How to supply a Die Cut file

Tom Williams
by Tom Williams 2 months ago
 

Certain products have an option to add a die cutting guide to achieve a cut shape, perforation, score/crease or punched hole. This guide is supplied to us using a special spot colour swatch. This swatch is available in our templates, please ask for a copy before starting your design.

How to supply your cutter guide

Download the appropriate InDesign Die-Cut Template to start your design from.

All of our InDesign templates include specific colour swatches for all finishing options or you use the instructions below to set up the 'DIE-CUT FORME' spot colour yourself:

  1. Create a New Colour Swatch in Adobe InDesign/Illustrator.
  2. Name the swatch 'DIE-CUT FORME'
  3. Set Colour Type to Spot
  4. Set Colour Mode to CMYK
  5. Colour Make-up is 37% Cyan and 83% Yellow
  6. Set stroke to Overprint (Window > Output > Attributes)

Alternatively, supply your cutter guide on page 3 of your PDF and we will adjust the file for you.

How to add a die cutting guide to your artwork

  1. Place your Die Cut lines above your artwork using the special DIE-CUT FORME spot colour swatch. This swatch must remain as a spot colour and must not be adjusted in any way. The lines must be a 2pt stroke width.

  2. Set the DIE-CUT FORME elements to Overprint from within your design application.

  3. Die cutting is suitable for simple shapes only.

  4. Only place Die Cut lines on the front page of your artwork.

You can specify a cut shape, perforation, score/crease or punched hole. You indicate these using different stroke/line types. The different cut/perforation types are denoted by line style:

Feature name Finished appearance Graphic file specification
Cut
Continuous cut

Solid line
Perforation 3/3
3 pt gap, 3 pt cut, …

12pt dash, 2pt gap,
2pt dash, 2pt gap, …
Perforation 2/10


2 pt gap, 10 pt cut, …


2pt dash, 2pt gap,
2pt dash, 6pt gap, …

Perforation 2/35


2 pt gap, 35 pt cut, …


12pt dash, 4pt gap,
2pt dash, 4pt gap,
2pt dash, 4pt gap, …
Perforation 2/70


2 pt gap, 70 pt cut, …


4pt dash, 4pt gap, …

Crease
Continuous crease

2pt dash, 2pt gap, ...
Punched hole Available as: 2½ mm, and 3 mm – 10 mm in increments of 1 mm. Fill Colour: DIE-CUT FORME, overprinted.
Diameter: 2½ mm – 10 mm.

Perforation 3/3 is the strongest perforation recommended for Tear-off panels.

Perforation 2/70 is the weakest perforation recommended for Push-Out Shapes on Laminated 400gsm products.

See Die-cut: Artwork elements for Creases, Cuts & Perforations before selecting a Perforation style.

Setting your die-cut line styles

A Die-Cut Crease line style created in InDesign using a 2pt dash and a 2pt gap alongside Stroke Weight and Colour Swatch settings.

Limitations: Getting the most from Die Cut products

Die-cut Suitability for Perforations

To ensure the perforation you require is suitable for the product chosen please review our Die-cut: Artwork elements for Creases, Cuts & Perforations.

Forme complexity limits

If your job is going to be die-cut, then it is acceptable to use any combination of cuts, perforations, creases and punched holes, providing that the total number of anchor points does not exceed the maximum allowed, dependant on the flat size of the product. Please review our Forme complexity limits Guide.

Flat size Anchor point limit
Simple Complex
Smaller than A4 15 23*
A4 or larger 20 28*


One straight side ('Push-out' options)

As standard, your job will be supplied with the cut-out shape held within the card skeleton.

If you wish us to remove the waste from the edge of a shape, then please contact us to add a "push-out" option to the job specification.

Where possible, ensure that the shape includes at least one flat side, along the usual page edge. This will allow us to guillotine the flat edge to extract the final shape, and use fewer nicks around the edge of the cut-out, thus improving the final appearance of the product.

