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Die Cutting

What is Die Cutting?

Die cutting is a process to cut paper and other thin, flat materials into shapes such as a circle, heart, or star. Smartpress.com has a Motion Cutter laser digital die cutting system, which also allows for perforating, scoring, creasing, and etching.

Though traditional die cutting can be expensive for small quantities, laser die cutting allows for short run die cutting at an affordable price. Instead of having to create a die for each project, the laser can trace the design quickly and easily. Smartpress.com can die cut cards, greeting cards, invitations, business cards, and more. Take a look at the laser die cutting page to see a full product list.

Laser Die Cut Design

With laser die cutting, there are a variety of unique options available.

Die Cut: Die cutting is a process to cut paper into various shapes. More intricate patterns can also be cut into a material such as adding a cutout honeycomb pattern or filigree. When you create a die cut design that has a lot of detail, include enough connecting/holding points so that it will remain intact when the remnants are removed.

Perforation: Very small holes are punched into the paper according to your design specifications. This allows a portion of the paper to be torn away easily where the holes are located, as with a coupon or an invitation with tear-off RSVP.

Score/Crease: Scoring is the process of creasing the paper so it will fold more easily. Crease/score lines are not recommended over printed areas as they will remove ink.

Kiss Cut: Kiss cuts are light surface cuts that go through a single layer of a two-layered material such as stickers.

Etch: Once a design is printed onto the paper, the MotionCutter can remove just the top layer of ink, revealing the original white paper below.

Variable Finishing: Like the variable data printing option, use variable finishing to die cut names and other personalization into each design.

Please note: The laser may cause a slight discoloration on cut edges, but is much less than traditional laser cutting. This effect is minimal and will be more noticeable on white stocks or lightly printed areas with cutouts, and will likely not appear at all on most projects.

Die Cutting File Set Up

There are some extra steps required to set up a successful print file with die cutting. Please take a look at our die cutting file setup pages for Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator. If you have any questions about setting up your file, please contact customer service.

[accordionHead]Laser Cutting Illustrator[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

Smartpress.com offers laser cutting on a variety of print offerings. With our laser cutting equipment, we can die cut both simple and complex shapes quickly and easily at a relatively low cost, compared to other die cutting methods.

Stocks available for digital laser cutting:

  • Premium Gloss
  • Premium Matte
  • Semigloss Card
  • Uncoated Smooth
  • Uncoated Natural
  • Coated Matte – White
  • Eco – Friendly 30% Recycled Coated
  • Feltweave
  • Linen
  • Metallics
  • Silver Foil
  • Kraft – Brown Speckletone
  • Uncoated Apple Red
  • Uncoated Navy Blue
  • Uncoated Black
  • Crack ‘n Peel Sticker
  • Clear Polypropylene Decal / Sticker – Permanent & Removable
  • White Polypropylene Decal / Sticker – Permanent & Removable

It takes just a few extra steps in Adobe Illustrator to set up a file for laser die cutting:

  1. In Adobe Illustrator, create a new layer on top that will contain the laser cut portions of your design. Name the layer “Laser Cut.”
  2. Once this layer is in place, create a new color swatch. Start by clicking on “Window,” then “Color,” then “Swatches.” The Swatch Palette will appear.
  3. Click in the upper right hand corner of the Swatch Palette and select “New Swatch.”
  4. Change the Swatch Name to match the desired line type (e.g. “Dieline” – see guide below).
  5. Use the Color Type drop-down menu to select “Spot.”
  6. Change the Color Mode to “RGB” and adjust the values to match the desired line type (see Line Type Glossary for definitions):
    Digital Laser Cutter CMYK Guide
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 for any other types of lines in your file (dieline, kiss-cut, perforation, etch, etc.).
  8. On the Laser Cut layer, with the corresponding spot color, clearly define the outline of any shapes that will be cut out or etched with a .25 pt. stroke weight. All lines, including perforation, should be solid not dashed.
  9. Make sure to leave at least 2 mm between lines and be mindful to create a design with enough connecting/holding points that it will remain intact when the cut pieces are removed. You may include clipping masks in your printed artwork, but please make sure the laser cut lines do not include clipping masks.
  10. Once your artwork is complete, save as a PDF. Under the “Output” setting in the PDF saving options box, there is a drop-down box labeled “Profile Inclusion Policy.” Select “Don’t Include Profiles,” then click “Save PDF.”

