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Introduction to Die-Cutting

Die-cutting is the technique of cutting out designs from cardstock using a machine and a template. The die-cutting process is simple when you know how – but what if you've not used a die-cutting machine before? If you're thinking about purchasing your first machine, or simply want to upgrade your current one, you've come to the right place! But first, to understand what die-cutting is and how it works, let's begin with the basics.

A range of historical dies

Die-cutting wasn't originally introduced to the world for craft purposes  in fact, its original intensions couldn't have been more different! In the 1800s, the shoe manufacturing industry was extremely labour-intensive, requiring the worker to manually cut leather soles for shoes. It was clear that this wasn't the most efficient way of working  not only was it incredibly time consuming, but the soles weren't replicated half as accurately as they needed to be.

Standardised shoe sizes were, in effect, non-existent at that time, and it wasn't until the debut of die-cutting in the mid-1800s that they found a solution for this frittering problem. This new development meant that shoemakers could produce templates for soles to precisely reproduce using a die-cutting machine  and voilá!  mass production was born!

finished projects using dies

It's safe to say that the die-cutting process has been considerably improved and remodelled since the 19th century with the development of technology. Now, die-cutting can be used across far greater trades (most relevantly, in the ever-popular crafting industry!) and can even be accomplished in the comfort of your home. The very first hand-operated home die-cutting machine, the 'LetterMachine', was manufactured by Ellison in 1977. Instead of using a crank as you'd recognise it today, this machine used a lever to push pressure on the 'die sandwich,' ultimately cutting out the die design.

Dies in the '70s were large, chunky wooden blocks with rubber on one side and steel rules depicting basic designs on the other. Today, die-cutting machines are significantly more compact, efficient and, more often than not, multifunctional. But the machines aren't the only things to advance  dies themselves have come a long way too! Now, dies are mostly made of wafer-thin metal and feature complex designs and patterns, providing far more intricacy in cutting.

Range of Die Cutting Machines


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