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How are die cut stickers made?

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

Let's take a peek behind the scenes and learn all about 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.

A die cut sticker looks like this:

Eco-white die cut sticker with a cat design
Two stacks of eco-friendly die cut stickers with different spaceman designs on a black table top
White vinyl die cut sticker with hamster design applied to a cardboard food box
Die cut eco-friendly silver sticker with ziggy stardust cat design
Die cut glitter sticker applied to rose scented perfume bottle

Read all about die cut stickers, and where the term originated in our blog, What is a die-cut sticker?

What are die cut stickers made of?

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

You can choose your ideal material by browsing our options on our materials page. 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 a die cut vinyl stickers. They come in various colors including; 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, there are various types of plastic that 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 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.

Paper die-cut stickers

With our biodegradable paper stickers, we want to give you not only a plastic alternative but a high-quality sustainable option. 

Our paper stickers are made from sugarcane fibre, 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. For low-cost and easy to recycle.

Here are a few examples.

Die cut biodegradable paper sticker with protect our oceans design applied to a silver laptop
Die cut biodegradable paper stickers applied to a cardboard box filled with lavender soap
Biodegradable paper sticker with with spring valley design applied to a clear candle jar by the bogel company

Eco-friendly die-cut sticker options

If you are after a more resistant sustainable sticker, have a look at our eco-friendly stickers.

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.

Take a look for yourself:

Die cut eco friendly sticker with a teddy storm trooper design applied to a silver laptop
Eco friendly stickers applied to glass gin bottle next to a tilted glass filled with a cocktail
Die cut eco friendly sticker applied to brown paper coffee cup
Clear eco friendly labels applied to three different honey jars
Eco-friendly die cut stickers with cat art design applied to a silver laptop

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 white or with a transparent background, perfect for labelling hundreds of products.

If you want to see more, check out our list of the coolest die cut stickers.

Adding the perfect finish

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

This is an optional step. 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. Learn more about what laminating is here.

Matte stickers will generally have a frosted effect, whereas gloss stickers have 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!

Die cut mirror silver sticker with fox logo design applied to a silver laptop
Stack of eco-friendly holographic die cut stickers with pug life design
White vinyl die cut sheet labels with cute animals some peeled and applied to a pink note book
Clear die cut adventure logo applied to a silver laptop
Die cut white vinyl sticker with corgi design applied to an iPhone on a table
Die cut white vinyl sticker white TGIP design applied to a cardboard food box

How can I get matte die cut stickers?

There are several ways you can get custom matte stickers.

  • For orders exceeding £250, you can simply add this request as you place your order. We have this threshold in place as we have to set up the matte lamination per order.

  • Choose a custom sticker option that has a natural matte finish, like our biodegradable paper stickers.

  • If you have a unique project and are interested in matte stickers, get in contact with 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 are custom-made for every order.

The die is simply 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 a variety of 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.

A laser locates the registration dots on your stickers and directs the cutting blade across the magenta cut line indicated on your design proof.

This allows us to create intricate shapes quickly without having to create 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 are after basic shapes, you can find pre-cut sticker sheets you can simply 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. Learn more about this in our blog "How to make your own die cut stickers".

FAQs about die cut stickers

Since die cut stickers are so highly customisable, it can be quite difficult to answer all questions in a single article. So let's troubleshoot some of the questions we are often asked.

Are die cut stickers waterproof?

If a sticker is die-cut, it doesn't mean it's waterproof. Die-cutting refers to how a sticker is cut, not the material.

Plastic-based materials tend to be waterproof, whereas paper stickers are not. Our waterproof sticker range includes all vinyl stickers, ranging from our most popular white vinyl option to our premium vinyl materials with effects.

This is an essential aspect to get right as the durability of your material determines how you can use your die cut stickers. You can learn more about which stickers and labels are waterproof here.

Are die cut stickers reusable?

No, we do not recommend reusing our die cut stickers. As you remove them from the surface you originally stuck them to, the adhesive becomes less sticky.

This means that we cannot guarantee that your custom stickers will perform similarly well when reapplied.

Once you peel them from the paper backing, your custom cut stickers should be applied immediately to avoid contamination of the adhesive.

Every dirt or dust particle caught under the adhesive film can interfere with the adhesion of your stickers and creates unnecessary air bubbles.

How thick are die cut stickers?

When it comes to stickers, we associate thickness with quality. The thicker the stickers, the more premium they feel - and the easier they are to peel.

Since die cuts can be printed on a whole host of materials, the thickness of your custom stickers ranges from around 245 microns to 280 microns. That is about 0.245 to 0.28 mm.

Die cut sticker printing uses microns and GSM (grams per square metre) as units, simply because stickers are comparatively small.

If you are looking for more details on your options, check out the datasheets attached to each of them on our materials page.

How much do die cut stickers cost?

The price of die cut stickers changes depending on the material, the size and the quantity you choose.

Since we offer custom stickers that are manufactured to fit your needs, we do not have a set pricing list. Instead, we work with a live pricing calculator on every product page.

You can enter your custom size, material, and desired quantity, and it will automatically generate your price - bulk discounts included. The great thing about that is that you can play around with the quantities and sizes until you are 100% happy with the price.

Let's look at an example.

What is the cost of 250 die cut stickers at 3x3"?

250 die cut stickers at 3x3" printed on our bestselling white vinyl material cost $153 (or 60ct each). The custom shape will not increase the cost of your stickers.

Our pricing calculator will give you an overview of the pricing breakdown at different sticker quantities. It also gives you the option to enter a custom quantity at the bottom, so you can create an instant custom quote.

Screenshot of the die cut stickers pricing calculator to show how much 250 die cut stickers cost

Ready to get your own die-cut stickers?

If you need any help, please ask our experts here or take our quiz to find your perfect sticker material. You can also order a custom sample pack right here.