No straight edges ('Push-out' options)

Please contact us if your shape doesn't have any straight (guillotined) edges so that we can understand what you're trying to achieve. It is more difficult to push out this type of shape, so if you require your print to this will add a small cost to your job.

Example: Die-cut Circle with No Straight Edges. This job would require 'pushing out' as the Guillotine cuts do not assist in releasing the shape from it's skeleton.

 

Example: Die-cut Rounded corners with No Straight Edges. This job would require 'pushing out' as the Guillotine cuts do not assist in releasing the shape from it's skeleton.

Please choose a Round Corner Business Card if you require this shape.

Nicks to hold your cut-outs

To prevent a cut out shape from ‘falling out’ of the sheet, we will place small nicks in the cut lines. These nicks are made with a grinding wheel.

The more straight edges that we can cut at the guillotine later, the fewer nicks required to hold the product in the sheet.

Left: Two straight edges = no nicks; Right: One straight edge = many nicks.

We will always use the minimum number of nicks required to keep the required shape intact until it is packed. If you wish the push out shape to remain intact during use, you should select one of the perforating options instead of a cut.

Minimum corner radius

The minimum corner radius on a die cut is 3mm.

Acute Die Cut Shape and Angles

If you are designing a die-cut product that requires an acute angle, you must be aware that there is a minimum angle radius where the two lines meet into a point of 5 degrees.

Vectors only for Die Cut lines

Die Cut elements must be supplied in vector format.

Smallest size

You need to be able to place either one 45mm diameter circle, or two
non-overlapping 30mm diameter circles within your shape.

Cracking

When paper is folded, its interlinking fibres are compressed on one side and stretched on the other. If the outer fibres lose their hold on each other, we see this as 'cracking': an opening out of the paper on the outside. This will be more visually apparent where the design includes a dark colour across the crease. If dark colours are required please upgrade to a Laminated Product which will help to reduce the appearance of cracking.

Proximity of die-cut lines

  • Unless it is vital to your design, make sure that die-cut lines do not encroach within 3 mm of the edge of the page. It could impact on the finishing of your order if lines are placed within 3mm of the page edge.
  • Lines that end at the trim edge of the product must bleed to the edge of the artwork.
  • Creases should have a minimum spacing of 6 mm.
  • Keep creases and cuts at least 2 mm away from SPOT-UV elements to avoid cracking of the Spot UV.

Samples

We have produced some printed samples that demonstrate how to use Die Cuts, ask us for your free copies.

How to supply a Die Cut file

Die-cut: Guidance for Suitability Die-cut: Guidance for Suitability

Die-cut: Forme complexity limits Die-cut: Forme complexity limits

Die-cut: Shape examples Die-cut: Shape examples

How to supply a Die Cut file

Certain products have an option to add a die cutting guide to achieve a cut shape, perforation, score/crease or punched hole. This guide is supplied to us using a special spot colour swatch. This swatch is available in our templates, please ask for a copy before starting your design.

How to supply your cutter guide

Download the appropriate InDesign Die-Cut Template to start your design from.

All of our InDesign templates include specific colour swatches for all finishing options or you use the instructions below to set up the 'DIE-CUT FORME' spot colour yourself:

  1. Create a New Colour Swatch in Adobe InDesign/Illustrator.
  2. Name the swatch 'DIE-CUT FORME'
  3. Set Colour Type to Spot
  4. Set Colour Mode to CMYK
  5. Colour Make-up is 37% Cyan and 83% Yellow
  6. Set stroke to Overprint (Window > Output > Attributes)

Alternatively, supply your cutter guide on page 3 of your PDF and we will adjust the file for you.

How to add a die cutting guide to your artwork

  1. Place your Die Cut lines above your artwork using the special DIE-CUT FORME spot colour swatch. This swatch must remain as a spot colour and must not be adjusted in any way. The lines must be a 2pt stroke width.

