Cutting Thicker Papers

Hey all. Got my first plate coming in from Boxcar and I’m experimenting with the dreaded L letterpress machine. I was curious what the best course of action is for a custom cut.

Are custom die cuts super expensive? Would a Cameo Silhouette cutter handle thicker papers such as 130lb or the higher thicker 220?

Any info is greatly appreciated!

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I’m not really sure if a Cameo would cut 110lb paper, and certainly not 220lb. Although the newest model can certainly do a lot of fun things and cut different materials (I think even fabric with iron-on backing), you’d have to check the different blade lengths to see if it would even cut through thicker cotton papers like those used for letterpress printing. The hardest part, to be honest, would be keeping the paper still in the machine. I’m afraid if the new model is still using the sticky-back grid feeding system, you’d probably ruin your fluffy, pillowy cotton paper peeling it off once it was cut. That would be sad.

I think you may be better off using your L’s Epic Six (isn’t that what it comes with?) as a die-cutting machine as well as a little press. The new system, the Lifestyle Crafts Evolution, may actually be a decent die-cutting machine. I keep considering buying one just to experiment with, because it’s all metal and magnetic.

I’m not sure about pricing on buying custom dies for die-cutting as I haven’t yet gotten into that part of the process. I think you’d have to get some custom specifications to use them on the L because most custom dies are mounted onto wood so that they can be locked up in a chase for a press to use. The dies that come for the L are flimsy thin metal things, so it’s totally different. You’d have to come up with a custom solution for running a die through the L if you bought one from another company.

Hey Nifty. Thanks for the info! I currently have some quotes on the way for custom dies. I was also looking into and discussing some of the higher powered die-cutters like the KNK Zing. The company actually was nice enough to test cut the paper for me, Crane Lettra 220. While it cut it fairly well, the soft nature of the paper caused some fraying on one side of the paper while the other was a pretty clean cut.

I guess I was wondering if these papers, or any thick paper, is within the limits of a blade-based cutter

I wouldn’t trust a blade-based cutter with the cottony paper used for letterpress. I think that it would fray too much, just like your example (with a die, even!) because of the way the blade drags across the paper. Like I mentioned, I think the hardest part is holding the paper still; anything that must use a sticky surface to hold the paper would ruin the paper upon removal. Or at least, it would happen some of the time.

Now, I’ve seen some awesome laser work on thick paper, but that has it’s own caveats (burnt edges).

I think the advantage of a die is that it’s one-hit, one-cut and the pressure can be made nice and even. This makes a much cleaner edge.

I’m sure you know this but any cut will have a smooth side and a rough side. The smooth side is from the flat edge of the blade, the tapered side leaves it rougher. Particularly with Lettra 220, you need to plan to backtrim all 4 sides (if you’re printing business cards). I’ve had Lettra diecut and it saves the paper from compressing under the grip of the clamp, but it can still leave some fraying on the edges. You need to do a little clean up after you pop the piece out of the sheet.

thanks for the info. i’ve decided to go with die cutting. i think that has more solutions in the end as opposed to a blade based cutter.

Jonsel, how does one backtrim or do cleanup on such paper after cutting? Sorry…i’m new :)

Can you guys recommend any other papers that would letterpress ok and cut relatively cleanly?