Rotary die cutting is a manufacturing process that is used to cut a pattern on a flat stock material. This method is commonly used in mass production because it is the most time efficient die-cutting method. As an engraved die rolls over the stock material, it cuts through the material leaving pieces that are cut to the exact pattern engraved on the die. There are two types of rotary die cutting: metal to metal cutting, and kiss cutting.
In this industrial cutting process, the rolling cylindrical die is placed in a fixed position at one end of the die cutting machine, also called a rotary press. Stock material is fed to the engraved die by means of a conveyor belt or other system that moves the material along at a rate even with the rolling cylindrical die's movement. When it reaches the appropriate point, the engraved die presses down on and cuts through the material.
The pressure of the rolling die, combined with the sharp edges of the engraved pattern, make it possible for the rotary die cutting machine to cut all the way through the stock material for metal to metal cuts. The stock material is cleanly severed into individual, ready-to-assemble pieces. This form of rotary die cutting is commonly used to make cardboard packaging or other mass-produced flat work pieces.
In some instances, it may be preferable to cut only part of the way through the stock material. In this type of rotary die cutting, called kiss cutting, the blades of the die are set slightly higher so that the cut goes through the stock material but not the backing material beneath it. This type of rotary die cutting is commonly used for products with adhesive backing, including postage stamps and mailing labels.
Rotary die cutting can also combine both types of cutting in a single operation. By creating an engraved rolling die with several heights, the rotary press can be used to cut a certain number of parts on each sheet. The individual parts that compose the sheet are kiss cut while the sheet, as a whole, is accomplished by a metal to metal cut. This is another form of rotary die cutting that is popular for adhesive backed items, such as rolls of stickers or sheets of printable name tags.