  2. Set the DIE-CUT FORME elements to Overprint from within your design application.

  3. Die cutting is suitable for simple shapes only.

  4. Only place Die Cut lines on the front page of your artwork.

You can specify a cut shape, perforation, score/crease or punched hole. You indicate these using different stroke/line types. The different cut/perforation types are denoted by line style:

Feature name Finished appearance Graphic file specification
Cut
Continuous cut

Solid line
Perforation 3/3
3 pt gap, 3 pt cut, …

12pt dash, 2pt gap,
2pt dash, 2pt gap, …
Perforation 2/10


2 pt gap, 10 pt cut, …


2pt dash, 2pt gap,
2pt dash, 6pt gap, …

Perforation 2/35


2 pt gap, 35 pt cut, …


12pt dash, 4pt gap,
2pt dash, 4pt gap,
2pt dash, 4pt gap, …
Perforation 2/70


2 pt gap, 70 pt cut, …


4pt dash, 4pt gap, …

Crease
Continuous crease

2pt dash, 2pt gap, ...
Punched hole Available as: 2½ mm, and 3 mm – 10 mm in increments of 1 mm. Fill Colour: DIE-CUT FORME, overprinted.
Diameter: 2½ mm – 10 mm.

Perforation 3/3 is the strongest perforation recommended for Tear-off panels.

Perforation 2/70 is the weakest perforation recommended for Push-Out Shapes on Laminated 400gsm products.

See Die-cut: Artwork elements for Creases, Cuts & Perforations before selecting a Perforation style.

Setting your die-cut line styles

A Die-Cut Crease line style created in InDesign using a 2pt dash and a 2pt gap alongside Stroke Weight and Colour Swatch settings.

Limitations: Getting the most from Die Cut products

Die-cut Suitability for Perforations

To ensure the perforation you require is suitable for the product chosen please review our Die-cut: Artwork elements for Creases, Cuts & Perforations.

Forme complexity limits

If your job is going to be die-cut, then it is acceptable to use any combination of cuts, perforations, creases and punched holes, providing that the total number of anchor points does not exceed the maximum allowed, dependant on the flat size of the product. Please review our Forme complexity limits Guide.

Flat size Anchor point limit
Simple Complex
Smaller than A4 15 23*
A4 or larger 20 28*


One straight side ('Push-out' options)

As standard, your job will be supplied with the cut-out shape held within the card skeleton.

If you wish us to remove the waste from the edge of a shape, then please contact us to add a "push-out" option to the job specification.

Where possible, ensure that the shape includes at least one flat side, along the usual page edge. This will allow us to guillotine the flat edge to extract the final shape, and use fewer nicks around the edge of the cut-out, thus improving the final appearance of the product.

No straight edges ('Push-out' options)

Please contact us if your shape doesn't have any straight (guillotined) edges so that we can understand what you're trying to achieve. It is more difficult to push out this type of shape, so if you require your print to this will add a small cost to your job.

Example: Die-cut Circle with No Straight Edges. This job would require 'pushing out' as the Guillotine cuts do not assist in releasing the shape from it's skeleton.

 

Example: Die-cut Rounded corners with No Straight Edges. This job would require 'pushing out' as the Guillotine cuts do not assist in releasing the shape from it's skeleton.

Please choose a Round Corner Business Card if you require this shape.

Nicks to hold your cut-outs

To prevent a cut out shape from ‘falling out’ of the sheet, we will place small nicks in the cut lines. These nicks are made with a grinding wheel.

The more straight edges that we can cut at the guillotine later, the fewer nicks required to hold the product in the sheet.

Left: Two straight edges = no nicks; Right: One straight edge = many nicks.

We will always use the minimum number of nicks required to keep the required shape intact until it is packed. If you wish the push out shape to remain intact during use, you should select one of the perforating options instead of a cut.

Minimum corner radius

The minimum corner radius on a die cut is 3mm.

