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What is the difference between die-cut and kiss-cut stickers?

By David Willis © 2019

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The difference between die-cut and kiss-cut stickers is how the stickers are cut in relation to the silicone release backing paper. For die-cut stickers the sticker and the backing paper are cut to the same size and shape. For kiss-cut stickers the sticker is cut to a different size or shape to the backing paper.

kiss cut stickers, printed in full colour

All stickers begin their life as a roll (or very large sheet) of self-adhesive vinyl, made up of two parts: the top layer of substrate which is printed on, and the bottom layer of silicone release paper, used as a base for the sticker to be held on, and which facilitates easy removal, in a peel and release motion. In the production of stickers a choice needs to be made in how to cut the vinyl into the shape and size of the sticker. Either a die tool is made, or kiss-cutters (sometimes called contour cutters) are employed.

Where die-cutting is the preferred method, a special tool is made for each job (called a ‘die’). The die is made to the size and shape of the required sticker and is used to cut out the stickers from the sheet of vinyl, and a stamp-cut motion. The result is that both the sticker and backing paper are the same shape and size. The self-adhesive vinyl sticker effectively runs to the edge of the backing paper. This sometimes makes the sticker a little bit more tricky to remove from the backing paper.

For kiss-cutting, a plotter or cutting machine is used and the stickers are contour cut to shape. The cutting machine cuts through the vinyl but not the backing paper, allowing multiple stickers to be presented on the same sheet of backing paper. Sticker sheets are made this way. Since no die is required, there are lower setup costs associated with kiss-cutting.

David Willis
David Willis
This article was written by David Willis, a print entrepreneur and respected industry expert.

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