How it works: Die cutting

What exactly is die-cutting and how does it work?


Our Heidelberg Platen Presses


Let’s imagine you want to print hundreds of invitations to a big, exciting event, and you want these invitations to be circular in shape (don’t ask me why, they’re your invitations!)…

To achieve this, we would need to cut large quantities of printed sheets down to size and shape, very precisely, and we would need to do it in a way that saves as much time as possible. This rules using scissors out!

For this job, we would use our original Heidelberg machines and a process called ‘Die-Cutting’.


Die cutting ready to go!


Die forme: The blades are hidden within the lines in the foam.








Die-cutting works in a similar way to a cookie cutter: therefore we need a round blade in the shape of your invitation. The ‘die forme’ is made on a wooden backing with a thick foam sheet covering all but the areas where the shaped blade is mounted. The blade outlines your invitation, so when the paper/card is pressed very firmly into the foam, the parts that are pressed into this blade are cut out; as mentioned before, it is very much like a cookie cutter!


Die cutting ready to go!

By altering the depth of where the blade lies inside the foam, you can achieve more than just cutting. If the blade only just reaches the card, and doesn’t cut right through it, you can do some creasing, or perforating (have you considered tear off R.S.V.P slips?). You can even create a forme with lots of varying blades, for cutting, creasing and perforating all at once!



The machine lifts each page individually for cutting.

When the die is made, fixed on to our Heidelberg press, and ready to go, the machine lifts each printed invitation individually, places it over the die, and applies a firm pressure; the blade cuts into the paper. This is a very swift movement, so it wouldn’t take very long to get through your large stack of invitations. The correct shape can then be popped out, and sent to all of your friends!



The shape can be popped out.

Interesting fact: Die-cutting was first used to cut shapes out of leather for shoe manufacturing. We don’t make shoes, but even if you’re not hosting an extravagant event, we can use the die-cutting process for tags, folders, boxes and more. We can die-cut just about any shape! So how about some rounded business cards…?


Example: Packaging for Choc-Affair’s chocolate lollies! Yum!


The examples you can see in the photos on this post are packaging for Choc-Affair. We do many wrappers and tags for this York-based company, and the product packaging pictured are for their very popular chocolate lollies – stir into your hot drink for a particularly chocolatey experience! You can even try their lavender flavoured chocolate!

For more information visit their website:




  1. We need to have a lot of invitations cut for my brother’s wedding. We’re going to have them sent to be die cut. It’s the best way to do it, like you say, it’s extremely fast. A lot faster than using scissors!

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