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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 has a MotionCutter 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 creating a die for each project, the laser can trace the design quickly and easily. Smartpress can die cut cards, greeting cards, invitations, business cards and more. Visit Digital Laser Cutting for a full product list.

Laser Die-Cut Design

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

Die Cut: Die cutting is the process of cutting paper into various shapes. More intricate patterns can also be cut into a material such as a cutout honeycomb pattern or filigree. When you create a die-cut design that has a lot of detail, be sure to include enough connecting or holding points so it remains 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 a tear-off RSVP.

Score/Crease: Scoring is the process of creasing the paper so it folds easily. Score/crease lines are not recommended to be added over printed areas, as they will remove the ink.

Kiss Cut: A kiss cut is a light surface cut that goes through one 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, variable finishing die cuts names and other personalization into each design.

It’s important to note the laser may cause a slight discoloration on cut edges. This effect is minimal and will be more noticeable on white stocks or lightly printed areas with cutouts. It will likely not appear at all on most projects.

Die Cutting File Setup

To set up a successful print file with die cutting, follow the steps below for Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator. If you have any questions about setting up your file, please contact customer service.

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

Smartpress 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 low cost.

Set up your 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 by going to Window > Color > 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 the Line Type Glossary below for definitions).
  5. Select Spot in the Color Type drop-down menu.
  6. Change the Color Mode to RGB and adjust the values to match the desired line type.
  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 shape outlines that will be cut out or etched with a .25 pt stroke weight. All lines, including perforation, should be solid not dashed.
  9. Be sure to leave at least 2mm between lines and create a design with enough connecting/holding points so it remains 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 it as a PDF. In the PDF saving options box under Output, there is a Profile Inclusion Policy drop-down. Select Don’t Include Profiles and then click Save PDF.

Your file is now ready for submission!

Line Type Glossary:

  • Dieline – A line cut through the sheet (e.g., a shaped outside edge or a cutout inside the piece)
  • Kiss Cut – A line cut through one layer of a two-layered sheet (e.g., the cut goes through the top layer of a sticker, leaving the backing intact)
  • Perf (Perforation) – A line of tiny holes that allows for part of a sheet to be neatly torn off
  • Etch – A line or outline of an area where the ink is removed from the surface, revealing the original sheet below
  • Score/Crease* – A line indicating where the sheet folds (Note: Not recommended over printed areas, as the line will remove ink)
  • Variable – Text or numbers for personalizing (e.g., cutting out names for a direct mail piece)

Resources:

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

Smartpress 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 low cost.

Set up your 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 by going to Window > Color > 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 the Line Type Glossary below for definitions).
  5. Select Spot in the Color Type drop-down menu.
  6. Change the Color Mode to RGB and adjust the values to match the desired line type.
    Laser Cutting Spot Color Key
  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 shape outlines that will be cut out or etched with a .25 pt stroke weight. All lines, including perforation, should be solid not dashed.
  9. Be sure to leave at least 2mm between lines and create a design with enough connecting/holding points so it remains 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 it as a PDF. In the PDF saving options box under Output, there is a Profile Inclusion Policy drop-down. Select Don’t Include Profiles and then click Export.

Your file is now ready for submission!

Line Type Glossary:

  • Dieline – A line cut through the sheet (e.g., a shaped outside edge or a cutout inside the piece)
  • Kiss Cut – A line cut through one layer of a two-layered sheet (e.g., the cut goes through the top layer of a sticker, leaving the backing intact)
  • Perf (Perforation) – A line of tiny holes that allows for part of a sheet to be neatly torn off
  • Etch – A line or outline of an area where the ink is removed from the surface, revealing the original sheet below
  • Score/Crease* – A line indicating where the sheet folds (Note: Not recommended over printed areas, as the line will remove ink)
  • Variable – Text or numbers for personalizing (e.g., cutting out names for a direct mail piece)

Resources:

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