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What is a die cutting machine?

Quickly becoming one of the must-haves of crafting, die cutting machines enable you to produce multiple shapes in a range of materials, all of which identically formed. Not needing to use scissors or stencils means that the resulting shapes are uniform and professional looking every time.

There are various die cutting machines available to cut your chosen shapes out many different materials including paper, leather, fabric and plastic. Most machines are relatively compact and so are easy to store away to be brought out when you need them or can simply sit on a crafting table if you have a permanent space. There are a several brands and models to choose from, with each differing slightly. For instance, you might be swayed by a machine that is able to cut multiple shapes at once or by one that works with finer fabrics.

It's worth exploring the different machines on the market before making a final decision to ensure that you find the one which best suits your needs. The wonderful array of dies available are mostly compatible with all machines from the industry's leading brands such as Sizzix, Gemini and Spellbinders.

Manual Die cutting machines

Manual machines are operated with an easy-to-turn lever and use steel dies to cut paper, fabric and other materials. Sometimes these machines feature a power-assisted lever to make life even easier. As the paper or fabric and the die pass through the machine, uniform pressure is applied to cut out the shape. Solid areas of the shape or pattern remain solid in the finished pieces.

a die cutting machine with a crank handle
A manual die cutting machine, the Sizzix Big Shot Plus.

What is a digital die cutting machine?

Electrically powered, digital die cutting machines take advantage of the latest technology and are controlled by computer software or cartridges pre-loaded with images. These cutters do not require dies as the blade inside the machine cuts the shape as instructed by the software or cartridge. You can upload software to your computer and add new shapes and patterns over time.

What is a die?

Dies are metal shapes with a raised, sharp area for cutting. In other words, they are like pastry cutters for paper and fabric! Thicker, steel-rule dies are capable of cutting heavier materials or multiple layers at once. You will discover that you have a huge choice of dies including simple shapes, intricate patterns and everything from animals to buildings.

a die of a birthday cake and an example card made using it
A Tonic Studios die and an example of a birthday card which has been made using it.

What can you make with your die cutting machine?

Your creations will be limited only by your imagination and the dies you have collected! Die cutting machines can be utilised to make stickers, envelopes, stand-up cards, pillow boxes, and much, much more. They are especially popular with card makers, scrapbookers, quilters, anyone who enjoys crafting generally and even cake decorators as some machines can cut sheets of icing.

It is likely that once you have invested in a die cutting machine, you will continue to discover new ways to make use of it. The more shapes you cut, the more you will want to create! Enhancing your potential and ensuring that you produce professional-looking results, die cutting machines are extremely versatile additions to your crafting equipment.

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