History of Die-Cutting

Believe it or not, die-cutting, or the act of cutting out shapes using dies, has a long history that dates back to the mid-1800s. According to Colvin Friedman, die cutting started as a way “to cut leather for the shoe industry more efficiently.” Back then, making shoes was very labor-intensive and time-consuming since the holes in the leather were individually punched by hand. The manual process yielded many inconsistencies between the shoes, hence the introduction of die cutting. Since then, cobblers were able to “create sole patterns that could be reliably replicated through the die cutting process.” With the advent of the mallet handle die cutting machine came the mass production of soles and standardized sizes for the masses.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s when further innovations in dies and die cutting machines were invented. The creation of the swing-arm clicker press helped the shoemaking industry and other industries to die cut different shapes and sizes with various sized and shaped dies. This then started the mass production of products like plastic, metal, tubing, and food items.

The 1950s saw the invention of hand-held die cutting tools  and small table machines, which were mostly used for homes and schools. What started as a simple and convenient way to help cobblers speed up the shoemaking process has turned into a staple tool in every crafter’s home.


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