What Is Die Cutting Machine? How to Use and Take Care It Properly?

Are you planning to go into art and craft?

Whether you’re looking to be a tailor, t-shirt designer or decorative paper maker, the die cutting machine is one of the tools that you will find most useful. With this machine, you’ll be able to make precise cuts on fabric, hardcover, paper, and other items of art.

In this article, we will look at how to use the machine correctly for splendid final results as well as guide you on how to maintain the machine and keep it working properly for as long as possible.

What Is a Die Cutting Machine?

A die cutting machine is a tool that is used to cut different materials, like paper and fabric into specific shapes. Normally, the cutouts are used for decorative purposes in projects like t-shirt design, quilts, scrapbooking, gift-card making, and so forth.

It is worth mentioning that there are two main types of die cutting machines – manual ones and digital ones.

Before we go into how to use the machine, we think it’d be good for you to know the difference between the two.

Manual Cutters

Manual Die Cutting Machine

These operate more like cookie cutters. You buy dies separately and load them on the machine. These dies can be of any size, shape, and design you desire and there are even companies that can make custom dies for you.

Digital Cutters

Digital Die Cutting Machine

These are electronic die cutters that operate like digital printers. There are two ways in which you can send designs to the machine. You can either preload a cartridge with the designs or send them from a computer, either by making them using the computer or downloading them from the internet.

Apart from cutting, there are digital die cutters that can pierce, emboss, and even draw. If you’re looking to go professional and offer a range of art and craft services, such digital cutters will be very helpful.

Steps for How to Cut with A Die Cutting Machine 

As we’ve discussed, there are several ways in which you can use the die cutting machine. If you’re just getting started, you don’t want to go straight into making designs; you want to do some practice first. Thus, get some scrap papers or fabrics and cut out designs till you’re confident enough to create professional designs.

If you’re looking to die-cut fabrics, there are 3 fundamental tools you need to get – a die cutter, a few cutting pads, and a specialty die.

The cutting pads are for protecting the cutting surface and the rollers, and they also give the fabric stability so that it doesn’t move when you’re doing the cutting.

Important note: the blade in the specialty die’s foam is quite sharp so try not to apply pressure to the die using your hands when you’re putting the fabrics in position.

Steps for cutting with the die cutting machine:

  • With the foam-side facing upward, put the fabric on the shape you want to cut. Feel free to use multiple fabric layers but be sure to follow the directions in the manual.
  • After that, position the layered die and fabric in between the 2 cutting pads.
  • Line up the cutting pads with the die and fabric securely against the machine’s roller.
  • Turn the machine’s handle till the die has passed through the rollers.
  • Take off the upper cutting pad and the excess fabric and set them aside. Now remove the shape you’ve just cut and observe it.

Die Cut Machine Maintaining Tips

Most machines have to be maintained properly to keep working as expected. Here are some of the most important maintenance tactics for your die cutting machine.


Your die cutting machine contains moving parts, and these need to be greased to avoid friction and the wearing that comes with it. What you need to do is get the best quality grease you can find and apply it through all the machine’s fittings.

Some of the areas to look out for include the motor and roller bearings because one of the leading causes of failure in these areas is inadequate greasing.


Oiling is necessary whether your die cutter is manual or digital. This important maintenance task not only helps bearing and other parts move smoothly but also protects them against rust. As with greasing, you need to use the best quality oil you can get.


By inspecting your tool on a regular basis, you’re able to detect problems before they arise and cause trouble. Some people dismantle the machine every few months to have a clear view of the internal parts while looking for issues like rusting.

If you’re not sure about dismantling yours, why not seek help from a professional?

Apart from opening up the machine, you can just check the joints and bolts perhaps once a week to make sure that they’re tight.

Another issue to check for is hydraulic leaks because when there are such leaks, the machine will not cut properly and again, these leaks might damage the items you’re cutting, for instance, paper and fabric. We strongly recommend doing hydraulic leak checks at least twice a week.

Refilling the Air System Lubricators 

We take it you want to be able to use the machine for years on end. You know what will help you accomplish that? Keeping the air system lubricators refilled, as they play a vital part in the machine’s smooth functioning.

Those are the essential ways of keeping your die cutter working properly for a long time. Remember, if the machine develops a problem that you don’t understand, the best way to deal with it is to call in a professional.

Uses of This Machine

There are a few ways in which you can use the die cutting machine, including the following:

  •  Cutting – this is the basic purpose of the die cutting machine. Some machines are so precise that they can cut as little as a quarter of an inch.
  • Cutting by color – this can only be accomplished with a digital die cutter. The machine will normally trace the colors and cut around them or as needed.
  • Drawing – this is yet another function that’s only accomplished with a digital die cutting machine. The blade is normally replaced with a marker so that the machine draws instead of cutting.
  • Piercing – the machine makes holes on the item.
  • Engraving – this is about cutting or carving designs on hard surfaces.
  • Embossing – this is where a die cutter is used to bring out a “pop out” effect by creating raised designs on surfaces.

There are several ways in which you can use the die cutting machine. Here are a few applications of this die cutting machine to give you ideas:

  • Scrapbooking
  • Making stencils
  • Stickers and decals making
  • Crafting homemade cards
  • Fashioning fabric cutouts
  • Creating fun foam designs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are die cutting machines versatile?

Yes, they most certainly are versatile. In light of that, die cutters can cut through paper, foam, thin plastics, different fabrics, cards, and more. 

2. What is a die?

A die refers to the template design that you use to cut your patterns out of different materials.

3. What does the term “die-cut” mean?

First, the term denotes a die cutting machine was used to cut out the label or tag. Again, it shows that the label likely has rounded rather than square corners (these are normally called ‘kiss’ or ‘butt’ cut)

Final Verdict

As you have seen, the die cutting machine has a range of applications. You can use it to cut, draw, emboss, or even create holes in various materials including paper, card, and fabric. But remember, to be able to enjoy all the functions of the die cutter, it’s best that you use a digital machine rather than a manual one.


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