Perforation and Die-cutting Machines: What’s The Difference?

paper cutting machine

Perforation and Die-cutting Machines: What’s The Difference?

The paper and pulp market remains one of the biggest industries in the world and is expected to reach $679.7 2 billion by 2027. A slice of this market involves paper products like envelopes, cards, and invitations, which are typically manufactured using perforation or die-cut machines.

If you’re planning to invest in these machines but unsure of what makes each of them different, this article will explore the differences between these two methods of fabrication as well as their pros and cons.

What Is Perforation?

Perforated products are manufactured by punching small holes on the surface of the sheet, thus creating an opening. This is done to allow for the easy separation of two sections of material.

Perforation is done through a process called rotary die-cutting. Perforation is often used for mailers and envelopes, though it can also be used on promotional items like calendars, coupons, or notebooks.

There are several methods of perforation used today, including single-rotary hole punching, double-rotary hole punching, and laser-cut perforation.

  • Single-rotary hole: This is a type of perforation punching that uses a drill bit to punch a single hole along a line of perforation. This process typically causes more waste than other types of rotary die-cutting, but it can reduce the amount of time spent running orders since it is faster and cheaper than some other perforation methods.
  • Double-rotary hole punching: This type of rotary die cut machine uses a drill bit to punch two holes along a line of perforation in one motion, causing less waste than single-rotary hole punching.
  • Laser-cut perforations: These are cut by high-powered lasers which create an opening between or above two intersecting lines of perforation without actually cutting through the entire sheet of paper. This is an excellent option for high-volume jobs that require a small hole size and a high number of holes per product.

Pros and Cons of Perforation

There are several pros and cons to perforating paper products that should be taken into consideration before placing an order for perforated items.


  • Allows for easy product separation
  • Helps keep your branding intact on the product, even after opening


  • Perforation can cause additional waste because of dust created during drilling
  • The edges of the perforations may not be clean and smooth if there is residue in the drill holes or burrs along the die-cut line.

What Is Die-Cutting?

Die-cut paper products are manufactured using a process where a die-shaped metal blade is used to cut or punch an individual shape from a roll of paper or other low-strength material like foil, cloth, and rubber.

To put it simply, die-cutting is about quickly mass-producing cut-out shapes without the need for scissors, craft knives, or stencils.

There are two types of dies used in die-cutting: the upper and lower cutting dies. These two form a shape or image when brought together and are used to cut material such as paper. These dies can be made up of either one piece (called a solid die) or multiple pieces (called a split die).

  • Solid Die: The upper and lower cutting dies are made of one piece that cuts both layers at the same time. Solid die-cutting is used for materials up to 1/8” thick, but cannot be used to create cut-outs with rounded edges.
  • Split Die: The upper and lower cutting dies are made up of two separate pieces. When brought together, the split die forms a shape or image in one motion. Split die-cutting is used for materials up to 1/8” thick.

Both solid or split dies can be made from steel or aluminum and may be coated with chrome, nickel, or another finish.

Pros and Cons of Die-Cut

Die-cutting offers many pros and only a few cons, making it an excellent option for almost any application that requires die-cut paper products


  • Die-cutting produces clean cuts with sharp shapes and smooth edges
  • Handle designs are often more practical for folding, tabbing, or inset pull-outs


  • Material thickness limitations make die-cutting less practical for high-volume runs.
  • Metal dies can wear out over time and eventually need to be replaced

Choosing Between Die-Cutting and Perforation

When choosing between perforating or die-cutting, it is essential to know that each process has its benefits and limitations.

For example, perforation is often the best option if you need to preserve your branding on the product but may not work as well with thicker materials. Die-cutting offers a clean cut that makes it perfect for folding, tabbing, or inset pullouts, but will only work with thinner materials.

If you’re still unsure which of the two you should get for your business, be sure to have an in-depth discussion with a reliable manufacturer or seller about each machine’s capabilities.

SBL Machinery is a leading printing and packaging equipment manufacturer with clients from over 30 countries around the world. If you are interested in discussing the capabilities of machines like industrial die cutters, contact us today. Our team would be glad to share what our products are capable of.

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