Machining Custom Shapes From Flexible Materials: Exploring Kiss Cutting vs. Die Cutting

In the world of flexible material cutting, the choice between kiss cutting and die cutting can significantly impact the outcome of a project.

In the world of flexible material cutting, the choice between kiss cutting and die cutting can significantly impact the outcome of a project. Tolerance requirements, the efficiency of the method and material considerations all play a pivotal role in determining the most suitable method for machining custom parts from your chosen material.

In the following, we’ll outline the differences between kiss cutting and die cutting, along with some of the core factors that inform which machining method we choose for your part.

Kiss Cutting vs. Die Cutting: What’s the difference?

Die cutting is a term that’s often used to describe machining custom shapes from a material. The most common method uses a sharp steel die to cut shapes from the layers of foil, film, foam and adhesive. Kiss cutting is one of several die-cutting methods, and it’s often used to create a roll or sheet of peel-and-stick gaskets on a release liner.

Die Cutting

  • Die cutting is a term that’s sometimes used interchangeably with through-cuts, which is when the die punctures through all layers of material, and meets the metal anvil.
  • Flatbed die cutting is the most standard and oldest method for cutting identical shapes out of rolls and sheets of foam, tape and other flexible material.
  • Much like a cookie cutter, the sharp-edged die or a steel rule is pressed directly into the material using a hydraulic press until it meets the metal anvil on the other side.
  • After cutting, the part is completely separated from the remaining matrix, or waste material.

Kiss Cutting

  • The counterpart to through-cuts, as the die does not pass through all layers of materials.
  • The die is calibrated to end the cut at the very top layer of material that needs to remain uncut. For most kiss cuts, the uncut material would be the release liner. Once the cut is made, the matrix, or waste material, is cleared away, leaving the shapes on a liner.
  • The most common machine method for kiss cutting is a rotary die press. But kiss cuts can also be achieved with a software-guided laser cutter, where the beam cuts down into the specified depth of the material.

Other considerations when choosing between die cutting and kiss cutting

There’s no one cutting method that suits every job. That’s why we plan production around what achieves the highest quality at the best value to you. Here are just some of the top considerations that factor into the decision of which machining method is best to produce your part.

Tolerance Requirements and Material Considerations

For parts that require a tailor fit with little deviation, flatbed die cutting will achieve the most precise dimensions with sharper edges, as the cuts are performed straight into the material.

Rotary die cuts made with a cylindrical die are less suited for thicker foams and sponge materials, particularly for jobs with narrow tolerance requirements. In these instances, flatbed die cutting can provide an alternative that produces the results you’re looking for. However, for thinner materials, rotary die cutting and laser cutting can yield tight tolerances.

Which Method Is Most Efficient?

Rotary die cutting can produce a higher output in less time than flatbed diet cutting, whether used to make kiss cuts or through cuts. (Rotary die cutting is capable of achieving both.) As the cylindrical die rolls over the material, it’s constantly producing shapes, making it ideal for high-volume jobs.

When used for making kiss cuts, rotary die cutting is a method that also makes assembly more efficient. When the gaskets and other types of adhesive-backed parts are presented on a release liner — whether on a sheet or a roll — the parts are easy to remove, easier to handle and require no sorting.

Flatbed die cutting, on the other hand, is more ideal for through cuts and kiss cutting thicker materials. It offers a rapid changeover, but the machining is slower than the rotary method as the hydraulic press stamps out one shape at a time.

When done well, kiss cutting is highly efficient and keeps material waste to a minimum. However, kiss cutting requires highly skilled machinists and ongoing monitoring for quality control and to make sure the die is achieving those precise cuts. Otherwise, cuts that are too shallow can ruin the parts on the liner.

By understanding these differences and considering the specific needs of each job, it’s important to make informed decisions that lead to the best quality results. With the guidance of experienced converters like SRP, achieving precision and efficiency in shaping flexible materials becomes a reality. Contact us today to discuss your latest project!