What is a “Die Cut” Anyway?

“We make die cuts.”  Hopefully, our current (and future) customers know exactly what we’re talking about when we say “die cuts.”  Everyone else?  Maybe not.  So what, exactly, is a “die cut”?    

Let me try to explain it this way…  When someone asks me, “What do you do?”  I almost always respond with a question.  “You know the air filter you put in your house?”  For some reason, at this point I usually hold out my hands like I’m holding an invisible 24x24x2 filter…  I continue, “We make the paperboard frame that goes around it.”  That “paperboard frame”?  That’s the die cut.  Pretty simple, huh?  

The person asking the question then usually says something along the lines of, “Really?  That’s it?  That’s all you do every day?”  At that point I try to steer the conversation towards something about taking pride in American manufacturing, or about playing a part - albeit a very small one - in protecting people from airborne allergens and other contaminants (saying Ebola usually gets their attention).  Anyway, most people would call our product a “filter frame,” but for whatever reason our customers typically refer to them as “die cuts.”  We like our customers and we try not to confuse them whenever possible, so that’s what we call them too.  

Now, why is it called a “die cut”?  If you Google the phrase “die cut,” you will mainly find arts & crafts stores and scrapbooking websites.  In fact, the first result is the website for Jo-Ann’s Fabrics (which I personally consider to be Hell on Earth).  Just to be clear, we don’t scrapbook.  

Why so many scrapbooking results?  First, there are a lot more scrapbookers out there than filter manufacturers, much less filter frame manufacturers.  Second, the term “die cut” is simply a generic term for anything cut by a cutting “die.”  The word “die” is just a fancy way of describing the tool that actually cuts out the finished product.   Scrapbookers use small dies and small die cutters that cut pictures and construction paper into cute flower shapes.  We use heavy steel rule dies and 30-ton presses that run several hundred feet of paperboard per minute and cut out filter frames at a rate of several thousand per hour.  It’s the same general idea, just at a different scale.

Die cuts.  Filter Frames.  Paperboard Filtration Products.  Whatever you like to call them, that’s what we do every day.  If you need some, please give us a call.  Just don’t call us for scrapbooking supplies.  We don’t do that.  We make die cuts.