Steel Rule Dies: The Basics

Die Cutting Photo Courtesy of Jonco Industries, Inc.

Every production method has a most basic level of operation, the level that started the trend or made the process popular enough to want to create alterations for specific applications. When it comes to the die cutting industry, the most basic technique involves steel rule dies. Working like a stamp, but one with sharp edges that pierces all the way through a material, steel rule dies are able to quickly and efficiently create die cut shapes for a variety of applications used in many industries.

Although known as the conventional die cutting process, steel rule dies are able to create complex shapes in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Called “steel rule dies” because they are almost always made of steel, the material strength of the die as well as its razor sharp edges allow it to pierce through a many materials. Rubber, plastic, leather, fabric, thick foam and softer metals such as aluminum are all commonly produced by way of steel rule dies. Industries that benefit from the utilization of this method include the automotive, aerospace, medical, textile, electronics, printing and packaging industries, as well as others. The fact that such a machine is easily able to be incorporated into mass production lines is another reason why this basic method is so popular.

The general set-up of a die cutter utilizing steel rule dies involves a die board where the sheet of material being cut is laid. It is equipped with a layer of rubber, which makes it easier to pop out the product from the die once the cuts have been made. How the machine applies the pressure of the steel rule die varies from manual operation for limited applications to CNC machines whose direction, speed and control allows a steel rule die to cut on a mass production level.