The beauty of rotary die cutting equipment is the versatility that the replaceable dies can bring to the manufacturing process. The cutting machine itself can be engineered for long life, while tooling up to produce a new finished product is as simple as replacing the dies. In the past, factories would be set up to produce a single consumer good or industrial item, and when the item became obsolete, the factory suffered the same obsolescence. That’s never the case with today’s rotary die cutting equipment. A new factory floor for producing an entirely new product requires little more than a fresh set of dies.
Crush Cutting Dies Are Gaining in Popularity
Of course all rotary die cutting equipment isn’t the same. There are many approaches to making slicing cuts as well as scoring, perforations, and embossing. Crush cutting is growing in popularity for many applications in the high-speed fabrication industry. The technology for the rotary die cutting equipment needed to perform crush cutting operations isn’t really new, but advancements in the materials and methods used to make the dies has come a long way in the last couple of decades. The strengths of crush cutting machines are especially evident in very high volume production runs because of the durability of the equipment, and the repeatability of the patterns over millions of impressions.
Die cutting equipment and design expertise from companies such as BarilCorp can integrate crush cutting dies into any factory setup. Crush cutting requires exacting setup of the mating surfaces, but once they’re in place, the machines are only limited by the ability to supply it with feedstock. There is no loss of sharpness of the impressions or cuts due to the speed of the throughput.
Super-Fast Feed Rates at Nominal Pressures
For the most part, the material that’s fed through a crush cutting machine doesn’t matter. As long as the dies are durable enough to shear the material without deflecting, and the rotary die cutting equipment itself is powerful enough to feed the material through the dies, the material will be cut properly. With other die setups, you can end up with embossed impressions instead of clean cuts if the material is too hard. The only way an operator can improve the cut is by increasing the pressure on the dies, which leads to a much greater rate of wear, and can even lead to crushing of the die surfaces if the material is too hard, or it contains too many layers. Crush cutting avoids many of these problems.
Crush cutting requires close tolerances during setup. The machine must be set to make its punctures and cuts precisely, but once it’s in alignment, it can be run as fast as the machine can go without any loss of accuracy or crispness of the cut or score lines.
Layered Feedstock Is Handled Easily
Rotary die cutting equipment is perfect for handling continuous sheets of materials. Machines that can handle layered webs of material are preferred to those that require separate runs for each piece in the sandwich of layers. Separate die cutting followed by assembly is tedious and labor intensive work, and misalignments are common. If one machine can puncture the entire stack of layered materials in one pass with no loss of accuracy, large cost savings can be realized.
When a single cutter cuts all layers simultaneously, the quality of the edge is kept very high. Most materials cut best when some form of backing supports them, so each layer in a multi-layer web will support the one directly above it. When edge integrity is paramount, the perfect shearing cuts made by crush cutting are superior to edges that require precise pressure. Crush cutting relies on alignment, not pressure, to make sure the cut is made all the way through. That’s why increasing the speed of the material through the machine doesn’t degrade the quality of the cut.
Very Hard Metals With Excellent Sharpening Properties
Crush cutting dies have many other benefits. Metallurgy is constantly improving, so the cutting surfaces can be made from the strongest possible steel while still allowing regular re-sharpening. In years past, factories had to choose between metals soft enough to be sharpened to a fine edge and metals hard enough to last a long time under the pressure and friction present in a die cutting press run. Today’s metals allow easy sharpening with high strength. Although the dies can be re-sharpened, they last longer than dies from years past that were designed as super-strong but disposable.
Because of the needs of factories to keep machines running almost continuously, crush cutting dies are preferred because they can receive a touch up sharpening while they’re still on the machine. That’s especially useful if your dies only require light work on their edges. When dies are removed from machine to be sent to a machine shop for sharpening, it can make the die cutting equipment sit idle until they return. Machining will also remove more material than might be necessary to restore a honed edge, and shorten the ultimate life of the crush cutting die unnecessarily.
Great for Many Materials
Crush cutting dies can handle a wide variety of materials with ease, including layered materials. They’re being used around the globe right now for polyboard, paper, dough, laminates, cloth, sandpaper, polypropylene, fiberglass, and metals like copper, lead and light-gauge steel sheets.
It’s hard to estimate exactly how many impression a typical crush cut die can withstand over its useful life because that is determined by the material that is fed into it as much as the die cutting equipment and dies. Some typical results are 80 million cuts on polyboard, and 2 million cuts on sandpaper. You can extrapolate from those numbers by comparing the relative abrasiveness or hardness of the materials being used for the output product.
Crush cut dies are often made in segmented form. Removable rings can be mixed and matched to set up similar runs for different sizes or for different customers. This makes it easy to offer various embossing and marking operations without needing a whole new die set for every run. All in all, the great results and long life of crush cutting dies have made them a favorite for many users of rotary die cutting equipment.