If you’re like me, it took many years and several incarnations of digital print to make you a believer of the quality and potential of this new way of providing print. Now, I’m not only a believer, I’m a preacher! But that story is for another day. Today, let’s talk about the new post-press technologies in digital: the world of digital die-cutting.

What makes a die-cutter digital?


Conventional die-cutting requires steel ruled dies, generally built on boards with male and female counterparts for scoring and possibly stripping. Whereas in digital, the information for the layout, cuts, and scores or creases, transmits electronically to the mechanism where the piece will be cut. In our shop, we have two different digital die-cutting methods. One is with a Kongsberg flatbed, the other is the Highcon Euclid.

The Kongsberg is a cutting table with a scoring wheel and knives. Our shop use’s this machine primarily for sample cutting. That said, when I got the call from a print shop who needed 35 custom landscape folders, with a special pocket design, printed in 4 color-process, for a function the next week…in Dubai.

I said: “No Problem!”

Shortly thereafter his pocket folders shipped out the door and halfway around the world.




3D Printing and Laser Die-cutting


The Highcon uses a different technology mix, it starts with the DART. “The creasing is carried out by the Highcon patented Digital Adhesive Rule Technology: DART. The Euclid software translates the digital data and sends it to the special DART canister which releases a special polymer onto a Highcon DART foil in the form of rules that once cured, will produce hard raised lines.” The DART is the first part of the process to score the sheet, then the sheet is cut with high powered CO2 lasers.


Last summer, the week that NASA shared the first in-orbit view of Jupiter, Pocket Folders Fast began using laser die-cutting technology in the production of pocket folders.

Go Science!


The Digital Advantage


Other than the sheer coolness of this technology, there are two primary advantages to removing the requirements of a steel ruled die.

  • One, the layout goes electronically from one computer to the next; what was once hours of labor is now minutes through the ether.
  • Two, the materials involved in making a steel die are not cost effective on short runs, which are the fastest growing portion of pocket folder and packaging orders.

Because the sheets-per-hour speeds of the digital die-cutters aren’t as fast as conventional die-cutting, short run, custom orders are the sweet spot of all things digital.


Precision and Options


Additionally, being a laser, every sheet is cut with precision and if needed, fine details. This technology allows for any option of size, or shape, and also any window, name, logo, or intricate flora and fauna cut from the sheet. As tactile expression grows to be an expected part of the brand experience, don’t forget that shape and cut are as intricate to the design process as color and texture.


The Cutting Edge


Giving your customers the option of anything imaginable, and offering these options at a competitive price, in a timeframe that amazes, is service that locks in loyalties. It’s true, digital die-cutting technology gives you the cutting-edge advantage.


Let the Pocket Folders Fast team introduce you to the Highcon Euclid:


Highcon & Pocket Folders Fast (CAPTIONS) from NAPCO Video Services on Vimeo.


Originally Published in NPOA News and Updates July 2017 by Mardra Sikora