Rubber die cutting is a manufacturing process that forms sheets of rubber into flat, thin shapes with the use of blades or lasers. Rubber is one of the most common materials that is die cut because it is easy to penetrate and leaves a clean cut each time. There are also many flat rubber shapes that are used in both commercial and industrial applications.
Die cutting is a fast, automated and cost effective method of forming shapes of any size in small or large runs and thus is the most popular method to manufacture products like rubber gaskets, stickers, grommets, bumpers, bushings, washers and noise absorbers. These products are used in a wide variety of applications for the electronic, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, aviation, military and transportation industries to form a water and air tight seal, absorb shock and noise and reduce unwanted vibration caused by heavy machinery. Any type of rubber may be die cut, including natural rubber, red rubber, neoprene, silicone rubber, cloth-inserted rubber, open or closed cell sponge rubber, synthetic neoprene rubber and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EDPM) rubber.
Most modern die cutting machines are fully automated and CNC (computer numeric control) operated. First, a detailed drawing with all the part's dimensions and tolerances are uploaded into computer software, where a cutting device (either a laser or sharp blade), which is guided by the computer, carries out the cutting technique. Most rubber die cut products are custom cut, meaning they are designed to unique and exact specifications for each customer. The most common way to cut rubber material is via the steel rule die cutting method, where a flat, cookie-cutter like die containing sharp blades that are in the shape of the product's design cut through a thin rubber sheet with pressure. Rubber products are also sometimes cut by lasers, which perform the cutting action with high temperatures that melt the rubber. Die cutting produces two main types of rubber products: kiss cut shapes and crush cut shapes. Most rubber products are crush cut, meaning the laser or blade completely penetrates through the whole piece of material. Kiss cutting, on the other hand, is used to make products like adhesive-backed gaskets that adhere to a surface. Kiss cut rubber products are cut from a multi layered sheet of material that is rubber on the top, paper on the bottom and adhesive material in the middle. The cutting device is programmed to cut as deep as the adhesive, but not through the bottom layer. The resulting product is a sheet of stickers, pads or other adhesive-backed product.