Your file should now be ready for submission. Please note, if you have selected digital laser die cutting and also have multiple versions, there may be an additional charge for file and machine setup when the laser cut files differ by version.

Line Type Glossary:

  • Dieline – A line that will be cut through the sheet (e.g. a shaped outside edge or a cutout inside the piece)
  • Kiss-Cut – A line partially cut through the sheet in order to keep stickers on their backing for a sheet of peel-off stickers
  • Perf (Perforation) – A line of tiny holes that allows for part of a piece to be neatly torn off
  • Etch – A line or outline of an area where the ink will be removed from the surface and the laser will partially cut into the paper to create a depression
  • Crease* – A line where the piece will be scored for folding
  • Variable – Text or numbers for variable finishing (e.g. cutting out names for a direct mail piece)

Resources:

*Crease lines are not recommended over printed areas, as they will remove ink.

[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]Laser Cutting InDesign[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

Smartpress.com offers laser cutting on a variety of print offerings. With our laser cutting equipment, we can die cut both simple and complex shapes quickly and easily at a relatively low cost, compared to other die cutting methods.

Stocks available for digital laser cutting:

  • Premium Gloss
  • Premium Matte
  • Semigloss Card
  • Uncoated Smooth
  • Uncoated Natural
  • Coated Matte – White
  • Eco – Friendly 30% Recycled Coated
  • Feltweave
  • Linen
  • Metallics
  • Silver Foil
  • Kraft – Brown Speckletone
  • Uncoated Apple Red
  • Uncoated Navy Blue
  • Uncoated Black
  • Crack ‘n Peel Sticker
  • Clear Polypropylene Decal / Sticker – Permanent & Removable
  • White Polypropylene Decal / Sticker – Permanent & Removable

It takes just a few extra steps in Adobe InDesign to set up a file for laser die cutting.

  1. In Adobe InDesign, create a new layer on top that will contain the laser cut portions of your design. Name the layer “Laser Cut.”
  2. Once this layer is in place, create a new color swatch. Start by clicking on “Window,” then “Color,” then “Swatches.” The Swatch Palette will appear.
  3. Click in the upper right hand corner of the Swatch Palette and select “New Color Swatch.”
  4. Change the Swatch Name to match the desired line type (e.g. “Dieline” – see guide below).
  5. Use the Color Type drop-down menu to select “Spot.”
  6. Change the Color Mode to “RGB” and adjust the values to match the desired line type (see Line Type Glossary for definitions):
    Digital Laser Cutter CMYK Guide
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 for any other types of lines in your file (dieline, kiss-cut, perforation, etch, etc.).
  8. On the Laser Cut layer, with the corresponding spot color, clearly define the outline of any shapes that will be cut out or etched with a .25 pt. stroke weight. All lines, including perforation, should be solid not dashed.
  9. Make sure to leave at least 2 mm between lines and be mindful to create a design with enough connecting/holding points that it will remain intact when the cut pieces are removed. You may include clipping masks in your printed artwork, but please make sure the laser cut lines do not include clipping masks.
  10. Once your artwork is complete, save as a PDF. Under the “Output” setting in the PDF saving options box, there is a drop-down box labeled “Profile Inclusion Policy.” Select “Don’t Include Profiles,” then click “Export.”

Your file should now be ready for submission. Please note, if you have selected digital laser die cutting and also have multiple versions, there may be an additional charge for file and machine setup when the laser cut files differ by version.

Line Type Glossary:

  • Dieline – A line that will be cut through the sheet (e.g. a shaped outside edge or a cutout inside the piece)
  • Kiss-Cut – A line partially cut through the sheet in order to keep stickers on their backing for a sheet of peel-off stickers
  • Perf (Perforation) – A line of tiny holes that allows for part of a piece to be neatly torn off
  • Etch – A line or outline of an area where the ink will be removed from the surface and the laser will partially cut into the paper to create a depression
  • Crease* – A line where the piece will be scored for folding
  • Variable – Text or numbers for variable finishing (e.g. cutting out names for a direct mail piece)

Resources:

*Crease lines are not recommended over printed areas, as they will remove ink.

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