Paper Matters Blog
How Techniques Bring Print Pieces to Life – Die Cuts

Today, we’re kicking off a new series examining our latest promotion—the Cougar® Print Techniques Brochure—and the die cuts, foils and varnishes that bring it to life. Print techniques can add to the experience and impact of your piece, but fancy embellishments will only take you so far. The right method on the wrong paper has the potential to detract from the hard work you’ve put into producing a standout piece, while the right paper can enhance your efforts. Over the next four installments, we’ll focus on the specific techniques within the brochure, explain what each is and what it does, starting with the die cut on the cover.

The Cougar® Print Techniques Brochure features a rounded edge made using a traditional die cut

Die Cuts Get Noticed

In printing terms, a die is a steel blade that cuts through paper to give it a unique shape or cut-out and die cutting is the process of cutting irregular shapes in paper. The process uses metal rules mounted on a letterpress or highly accurate lasers to “vaporize” intricate designs or shapes into many sheets of paper at once. Common applications include rounded corners, windows in brochure covers and slits for business cards.  While dies can range from basic to very complex with varieties producing different results, there are two main forms that you should learn.

  1. Traditional Die Cutting

(pictured below). We employed a conventional steel rule die during this project, but there’s another method that’s equally as effective.

  1. Laser Die Cutting

Unlike traditional dies, laser die cutting utilizes a high-powered laser to cut the material into various shapes. Steered by a computer, a fine laser beam cuts through hundreds of sheets with perfect precision—achieving intricate shapes that were once unattainable.

The most important consideration when utilizing die cutting is the integrity of the paper. Printed on Cougar 80 lb. Cover, Smooth Finish, the brochure is a great example of just how much Cougar paper can handle. Whether you’re using one technique or many, every sheet of Cougar is made at the same mill on the same machine to the same rigorous standard day in and day out.

Impact at a Discount

Not only does Cougar’s exceptional fiber structure handle die cutting beautifully, but it’s also the perfect time to take advantage of the technique.


The Make Your Mark promotion featured a series of die cuts on the cover

The United States Postal Service developed an annual Promotions and Incentives Calendar for marketers, printers and mailers alike, with the intent to help them save on commonly used print techniques. The promotional periods range between 3 to 6 months and right now, the Tactile, Sensory, & Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion is available for use. This promo provides a discount to eligible mailers who incorporate a multi-sensory experience like special visual effects, sound, scent, texture/tactile treatments and even taste into their print piece. Eligible mail pieces include USPS Marketing Mail® letters and flats.

Click this link to request a free copy of the brochure and check our blog for the second installment in this series or for other print marketing tips.



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Nicholas Pearson
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