant that the operator pushed a lever and the machine would cut the material. However, today, it is much more common for machines to be automated.


Rotary Die Cutting Capabilities

Rotary die cutting is a versatile fabrication process suitable for applications ranging from simple die-cut labels and gaskets to complex, multi-layered parts. It can be used on a wide range of materials, including thin metal, plastic, paper, foam, fabric, and laminates, and offers several different die-cutting capabilities, such as metal-to-metal, kiss cutting, and perforating.

  • Metal-to-metal die cutting: For lined or multi-layered materials, the type of die cutting in which the die cuts the design through the entire material, including, but not limited to, the face, adhesive, and backing material layer. The design is fully separated from the web.

  • Kiss cutting: For lined materials, the type of die cutting in which the die cuts the design through the face and adhesive material layers, but not the backing material layer. The design is not fully separated from the web, but can be easily removed from the intact backing layer.

  • Perforating: The type of die cutting in which the die-cut design is held in place on the web material by a series of punched-in holes. The design is not fully separated from the web, but can be easily detached from the material along the perforated lines.

Rotary die cutting presses can also employ multiple cutting stations and dies. This configuration allows for several different operations to be performed in line along with the primary die cutting operation, such as slitting, scoring, and laminating. This approach decreases the need for operator involvement and shortens the lead and turnaround times.

MCT Rotary Die Cutter

MCT Rotary Die Cutter

Material considerations for rotary die cutters

Rotary die cutting is applicable to a wide range of materials, including thin metals, plastics, paper, foam, fabrics, and laminates. The type of web being converted and its characteristics largely determine the optimal configuration and setup of the rotary die cutter and cutting station, as well as the design of the rotary die.

In rotary die cutting, the gap (i.e., the gap between the die cutting drum and the anvil drum) at normal preload (i.e., initial pressure) contributes to the cutting pressure applied to the web as it passes through the cutting station. Adjust the gap to the thickness and compressibility of the material to suit the particular material. If the gap is too small, it may result in excessive cutting pressure being applied, heavier die cuts, and accelerated fatigue of machine components. If the gap is too large, the cutting die may not apply enough pressure to properly cut the web.

The properties of the material also affect the design of the rotary cutting die, such as its cutting edge geometry and bevel angle. Its thickness and compressibility help determine the necessary cutting blade height and angle. For example, when cutting harder and thicker materials, the required blade height is much greater and the angle steeper, while thinner materials require much less height and angle. Multi-layer materials may also require multiple different heights and angles on a single die, while complex or difficult materials may require special surface treatments or coating applications.

The same material properties help determine the type of rotating mold best suited for the application (e.g., flexible or solid). Thinner materials, such as paper or film, can be cut with flexible or solid dies, while thicker, tougher, and more abrasive materials can typically only be processed with solid rotary dies.


Rotary vs. flatbed vs. laser die-cutting

If you've heard of flatbed or laser die cutting before, it's critical to understand how rotary die cutting differs from them.

Rotary die-cutting is different from flatbed and laser die-cutting. Rotary die cutting uses a cylinder to cut the shape from the material, while flatbed dies cutting uses a hydraulic flatbed press to cut the desired shape from the adhesive or any other material you want to cut. This is useful for small batch projects but inefficient for large batch projects. Rotary die cutters can make more cuts at one time than flatbed die cutters.

Laser die-cutting is completely different from flatbed and rotary die-cutting. In it, a laser is used instead of steel to create the desired shape. The light from the laser burns into the material and creates a variety of shapes. While this works well for some materials, other materials will react poorly to the light. Some adhesives may be destroyed in the process.

IECHO is a global intelligent cutting solution supplier for the non-metal industry. Based on technological innovation, IECHO provides professional products and technical services to more than 10 industries including Composite materials, Printing and packaging, Textile and garment, Automotive interior, Advertising and printing, Office automation, and Luggage. 

Let us help you decide which method is best for your project! For more details, contact us now.



IECHO is a global intelligent cutting solution supplier for the non-metal industry. It provides cutting machine and digital cutting machine for a wide range of applications.

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