Common die cut parts and the raw materials used for them

Custom die cutting is one of the most sought-after services we offer at the Sur-Seal® company. It’s a flexible, highly adaptable technique that can be applied to a wide variety of parts and materials. Just how wide that variety is may surprise you.

What parts can be precision die cut?

Almost any flat (or mostly flat) component can be created through die cutting. At Sur-Seal we have a suite of flatbed and rotary die cutters in our factories, allowing us maximum flexibility to choose the right method for each new project.Just about every modern industry and manufacturing specialty utilizes some form of die cut product. The technique is so versatile, it’d be impossible to name every part it could be used to create. To give you a sense of its range, here’s just a partial list of common parts we will die cut for our customers:

  • Acoustic foams
  • Custom films
  • Electrical Insulation
  • EMI/RFI Shielding
  • Filters
  • Filtration foams
  • Foam padding
  • Gap pads/fillers
  • Gaskets
  • Inhalation/exhalation valves
  • Phase change thermal materials
  • Pressure sensitive adhesive tapes
  • Re-closable fasteners
  • Seals
  • Spacers
  • Stripping
  • Thermal insulation
  • Vibration dampening
  • Washers

One of the main reasons this technique is so widespread is its scalability. Die cutting serves both low- and high-volume orders well, depending on the type of machine that’s being used. Another feature is the ease with which custom designs can be die cut. Again, depending on the machine being used, almost any shape is possible.

But perhaps the most desirable feature of commercial die cutting is the number of materials it can work with.

What raw materials can be die cut?

Once again, the key limiting factor is profile. If the material is completely or mostly flat, it can almost certainly be die cut.

At Sur-Seal, we carry a selection of customized materials including silicone foam, high temperature silicone sponge and a variety of thermal interface materials. Visit our Sur-Cool and Sur-Sil pages if you’d like to learn more about our product lines that can be die cut.

In addition to using our own materials, we also source and die cut an extensive range of outside materials. The top priority is finding the best possible material for our client. This includes the material’s physical properties, price point and general availability.

Below, we’ve broken down the most common material categories we work with.

Elastomers and rubber materials

This category includes neoprene, silicone, Ethylene Propylene (EPDM), Nitrile (NBR and Buna-N), Styrene Butadiene (SBR), and other natural and synthetic varieties of rubber. Most synthetic rubber materials can be found in solid, foam and sponge forms.

Elastomers and rubbers tend to be compressible. They also offer a wide range of physical and environmental resistances. The combination of these qualities makes them generally well-suited for gaskets, seals, thermal interface materials, and more.

Natural textiles and fibers

This category covers anything derived from natural materials. Different natural textiles have very different applications with industry and manufacturing.

One example is wool, a popular choice when moisture wicking, insulation and sound dampening are desirable, such as weatherstripping. Another example is cork, a cost-effective gasketing material that can be combined with rubber to create a more complete seal. Even paper can be die cut for industrial uses, including as a gasketing material.

Synthetic textiles

Synthetic textiles include nylon, polyester, aramids and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These materials are lightweight and combine exceptional flexibility with exceptional strength. Die cutting synthetic textiles is a popular choice for the creation of films and filters. It is also well suited to applications that require particularly thin insulation materials.


Many of the materials that make up the synthetic textiles category are also a part of the plastics category when they’re in their solid form. Other plastics include polyethylene, polycarbonate, acrylic and polypropylene (pp).

Plastics are an extremely diverse category with a wide spectrum of characteristics. In general, they tend to be strong and relatively lightweight. Custom films, washers and gaskets are commonly cut from plastics.

Composite materials

This category covers any material composed of multiple material types. Some of the most common examples we work with at Sur-Seal are carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers. These materials are made when carbon or graphite fibers are combined with different polymers, creating a material with an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and exceptional rigidity.

Custom die-cutting with Sur-Seal

As we mentioned previously, our shop features a full suite of flatbed and rotary die cutting machines. Combine that with our team’s depth of experience working with a wide variety of materials and parts, and the result is an exceptional experience every time you work with Sur-Seal.

Sur-Seal has additional cutting methods that include CNC routing, knife cutting and water jet cutting.

If you’ve got a project in mind, we’d love to show you what we can do. Request a quote today.

Benefits of using a rotary die cutter

An advanced rotary die cutting machine is capable of executing far more than just simple cuts. It can form and assemble complex final products, with multiple joined components and finishing treatments, all in a single run.

What’s more, a rotary die cutter can apply these processes to an incredibly broad range of materials and component types. It’s difficult to find a more versatile and efficient fabrication method, particularly one that can deliver with the same winning combination of speed and accuracy.

To illustrate the full potential a rotary die cutter has to offer, we’ve chosen its top 7 capabilities and features. They are:

  1. Vast material selection
  2. Lamination
  3. Part complexity
  4. Kiss cutting
  5. Island placement
  6. Perforation
  7. Single or multiple release tabs

We think this list gets at the heart of what makes rotary die cutting so appealing and effective. Read on to learn more!

1. Vast material selection

Rotary die cutting is a profoundly flexible technique when it comes to materials. So long as the material is available in a web that can be fed off of a spool, it can almost certainly be converted using this method.

Common parent materials include:

• Elastomers and rubber materials
• Natural textiles
• Synthetic textiles
• Paper and cardboard
• Plastics
• Composite materials
• Thin metals

2. Lamination

The addition of an adhesive is one of the most popular lamination processes for our clients. We can easily add a pressure-sensitive adhesive to one or both sides of a component, then finish with a release liner to protect the component until it’s ready to be applied during assembly.