Acute Die Cut Shape and Angles

If you are designing a die-cut product that requires an acute angle, you must be aware that there is a minimum angle radius where the two lines meet into a point of 5 degrees.

Vectors only for Die Cut lines

Die Cut elements must be supplied in vector format.

Smallest size

You need to be able to place either one 45mm diameter circle, or two
non-overlapping 30mm diameter circles within your shape.

Cracking

When paper is folded, its interlinking fibres are compressed on one side and stretched on the other. If the outer fibres lose their hold on each other, we see this as 'cracking': an opening out of the paper on the outside. This will be more visually apparent where the design includes a dark colour across the crease. If dark colours are required please upgrade to a Laminated Product which will help to reduce the appearance of cracking.

Proximity of die-cut lines

  • Unless it is vital to your design, make sure that die-cut lines do not encroach within 3 mm of the edge of the page. It could impact on the finishing of your order if lines are placed within 3mm of the page edge.
  • Lines that end at the trim edge of the product must bleed to the edge of the artwork.
  • Creases should have a minimum spacing of 6 mm.
  • Keep creases and cuts at least 2 mm away from SPOT-UV elements to avoid cracking of the Spot UV.

Samples

We have produced some printed samples that demonstrate how to use Die Cuts, ask us for your free copies.

Die-cut: Guidance for Suitability

Cut/Perforation Types

The different Cut and Perforation types are denoted by line stroke style (Graphic file specification).

The Finished appearance is how they appear on Paper.

Feature name Finished appearance Graphic file specification
Cut
Continuous cut

Solid line
Perforation 3/3
3 pt gap, 3 pt cut, …

12pt dash, 2pt gap,
2pt dash, 2pt gap, …
Perforation 2/10


2 pt gap, 10 pt cut, …


2pt dash, 2pt gap,
2pt dash, 6pt gap, …

Perforation 2/35


2 pt gap, 35 pt cut, …


12pt dash, 4pt gap,
2pt dash, 4pt gap,
2pt dash, 4pt gap, …
Perforation 2/70


2 pt gap, 70 pt cut, …


4pt dash, 4pt gap, …

Crease
Continuous crease

2pt dash, 2pt gap, ...
Punched hole Available as:  3 mm – 10 mm in increments of 1 mm. Fill Colour: DIE-CUT FORME, overprinted.
Diameter: 3 mm – 10 mm.

Setting your die-cut line styles

A Die-Cut Crease line style created in InDesign using a 2pt dash and a 2pt gap alongside Stroke Weight and Colour Swatch settings.

Cuts

Cuts are often used for Business Cards with an added shape or to create shaped flyer products.

Cuts can be used as either straight lines or shaped lines wherever you want to cut the finished product.

Production will assume that you want any cut-out shape to ‘fall out’ (without pushing) and will apply the minimum number of nicks required to allow them to manufacture and pack the product.

If you wish us to remove the waste from the edge of a shape, then specify the appropriate "push-out" Finishing option on the Job Summary. See Die-cut: Push-out and Waste for more information.

Business Cards and Flyers with Rounded Corners

If your Business Card or Flyer (A5 and below) requires all 4 corners to be rounded, then there is no need to order a Die Cut product. Instead order the normal product and specify a Finishing Note. The Finishing Note is:

• RO4CO Round off 4 corners

This Finishing Note adds an extra step into production, where the corners are rounded with a 6mm radius before packing. This step avoids the 'nicks' that have to be added when using a die cut to create the rounded corners. You can continue to order using a die cut product, but the new Finishing Note gives a superior end product.

Perforations

Are used for Tear-off panels, Push-out shapes and Pop-outs. There are some combinations you should avoid, and tricks for getting good results in some cases. Check out our Making it work article.

Perforation 3/3

This is the strongest perforation available.

Recommended for

  • Tear-off panels on all stocks.
    Relatively robust when flat and will fold once before tearing.

