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Creating Proper Die Cutting Files

Technology offers a tremendous opportunity to streamline the process of making die cutting dies, saving valuable time and effort. Years ago, your finisher was required to wait for press sheets and art boards. Today’s technology allows this to be accomplished electronically, and finishers that do so offer several production advantages. Messenger fees, production time and other valuable resources can be conserved. As an added benefit, potential problems usually are identified sooner.

Here are some key guidelines to bear in mind when creating and sending electronic files for die cutting dies:

Send an appropriate file format – Many die makers import your die line file directly into a CAD program, which needs to “read” the information to reproduce the die line. Certain formats work better than others for this purpose. Diecrafters frequently works with Adobe Illustrator, EPS, DWG, and DXF formats. For die cutting die files, layout files such as Quark are not conducive to manipulation, and will not work.

“Strip” the file of print-related information – In order for die makers to produce an accurate die, the source file needs to be “stripped down” of the information needed to print the job. Color information, masks and screens can obstruct the exact dimensions of the die line.

Be sure to remove any “hidden” elements – Occasionally, files are sent with “hidden” or embedded lines. Though these lines are not always visible on-screen, the die maker’s CAD program will read them. This will cause the laser to execute repeated burns, rendering the die useless. This may not be caught until the die is on press, which will cause production delays. Be sure to check for any hidden layers in your file.

Send text instructions in a separate file – Designers often color-code die lines to distinguish different cuts, such as perfs and scores. These colors can be misinterpreted without clarification. A separate file containing written instructions that serve as a guide will eliminate confusion.

By keeping these tips in mind as you create your die cutting die line files, you will be sure to avoid costly production delays.