Introduction to Die Cutting

What is a Die Cutting Machine?

A die cutting machine is a machine designed to cut materials, such as paper, fabric, or metal, to a specific shape. These cutout shapes can then be used for a variety of projects, such as scrapbooking, t-shirts, homemade cards, quilts, or decorations for a party.

Generally, there are two types of die cutting machines – manual die cutting machines and digital die cutting machines.

Manual die cutting machines are die cutting machines that work like a cookie cutter. Cutting dies are purchased separately to be used in the machine, which cut the desired material. Cutting dies come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. There are a few companies that specialize in custom dies.

Digital die cutting machines are die cutting machines that are digital and cut materials in a way similar to how a printer prints. Designs can be sent to a digital die cutting machine in two ways, either from a cartridge, which is a device preloaded with designs that plugs into the machine, or from a computer, where designs can be made or downloaded using special software.

Some digital die cutting machines can draw, pierce, and emboss along with cut.

Die Cutting Machine Operations

Some die cutting machines can do more than just cut. Here are a few capabilities that die machines can do depending on the type of machine:

Cut Cutting is a standard feature on most machines. Some machines can cut shapes as small as a quarter of an inch.
Cut-by-color Some digital die cutting machines can trace colors and cut around them.
Draw On some digital die cutting machines, the blade can be replaced with a type of marker to draw instead of cut.
Pierce Piercing involves making holes in the material.
Engrave Engraving involves carving or cutting designs on a hard surface.
Emboss Embossing is a standard feature on manual die cutting machines. It involves creating raised designs on a surface, giving the design a “pop-out” effect.


Die Cutting Machine Applications

One can make a variety of items with a die cutting machine. Here are a few ideas:

  • Scrapbook designs
  • Stencils
  • Magnets
  • Stickers and decals
  • Homemade cards
  • Fabric cutouts
  • Fun foam designs

Choosing a Die Cutting Machine

There are several factors to consider when buying a die cutting machine:

  • Type of machine – Manual or Digital
  • Cost
  • Materials and Capabilities
  • Ease of use – Software and Support
  • Size and Portability

If you are interested in purchasing a die cutting machine, the Manual Die Cutting Machine Guide and Digital Die Cutting Machine Guide sites will help you compare the most popular models on the market.

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  1. Jackie Rosenfeld

    My friend in Israel wants a manual die cutting machine. What is available in her area without costing a lot in shipping costs?

  2. susan schlossberg

    I need to emboss fabric from lace to leathers into small 6-10″ flowers or shapes. Can you recommend the best embossing machine for my needs?

  3. Georgina

    I an looking for a machine that can cut my own designs in felt material. I was interested in the hand die cuts at it says its better for fabric and felt and I expect cheaper than digital, except you seem dependent on others designs is that right? I’m starting my own craft business using felt so I’m looking for something that can withstand a fair amount of use but I also dont have alot of spare cash.

    1. PPDMD

      I just bought a Cricut Explore Air 2. It can cut felt and fabric. The Cricut Explore Air is supposed to be the same machine, but just slower. It is a lot less expensive than the Air 2, if you don’t mind the extra cutting time.


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