Steel Rule Die Basics

Steel rule die cutting is a popular and inexpensive method used for trimming parts. Cutting dies are made from pre-hardened and pre-sharpened steel rule, which is fitted into a pre-cut die base in order to keep its form. Steel rule dies can be constructed from 2 point (.028" thick) to 6 point (.084" thick) and in heights ranging from less than an inch and up to 4". Steel rule thickness to be used in any die is determined by the material to be die cut. Wood, solid core composite, aluminum, and mild steel are some of the materials that can be used as a die base.

Rubber strips or blocks may be positioned on each side of the cutting rule. This "ejection rubber" causes the cut part to "eject" from the die and be removed easily. Rubber height and density will be selected based upon the material to be cut.

Center bevel rule is the most common type of steel rule and provides a long life in terms of wear. Certain applications may require a cleaner cut which can be attained by using a side bevel, or side "face" rule.

When care is taken to properly set up the cutting die on a press, many thousands of cuts can be achieved from a carefully crafted steel rule die. High quality steel rule dies are laser manufactured and will maintain accurate tolerances to as low as +/- .005".

Some key items to consider when ordering a steel rule die include:

  • Material to be cut
  • Number of parts to cut
  • Shape & design of the part
  • Number of images per die
  • Final part quality needs
  • Press specifications
  • Die base, rule, & ejection specifications
  • Any extras or additional features
  • Delivery Date

For advice and further information to help your die cutting operation, please call our capable Key Dies staff.

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