Die-cut components 101: tooling methods

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By Chris Doyle | Jul 22, 2015
Foam spacers

In order to solve difficult project designs, the GM Nameplate engineering team uses a range of die-cut fabrication methods. The die-cutting process requires cutting material (and usually adhesive) into custom shapes that fit in an area of the product to solve a specific problem to improve device functionality. These problems include issues of sound dampening, overheating, air flow, EMI/RFI shielding, thermal management, electrical insulation, bonding, gap filling and sealing.

At GMN, we provide four types of tooling processes including steel rule die, chemical etch die, rotary tooling and Class-A (steel). Each of these methods is outlined below in greater detail in order to determine which may be the best fit for your unique project.

Steel rule die  

  • Advantages:
    • Inexpensive (under $500)
    • Quick turnaround time (5 days)
    • Commonly used
  • Disadvantages:
    • Short life (under 100,000 hits)
    • Loose tolerance of +/-.015
    • Limited on cutting thicker materials over .030”

Chemical etch die

  • Advantages:
    • Inexpensive (under $700)
    • Quick turnaround time (5 days)
    • Tighter tolerance of +/-.007”
  • Disadvantages:
    • Limited life depending on material
    • Material thickness limitations of .010”

Rotary tooling

  • Advantages:
    • Inexpensive (typically under $1000)
    • Great for high volume production
    • Medium to long life (over 100,000 hits)
  • Disadvantages:
    • Limited material cutting options (typically under .010”)
    • Loose tolerance of +/-.015”
    • Typically used for label type materials

Class-A (steel)

  • Advantages:
    • Very precise with a tolerance of +/-.005”
    • Ability to cut all types of material
    • Used for high volume production (over 100,000 pieces)
  • Disadvantages:
    • Expensive (over $2000)
    • Longer lead time (4-6 weeks to build)

For more information on die-cut components, visit our webpage on die-cut components or read our other two blogs in this series: