Skip to content
setup waste for adhesive parts
Lee K. HouseJan 16, 20234 min read

3 Ways to Avoid Setup Waste and Reduce the Cost of Your Adhesive Part

It’s a Monday morning, and you’re staring at your latest quote in confusion. After a long sigh, you crack your knuckles and draft an email:

Dear Adhesive Converter,

By my calculations, you will be able to make X amount of parts using Y amount of material. Where is the rest of the material going?

You might not realize it now, but setup waste is inevitable in the converting process.

Over the years, Strouse has educated hundreds of clients about material setup waste and developed our own effective ways to minimize it. 

As you read about the role waste plays in adhesive converting, you’ll understand why setup waste is essential, how to avoid setup waste, and how reduced waste ultimately decreases the cost of your product.

3 Ways to Avoid Setup Waste and Reduce the Cost of your Adhesive Part Video

Why Do You Have Setup Waste?

It’s impossible to prevent setup waste entirely.

Setup waste is more than the edges of the material we don’t use; it includes rolls of material processed while the machine press is starting, stopping, or undergoing testing to ensure your tolerances are met.

Similarly, complex products can require what’s known as donor materials to support or guide the main body in a particular direction. These materials also become waste in the production process.

Even though you can’t avoid setup waste entirely, various preventable factors can reduce the amount of waste, saving you money.

3 Ways to Avoid Setup Waste

Waste disposal is expensive, so it’s in your and your converter’s best interests to reduce it as much as possible.

Here are three preemptive measures you’ll want to consider before starting production: 

#1: Choose Simple Materials

The simpler it is to cut a material, the fewer defects you’ll encounter.

Adhesive options like foam, elastic, or hydrogel can be more challenging to process, generating more material waste. These flexible and difficult-to-cut materials cost more in waste because they require more testing before running on the press. 

Using a complex material costs more because the die cut testing takes longer to fine-tune, generating more waste in the process. 

Examples of potentially complex materials are:

  • Extremely elastic materials
  • Abrasive materials
  • Extremely compressible materials
  • Unsupported materials (without a liner)
  • Extremely thin materials

You’re probably wondering, what if I have to choose a complex material?

As much as we’d all like to believe duct tape fixes everything, I highly doubt it would work as dressing on an open wound. Sometimes, complex materials work perfectly in the adhesive we need. 

If you’re planning on using a more complex material in converting, know that the cost might be higher than what you expect because of setup waste.

Lastly, if you’re supplying your own material, know that you’ll need to factor in the percentage of waste. This means you’ll need to consult your converter on the amount they need to build you the correct number of units. 

#2: Effective Part Design

checking for effective part design

An ineffective part design can also cause you to waste more material due to defective products.

Challenging part designs with multiple layers or tighter design tolerances generate more waste due to an increased number of faulty parts. Those parts might require multiple dies and longer press times for setups and testing.

When preparing for the die cut part design phase, you want to refine your design as much as possible so that your product is designed for manufacturability.

Instead of marrying that first design, ask your adhesive converter to perform a flexible material consultation and help determine the specs for a less expensive, easier-to-build product. 

#3: Longer Run Times

Setting up a rotary machine press for the first time takes a certain level of trial and error.

Before a job begins, converters run material through to ensure that the parts come out correctly. Starting and stopping the machines more frequently results in a higher overall cost, and jobs with longer machine run times, testing material is a lesser percentage of total material cost.

You might think, I don’t handle the planning. My adhesive converter pencils my project into their schedule. How do I ensure they give me a longer run time?

Although the machine run time largely depends on the converter, methods such as placing blanket orders can facilitate longer run times.

Blanket orders come with benefits such as your converter to schedule your projects far in advance and plan longer run times to avoid high setup costs. Placing orders further ahead of time and buying in bulk also improves the feasibility of less waste and longer run times.

Is The Cost of Setup Waste for an Adhesive Part Worth it?

Setup waste isn’t unique to Strouse: Every adhesive converter struggles with setup waste.

Material waste costs money. If you’re thinking of it realistically, as a necessary component of using a die cut rotary press, the best thing you can do is follow those three tips to avoid waste as much as possible.  

Taking the suggested steps to simplify your part design and placing your orders well in advance will allow you to actively shorten lead times and reduce the cost of production. 

Don’t get so caught up in specific components making up the cost of a die cut that you forget the many other factors playing into it. Instead, consider which next step is best for you when working with an adhesive converter, and contact us if you have any questions:

Contact Us


Lee K. House

Copywriter & Content Creator for Strouse. Lee graduated from the University of Alabama in the Spring of 2022 with a double major in English and Spanish.