How are die cut stickers made?

Have you ever wondered how a die cut sticker is manufactured? Or what happens between approving your design proof and receiving your stickers?

Let's peek behind the scenes and learn how custom die cut stickers are made.

Definition: What exactly is a die-cut sticker

When a sticker is die-cut, it's cut to the shape of your sticker design - usually a custom shape.

So die-cutting refers to the shape/cut of your sticker. Not the material, how it's printed, or anything else! 

A die cut sticker looks like this:

Eco-white die cut sticker with a cat design

What are die cut stickers made of?

The short answer is anything! Die cut stickers can be made from any material because the term 'die-cut' refers to how a sticker gets cut rather than the material it's made of.

You can choose your ideal material by browsing our materials page (see the link in the menu above). The most common options are either paper-based or plastic-based materials. Let's have a look at those.

Plastic die-cut stickers

Plastic die cut stickers are our most popular option. They are also often referred to as die cut vinyl stickers. They come in various colors: white, clear, holographic, glitter, silver, and gold.

All of these plastic materials share very similar properties: they are waterproof, will withstand going in the dishwasher, won’t fade in sunlight, and are generally very durable.

They also have a medium-strength adhesive, so will stick to almost any surface, making these plastic die-cut stickers perfect for general-purpose stickers and labels.

As you may be aware, various types of plastic are used to make stickers or labels.

Polypropylene is very popular as it's durable and easy to recycle. PVC (or vinyl stickers) are harder to recycle; however, are slightly more flexible and arguably offer more durability.

Both materials create excellent stickers & labels that will avoid fading when outside, won't tear easily, are suitable for many uses, and can be bought as glossy or matte stickers.

If you are looking for die cut stickers for your car, vinyl-based stickers are what you need.

Paper die-cut stickers

With our biodegradable paper stickers, we want to give you a plastic alternative and a high-quality sustainable option. 

Our paper stickers are made from sugarcane fiber, linen, and hemp and do not contain any wood. This not only makes them sustainable but compostable as well. A great choice for eco-conscious brands. Paper stickers are perfect for short-term or indoor use. They are low-cost and easy to recycle.

Here is an example:

Die cut biodegradable paper sticker with protect our oceans design applied to a silver laptop

Eco-friendly die-cut sticker options

Look at our eco-friendly stickers if you are after a more resistant, sustainable sticker.

Environmentally friendly die cut stickers are much less common in the market. We use advanced materials made from wood pulp from sustainable sources that look and feel like a plastic material but are actually completely compostable.

These eco-friendly stickers have a gloss finish and can be cut to any shape, so make perfect die cut stickers. We offer them in all the same colors as our plastic die-cut stickers. They're perfect for labeling your products.

Adding the perfect finish

Once your custom cut stickers are printed, we add a protective laminate.

This is an optional step for some suppliers, but we always laminate plastic & compostable stickers & labels.

We highly recommend laminating stickers that are used outdoors or exposed to water. The clear laminate protects your design from scratches and keeps it looking fresh.

Matte stickers will generally have a frosted effect, whereas gloss stickers tend to have slightly more vibrant colors.

Our standard procedure includes a gloss finish. That is because a gloss finish emphasizes the vibrancy and quality of your design and gives especially clear stickers maximum transparency. Check out our product images to see for yourself!

Clear eco friendly stickers applied to glass containers with brown sugar and oats

How can I get matte die cut stickers?

There are several ways you can get custom matte stickers.

  • For orders exceeding $250, you can add this request as you place your order. This threshold is in place to set up the matte lamination per order.
  • Choose a custom sticker option with a natural matte finish, like our biodegradable paper stickers.
  • If you have a unique project and are interested in matte stickers, contact our great customer service team.

What is digital die cutting?

Traditionally, the die cutting process uses a sharp metal blade to punch the shape of your stickers. Think of these dies like large cookie cutters that get custom-made for every order.

The die is made to fit the desired shape of your sticker. Once it has been formed, large quantities of material can be cut quickly, and the die can be used for future print runs.

This makes die cutting particularly cost-efficient for large orders or various materials that need to be cut in a similar shape.

However, since each die has to be custom-made, this type of cutting can become expensive if you are looking for a smaller amount of custom stickers.

Now, many industries moved from manual machines to digitally operated cutters. Digital cutters no longer need metal or steel dies made from scratch. Instead, they operate with a digitally controlled blade or laser.

A camera locates the registration marks on your print and ensures the cutting blade or laser cuts exactly where it's meant to. In our design proofs, the cutline is shown as the pink line (for thru-cuts) or green line (for kiss-cuts).

This allows us to create intricate shapes quickly without creating custom dies.

Who invented die cutting?

Die-cutting developed as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Manufacturers needed to produce standardised parts of their products economically.

In the early to mid-1800s, artisans started to cut out parts using a pattern with a hand-held knife. The next evolution was to create cutting dies to cut out the different pieces of a product.

By the late 1800s, parts were cut using die-cutting presses, mainly in shoe manufacturing for cutting leather.

Other industries adopted the process of die-cutting, including the sticker & label industry, and it's still widely used today (Source)

Can you make die cuts without a machine?

You do not need a die-cutting machine to create die cut stickers. Especially if you require basic shapes, in this case, you can find pre-cut sticker sheets you can print onto.

However, if you want a perfectly cut shape or want to make die cut stickers for larger projects, you might find cutting your stickers manually very time-consuming.

You can invest in your own digital die-cutting machine. The most common digital die cutters are the Silhouettes and ProvoCrafts Cricut models.

Ready to get your own die-cut stickers?

If you are still unsure, try ordering a custom sample pack. The perfect low-risk way to test our materials!

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