This guide aims to help you get to grips with the basics of die-cutting, looking at its beginnings all the way through to the different types of die-cutting machines available, and how each one functions. After all, being a rookie needn't be so intimidating!
To use manual and electronic machines, you need dies to feed through. Dies are carbonised steel shapes with sharp, raised designs. A die design consists of solid metal, with sections cut out into a pattern or picture. Once cut, your material will replicate the die – the solid sections will remain, while the apertures will be cut away.
The process is simple – the die is placed onto your cutting material (such as paper or card), often taped down, then the whole ensemble is pressed between two plates. The entire 'sandwich' is then passed through your die-cutting machine, sequentially cutting out the design – it's that easy!
Computerised machines have the same goal as manual and electronic machines – to cut out designs from thin materials – however the process is entirely different. Instead of using physical dies, 'die designs' are built into the machine, or the machine is linked up to a computer with a stock of images loaded onto that.
To use these machines, you simply insert your material into the machine and then select your design from the supplied software installed on your PC, or by using a touchscreen on the machine itself. Once selected, programme the machine to cut out the design... and off it goes!