noob question on illustrator files for die’s

Hi there,

I am trying to design an image in illustrator to be made into a die but I have a question about how this all really works…

What I want to know is do line weights matter, or are these dies CNC’d or burned based on the paths in the file?

Thanks for any help.

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Metal or polymer? Line weights matter in that the plate is only physically capable of holding a finite amount of information. I’d stay around .5 points or greater until you get more familiar with the materials. Maybe even 1 point for starters.

Im really confused if the die makers remove material within the paths or do they remove (or preserve) material based on your “overprint preview” with line weights, fills, etc…

I think you’re saying the line weights and fills do matter, and you shouldnt go any lower than .5-1 pt in line weight?

The matter is the line thickness. 0.5 of a point is a safe line thickness.

For example, If you make a 0.1 of a point line, it will be washed out.

You can go lower then .5, after you have experimented with few plates.

Good luck.

When you say turned into a die, do you want to have a diecut made, or get a plate to print from made from a digital file.


When you say turned into a die, do you want to have a diecut made, or get a plate to print from made from a digital file.


I’d like to get a plate to print from made from a digital file.


You should be able to get a hairline rule to work on a photopolymer plate without problem. I believe that is .25. I use hairline for rule work and registration marks and don’t have a problem with stability of the line during presswork.

The rule in this example is hairline:


Gerald is correct- it should be .25 minimum. On occasion I still run into difficulty with lines at .25- the lines on the plate will bend or warp. I have not figured out why…

Your file will most likely be turned into film positives to create the printing plates. If your designing with more than one color and are planning on having them actually over lap when printed then your overprint settings will matter. Be sure to tell this to whom ever is making your films or plates. Be sure to work in solids and not use transparency. Any transparency will turn into a halftone screen. While it is possible to print halftone screen via letterpress it’s not the easiest of tasks, especially for a lever platen press. If your job will be done on a cylinder or better platen press talk to the printer first about what sort of screen line and percent he’ll be able to hold on the stock your requesting.

You can always double check you art before sending it out by printing separations to your desktop printer. These prints should accompany your file to the plate maker whenever possible as well so they know what your expecting.

just to elaborate on that. Whether you mean you’re creating a die-cut line for cutting or simply a plate for printing, the trapping settings are important in illustrator. The default is to have things knockout what’s below, so if you create a design using two spot colors and they overlap, when the film separations are made there will be gaps in one of the plates allowing the other color to print in that area…that may or may not be what is desired. In Illustrator, selecting the lines and looking at their “atttibutes” gives you the option of selecting “overprint”. This tells the software that you don’t mind this line printing over another.

Under the “view” menu in illustrator, there’s an option to see “overprint preview” and this gives you a rough estimation of the colors overlapping. If you turn overprint stroke off, you’ll see the colors don’t mix, but that’s because illustrator is “knocking out” the part of the line below. If you print with polymer plates like this, registration better be pretty tight, I’d assume.