What Are Steel Rule Cutting Dies?

December 7, 2015

In the world of die cutting there are about as many different varieties of die cutters as there are different materials to cut, and even more numerous methods of employing these cutting systems. One of the most popular and most commonplace dies are the steel ones. Properly called steel rule dies, these are fashion, as the name suggests, from industrial-grade steel.

Steel cutting dies are perhaps among the oldest and most popular, originally being made from a single precision cut block of steel, which is then tempered, hardened, and liberally oiled prior to, during, and after every use to provide a rudimentary anti-rust surface. With the introduction of stainless steel, the need for a liberal and religious oiling, to maintain a non-stick and rust-free surface, no longer became a necessity, and the production of steel rule dies began to increase to meet with the growing demand.

Making Steel Rule Cutting Dies

In a nutshell, steel rule dies are really nothing more than specially tooled and shaped blocks of tempered and hardened steel, now either is made from stainless steel or chromium-plated steel for added durability. Not so many years ago, steel rule dies were made by hand, with most of the more detailed bits being added unto the die by hand.

This process was somewhat time-consuming and so the creation process was refined, wherein a block of industrial grade steel was shaped and onto it was superimposed various tooled strips of specially hardened steel strips called ‘rules’. These rules were made beforehand and only later attached to be base, the whole then being tempered through heat-treating, and hardened.

This resulted in a die that was less laborious to manufacture, and therefore more affordable. Steel rule cutting dies are still employed to this day as the most rudimentary form of die cutting systems. This is due, not only because they are now relatively easier to make and maintain than they were in the past, but their deceivingly simple nature often allowed for a wide variety of designs and aesthetics to be masterfully executed, without having to spend a fortune on specialised equipment.

It is still used to cut most semi-hard and soft substances like wood, thin metal sheeting, plastics and cloth, and the process remains an integral part of the die cutting industry. For more information about steel rule cutting dies, or various other types of die cutters, please consult a professional die cutting company Victoria.

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