Steel rule dies are still used for cutting many thin sheet materials in production. Products such as membrane switches, machine control panels and many printed products require cutting and trimming of complex shapes, aligned with the printed artwork.
THE Laser-Cuts DIFFERENCE
Steel rule dies are difficult to design, slow and expensive to make and greatly limit the geometry you can cut. They are also large and expensive to store. They are efficient for cutting very large quantities of simple shapes, but are impractical for prototypes, small part quantities or fast turn-around.
Due to the large mechanical forces involved, steel rule dies have severely limited lifetimes and must be replaced frequently. Furthermore, design changes cannot be easily handled using dies because a brand new die must be made and purchased each time a design change occurs. This can be especially problematic and expensive while manufacturing prototypes and short production runs.
Another drawback of mechanical dies is that intricate designs, sharp corners and closely spaced details cannot be easily created using mechanical dies, spacing can be as close as .1 inch.
All these problems are eliminated when using software controlled laser machining because a laser is a non-contact tool and design changes can be made "on the fly" through software control. Paper products can easily be cut with a laser. The lack of thickness; coupled with their high combustion ability minimizes the power output requirements of a laser to no more than a few hundred watts. The resultant edges are clean, precise, and free from burning.
As with a die, paper and cardboard can be stacked while using a laser machine for cutting that's even more efficient. Adhesive backed materials can be also stacked and effectively cut with a laser without gumming up the machine.
Kiss-cuts of any material are also easy to do, and can be done simultaneously with through-cuts, making Beam Dynamics machines ideal for overlays and labels. Labels can be made to include an additional tab to make the label easier and faster to apply, significantly decreasing application time and increasing value to your customer.
Unlike die cutting, there is no setup, so it's faster for the operator and more cost-efficient for you. Our machines generate a cutting path based on the original computer-generated artwork, using the same registration marks used in the printing process. The completely digital process means higher quality, more flexibility, and greater precision, all at dramatically lower costs.