//PASTE IN new_header and new_header-no-links

How to Set Up a Laser Die Cutting Digital Design File

by Abbey Fitzgerald | December 6, 2014

SHAREShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+

Sick of the normal square and rectangles? Want to print a custom shape? Laser die cutting is the perfect solution for designing out of the box.

Laser die cutting will give your printed piece a unique look. This is a great way to make your printing stand out from the crowd. From stunning invitation printing to creative business cards, you will be proud to advertise your next event or business.

There really is no limit to the type of shapes that can be printed. Making sure the file setup is correct is very important to ensure that your printing will turn out exactly how you planned. The best programs to use are Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.  Below are simple steps for file setup through these two programs.

Laser Die Cutting Terms to Become Familiar With

Before designing, here are a few key terms to know that explain some of the capabilities of laser die cutting.

Dieline:  Line that will be cut through the sheet – this would include the unique outer edge shape or a cutout within the piece.
Kiss-Cut: Line partially cut through the sheet so that peel-off stickers stay on their backing.
Perf (Perforation): A line of tiny holes are poked in the paper that allows for tear off. An example would be coupons that you tear off of a sheet.
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. Please note that crease lines are not recommended over printed areas because they will remove the ink.
Variable – Text or numbers for variable finishing (e.g. cutting out names for a direct mail piece).

Setting Up Your File

Whether you are working in Illustrator or InDesign, layers are a key component to file setup. This makes it easy for the prepress experts at Smartpress to know exactly how your die cutting should look, yielding the results that you planned.

Adobe Illustrator Setup

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

  1. Create a new layer for the laser cutting in your design. A descriptive name like “Laser Cut” is helpful.
  2. Once this layer is in place, select the lines that represent where the laser cutting will be. These lines should be a set color, so create a new color swatch. Go to Window > Color > Swatches. The Swatch Palette will appear.
  3. Select New Swatch.Die Cutting Example
  4. Change the Swatch Name to match the desired line type. For die cutting, it could be “Dieline” or “Die Cutting Line” and for kiss cutting it could be “Kiss Cut”.
  5. 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.
  6. Use the Color Type drop-down menu to select Spot.
  7. Make sure the color mode is “RGB” and adjust the values to match the desired line type. For die cutting, it would be a blue line with the values R:0 G:153 B:221. For a kiss cut, it would be a green line with the values R:94 G:160 B:59.
  8. Digital Laser Cutter CMYK GuideRepeat steps 1-7 for any other types of lines in your file (dieline, kiss-cut, perforation, etch, etc.). The other line types and their color values can be seen here, and can also be found on our die cutting file setup pages for Adobe Illustrator.
  9. Make sure to leave at least 2 mm between lines and remember 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 make sure the laser cut lines do not include clipping masks.
  10. Once your artwork is complete, save as a PDF. Go to Output > Profile Inclusion Policy and select “Don’t Include Profiles.” Then click “Save PDF.”

Adobe InDesign Setup

These steps will look very familiar from the steps above.

  1. Create a new layer for the laser cutting in your design. A descriptive name like “Laser Cut” is helpful.
  2. Once this layer is in place, select the lines that represent where the laser cutting will be. These lines should be a set color, so create a new color swatch. Go to Window > Color > Swatches. The Swatch Palette will appear.
  3. Select New Swatch.
  4. Change the Swatch Name to match the desired line type. For die cutting, it could be “Dieline” or “Die Cutting Line” and for kiss cutting it could be “Kiss Cut”.
  5. Stroke WidthDefine 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.
  6. Use the Color Type drop-down menu to select Spot.
  7. Make sure the color mode is “RGB” and adjust the values to match the desired line type. For die cutting, it would be a blue line with the values R:0 G:153 B:221. For a kiss cut, it would be a green line with the values R:94 G:160 B:59.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 for any other types of lines in your file (dieline, kiss-cut, perforation, etch, etc.). The other line types and their color values can be seen below, and can also be found on our die cutting file setup pages for Adobe InDesign.
  9. Make sure to leave at least 2 mm between lines and remember 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 make sure the laser cut lines do not include clipping masks.
  10. Once your artwork is complete, save as a PDF. Under the Output > Profile Inclusion Policy, select Don’t Include Profiles then click Save PDF.

These simple steps will ensure that your die cutting file is set up correctly. With all these great finishing options, your printed pieces will be unique. In addition to being cost effective, the ordering process at Smartpress is simple and custom quantities are available.

Was this graphic design tutorial helpful? Get more updates like this by following us on  FacebookTwitterPinterest or Google+.

SHAREShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+

Get On the list!

Be the first to hear about our exclusive offers, latest news, and more. Sign up now.



Affordable, High Quality Prints. Even on the smallest Jobs.

Print With Smartpress.com
займ на картукредит наличнымиоформить карту