An advanced rotary die cutter is capable of not only cutting, but a variety of finishing steps including lamination. The strength, stability, appearance, sound insulation and shelf life of a material can all be improved through lamination with different substances.

The advanced tension controls on our rotary allow for laminating thin materials without distortion to the material or the final part.

3. Part complexity

Rotary die cutting is absolutely the fastest way to produce feature-dense 2D designs. When an order entails large volumes or expedited timing, there’s still no need to sacrifice on detail and accuracy with this technique.

4. Kiss cutting

When a laminated material needs to be cut in such a way that the release liner remains intact, that’s called kiss cutting. Slicing to a specified depth while preserving the material below is a precision endeavor, and particularly desirable for sheets of adhesive-backed components. These components can then be efficiently distributed, separated and placed on your assembly lines.

5. Island placement

Another finishing step an advanced rotary die cutter can take care of automatically is island placement. This is when a secondary component is placed within a specified adhesive zone on a larger part to create the final design.

An example of a common usage for island placement is medical bandages. For these designs, an absorbent pad is placed on a larger, adhesive-backed fabric strip. Then a release liner is applied to complete the design.

6. Perforations and creases

The dies used in a rotary die cutter can be made with different types of blades. Instead of a slicing blade intended to cut cleanly through a material, a perforating blade can be used to create perforated lines, or a creasing blade to create creases.

These design features increase the ease of bending or tearing components in a specified way. They’re particularly useful for assembly lines and for facilitating an easier user experienc

7. Single or multiple release tabs

These mechanisms are used to facilitate easy removal of the liner from an adhesive-coated component. These aids increase efficiency during assembly, minimizing time spent removing backing material and the number of components wasted due to damage during the removal process.

Reap the benefits of rotary die cutting with Sur-Seal

No matter the size or complexity of your design, the Sur-Seal® company has a die-cutting operation suited to your needs. Our advanced rotary machines can handle all of the features we’ve discussed above and more, all with fast and precise results. If you have any questions or are interested in working with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or request a quote today!

Mechanics behind an advanced rotary machine

If you need fast, accurate die cutting, you can’t do better than an advanced rotary machine. These cutters can handle complex cutting, placement, registration and finishing steps in a single machine. That makes for a wonderfully streamlined process, ideal for quick turnaround and large volume orders.

In this blog, we’ll cover the rotary die-cutting process from start to finish, as well as explain the mechanics that allow an advanced rotary to accomplish so much with a single machine. Finally, we’ll highlight why the rotary die-cutting process at Sur-Seal® produces exceptionally high-quality results.

The rotary die-cutting process

Everything begins with the web in rotary die cutting. The web is a continuous roll of parent material. The web is fed into the cylinders of the machine and allowed to unwind. This means the manufacturing process can continue uninterrupted for exceptionally long stretches.

The cylinders the web is fed into contain dies that spin in line with one another. These dies can stamp out, kiss cut, laminate, register and/or join parts without the need for any operator intervention or transfer between machines. Completed parts are spun out of the back end of the cutter, while any scrap material or slugs can be collected automatically for recycling.

Production speed on a rotary die cutter is measured in feet per minute. And while total time from start to finish varies based on the complexity of the part and materials being used, advanced rotary die cutting is all-around one of the fastest fabrication solutions on the market.

The mechanics behind an advanced rotary

At the core of any advanced rotary machine are the cylinders, paired cylinders to be precise, into which the web is fed. These cylinder pairs (commonly known as rotary stations) are typically made up of one die-cutting cylinder and one hardened anvil cylinder. The two cylinders then rotate in opposite directions from each other. That opposite rotation allows them to continually draw in the web and process new parts in a single, smooth motion.

Some designs only require a single pair of cylinders, but more complex designs will usually travel through multiple rotary stations to create all the desired features. Sometimes, instead of a die-cutting and anvil pair, a rotary station will instead have male and female tooling sets. Such sets are used to create different desired effects on either side of a component, such as different crease lines.

With older model rotary die cutters, it was sometimes a struggle to achieve appropriate tension and alignment across the entire system when precision tolerances are needed. However, the Sur-Seal company uses a rotary converting platform, where each rotary station is powered by electronically geared servo motors. These servo motors allow each station to rotate with incredible precision — even at varying speeds. Tension can be adjusted, and registration can be corrected independently at each rotary station, resulting in exceptionally tight tolerances.

The importance of tolerance in rotary die cutting

Tolerance refers to the mechanical fit of a part, given any deviations it may have from the specification upon which it was designed, essentially, how much variability can be permitted before the final components no longer fit together as intended.

We wanted to call out tolerance, because it is one of the most scrutinized factors in the evaluation of manufacturing quality. The tighter the tolerance, the higher the quality of the work. For a capable, three-station rotary die-cutting machine, operation between ten- and fifteen-thousandths of an inch tolerance is generally considered acceptable.

However, with our machines, we can do even better than that. We can produce components displaying a tolerance within five- to ten-thousandths of an inch. Depending on the material and application, a reduction in tolerance variability by thousandths of an inch can drastically improve the quality and performance of the component.

Sur-Seal delivers excellence with rotary die cutting

Whether you’re looking for precision results, need a prompt turnaround or simply want to use a fabricator you can feel completely confident in, we’re with you at Sur-Seal. If you have a project in mind, request a quote today! You can also head to our die-cutting services page to learn more about the various die-cutting services we offer.