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What Is A Die?

Die for die cutting

Here are the differences between a Foil Die, Emboss Die, Deboss Die, Die Cutting Die – how they are made, and how we use them.

Foil Die. This is a solid copper piece of metal with a .25 inch base, then raised images of what is to be foil stamped. It is made (in simple terms) by placing the piece of copper in an acid bath, then washing away all but the image to be foiled. What’s left is then made ready to use in one of many foil stamping presses. The die is heated up, a roll of your favorite color foil is attached, the press is set up to “stamp” the foil onto a sheet of paper. Between the heat, pressure, and dwell of the closed press, an image is applied to the sheet of paper. Foil stamping is infinite and unlimited as to the images that can be applied, with hundreds of foil colors available, from golds and silvers, to every color you can imagine including holographic patterns. A separate die is needed for each color of foil desired.

Emboss Die. Again, this is starts as a solid piece of copper. This time during the acid wash etching, the opposite happens. What will eventually emboss is washed away from the copper. After the die is ready to use in a press, the operator uses a premade plastic counter which forces the paper into the areas of the die etched away. Embossing gives the effect of the paper being raised up. Single level, multiple, sculptured, hand etched for super fine detail, are all types of embossing dies. There are some limitations to embossing—some designs look better than others. Fine detailed designs are difficult to show a good emboss. Certain papers also give a better emboss than others.

Deboss Die. Using the same process as making a foil die, the deboss die is simply etched deeper so the image is more profound. Really, debossing is the same as foil stamping without any foil. It gives an old-fashioned letterpress or iron type effect. Debossing pushes the paper down, the opposite of embossing. Applications for debossing are endless and gives a very cool, classy, or elegant touch to your design. Paper really determines whether a deboss will look just OK, or masterful. The combination of foil, emboss, and deboss will turn some eyes and get your design noticed—or your product sold.

Die Cutting Die. These are made from a .625 inch wood base. A laser cuts lines and designs into the wood, then metal cutting, scoring, or perforating blades (or rules) are forced into those precut lines. After the die is made ready for use in any number of different presses, the operator sets up his press to have just the right pressure so the cutting rules cut, or the scoring rules score. After a sheet of paper is die cut it can then be folded, glued, and shaped into whatever product it was designed to be. We use and stock dies for our presentation folders and business card boxes.

With any of these types of dies, a separate vector PDF file is needed when designing your project as each die is made differently and separate from each other. Files need to be 100% black, saved and outlined as PDF high-res, compressed art. Just ask us!