Kiss Cut vs. Die Cut Stickers

Kiss Cut // Contour Cut or Die Cut?

Whats the difference and which is best?  Becky Buttons will give you the skinny in this article along with some info about kiss cut sticker sheets as well. 

At Brick City Printing our stickers are printed on 24 inch rolls of vinyl and then individually cut out. We have several options for how your stickers are cut and finished. It is helpful to understand the difference to make the best choices for your product. Different print shops use different terms because the technology has changed over time. In this article I'll lay out the options and benefits of each. 

Die Cutting

Die Cut Sticker Example

At Brick City Printing, we use the term Die Cut to refer to a sticker that is cut to the shape of your art, all the way through the sticker and backing. 

Die cutting used to refer to using an actual steel die and cutting press to cut stickers to shape. Most print shops do not use real steel dies for this any more in favor of the more modern "digital die cutting" or plotters to cut out your stickers.  A plotter is a machine with a blade that uses vector shapes to cut through material, like an industrial grade Cricut or Silhouette. 

Even though stickers cut with plotters are technically not cut with dies, we still use the term die cut because the end result is the same - a sticker cut to the shape of your art all the way through the backing. 

At Brick City Printing we do still have an old school steel die cutting press and dies. This is why we don't charge extra for die cut stickers that are standard shapes or dies that we already have made in the shop. When you order a custom shaped sticker that you want cut all the way through the backing, depending on the size of the job we may get a die made for you. But for short run orders we almost always cut them on a digital plotter. 

Kiss Cutting // Contour Cutting

Kiss Cut (also regularly referred to as Contour Cut) refers to a cut that goes through the sticker but not the backing. This way you'll still have a sticker that is cut out to the shape of your design, but the backing remains rectangular. 

Kiss cut stickers are generally easier to peel and are preferable when you are applying your stickers to packages or to a product. If the sticker itself is not the end product or a promotional giveaway, kiss cutting is a bit more affordable and easier to handle. 

Kiss cutting and contour cutting refer to the same process at Brick City Printing. 

Kiss Cut Sticker Example

Weeded // Unweeded Sticker Sheets

Kiss Cut Sticker Sheet

When Kiss cutting or Contour cutting, we use a plotter to cut out the shapes in your art. Then we can either weed away the excess vinyl, like the example above, or we can leave it, creating a sticker sheet like the one shown to the left. 

Weeding a kiss cut sticker sheet allows for easier peeling and is the preference for people who are applying their labels to packages or products. 

Sticker sheets, where the excess vinyl is left in tact, are used to make retail-ready sticker sheets. When ordering kiss cut sticker sheets, we can usually tell whether you need them weeded or not from the art you submit. But you can always specify in the notes what your prefernce is. There is no difference in price for weeded or unweeded. 

Don't Come for Me, Old Print Nerds

Yes, yes. I know that some of you old guard print guys out there will tell me that you can cut through a sticker but not the backing with a die and you can also cut all the way through the backing using contour cut plotters. I don't want to hear about it. If you have some suggestions for ways to make the finished product easy to understand and select from a consumer stand point, then you can @ me. Otherwise save it. 

- Becky Buttons