What is Thermal Die Cutting?
There are many different type of die cutting available on an industrial level. One of the more recent and popular versions of die cutting is thermal die cutting. This process is not open to all materials, and in fact this process is only an option for materials that can be thermally displaced. Thermal die cutting works by using controlled heat to displace tiny portions of material. This is all done with only minimal distortion to the larger material. The dies that are used from this process are different than normal dies. Thermal dies are comprised of a magnesium alloy plates that have been chemically etched. The dies come in various sizes and thickness. Both sides of the die are different, and this helps to make the thermal process possible. You'll find a photosensitive emulsion-coat on one side of the die.
Thermal die cutting works best when trying to kiss cut vinyl. These dies have amazing precision and can do very intricate patters and designs. You will find graphic marking vinyl is usually cut with thermal die cutting. This is because the vinyl can be manipulated by heat. Polycarbonate, polyester, paper, and foils all have a lot of trouble with thermal cutting.
Temperature is an important factor when working with this sort of cutting. Considering you are working with a very specific material, temperature becomes extremely importat. It is important to know that there is not a consistent rate of temperature for thermal cutting. Normally, you see temperatures from 285 degrees Fahrenheit to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature greatly depends on thickness, color, and even cast. The pieces will also have different dwelling times. This goes up to 2.5 seconds.
There are some instances where you can increase your temperature above 320 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no specific rule to how hot, but know that at certain temperatures (high temperatures) your vinyl can be distorted and even shrink. You can test the level of heat your material can take by using a sample piece. Sometimes, taking your time is better than rushing through.
This option for cutting is a great alternative to traditional die cutting. It is important to know that there are different option/methods of cutting final products, and that some are better suited than others. Talk to your local die cutting service to find out what process would be best for you and your company.