  • Mailing.
    Robust characteristic when flat ensures the perforation will post well

Not recommended for

  • Push-Out Shapes.
    The perforations are too strong and numerous for pushing-out without damaging the host

Perforation 2/10

This is a strong mid-range perforation.

Recommended for

  • Push-Out Shapes on stocks lighter than 400gsm.
    Will accept a reasonable amount of handling and shapes can be removed with minimal impact on the host.

Not recommended for

  • Push-Out Shapes on 400gsm stocks.
    The perforations are too strong and numerous for pushing-out without damaging the host.

  • Tear-Off Panels on any stock.
    The perforation is weaker than the 3/3 and will break off easily.

Perforation 2/35

This is the weaker mid-range perforation available.

Recommended for

  • Pop-outs and Push-Out Shapes on non-laminated 330gsm SmoothWove and 400gsm Silk products.
    Will accept a reasonable amount of handling and shapes can be removed with minimal impact on the host

Not recommended for

  • Push-Out Shapes on stocks lighter than 330gsm.
    The 2/10 perforation is better for thinner stocks.

  • Tear-Off Panels on any stock.
    The perforation is weaker than the 3/3 and will break off easily

Perforation 2/70

This is the weakest perforation available.

Recommended for

  • Push-Out Shapes on laminated 400gsm products.
    It puts a 0.7mm nick every 25mm or so, and the shape can be removed very easily with minimal impact to the host.

Not recommended for

  • Tear-Off Panels on any Stock.
    The perforation is weak and will separate with minimum force, even when flat.

Crease

A crease is used to prevent the fibres of the paper from cracking when folding. It also aids forming a neat fold in thicker materials. It will not automatically fold in exactly the right place. The more care you take with folding, the better the result you will obtain.

Punched Hole

Punched holes are available with diameter 2½ mm, and in increments of 1 mm, from 3 mm up to 10 mm.

Punched holes remain attached to the item

Although the holes are fully punched through, they remain attached to the item, and will require pushing out by the customer or end user.

If you require a fully drilled hole (4 mm, 5 mm, ... 10 mm), specify drilling instead.

Specifying drilling will add a day to the turnaround of your product. We recommend using punches wherever possible.

Complexity

Each punched hole contributes '2' to the complexity total, so take care not to exceed the complexity score allowed for the product. See Forme complexity for more.

 

Die-cut: Forme complexity limits

If your job is going to be die-cut, and the product allows custom formes, then it is acceptable to use any combination of cuts, perforations, creases and punched holes, providing that the total number of 'anchor points' does not exceed the maximum allowed, dependant on the flat size of the product.

Flat size Anchor point limit
Simple Complex
Smaller than A4 15 23
A4 or larger 20 28

The complex option is available for most die-cut products and carries and additional charge.

Definition of 'anchor points' qualifying for limits

Count the 'anchor points' (including endpoints), but not the manipulation handles. Each punched hole counts as 2 anchor points.

Simple shape with 13 Anchor Points:

Simple shape with 12 Anchor Points:

 

Die-cut: Shape examples

If your job is going to be die-cut, and the product allows custom formes, then it is acceptable to use any combination of cuts, perforations, creases and punched holes, providing that the total number of anchor points does not exceed the maximum allowed, dependant on the flat size of the product.

Flat size Anchor point limit
Simple Complex
Smaller than A4 15 23*
A4 or larger 20 28*

*The complex option is available for products that allow the CF finishing option.

Here are some examples of cut out shapes, along with the number of anchor points used to create the shape:

Perforated plus punched holes

13 anchor points for perforated shape plus 2 anchor points for each punched hole.

Shaped edge

8 anchor points for the shaped edge.

Cut out shape

15 anchor points for the shaped edge.

Cut out shape

12 anchor points for the shaped edge.

 
 

Jump to contents page of

File Supply Guide - How to supply your own artwork