12 min read

The Cost of a Die Cut

By Lee K. House on Nov 29, 2022 3:38:40 PM

What is the cost of a die cut adhesive

“Hi, I’d like to order 1,000 custom die cut pieces.”

“Great! That’ll be $5,000.” 

In a perfect world, ordering from a convertor would take no effort at all.

As we all know, it isn’t this simple to order custom parts. But wouldn’t it be easier if you knew how the pricing worked?

We’d love to go ahead and answer any questions you may have about the cost of die cutting and how it depends on materials, configuration options, and machine time.

Die Cut Adhesive Price Range

Converters are often requested to provide an average cost or a budget price. 

Unfortunately, there are so many elements in converting quotes that each estimate will look different than the last!

These are entirely custom parts, so we’ll focus on how your die cut needs determine the final price:

  1. Tooling cost
  2. Cost of materials
  3. Machine run time/Labor cost

On the surface, it doesn’t look complicated, but our estimators can confirm that each category has several price points and details to iron out. 

Let’s break it down.

Level of Cost Impact

 

Tooling Cost

Material Cost

Labor Cost

Part Geometry

  - Geometric shape/size

  - Functional features (such as tabs)

  - #/size of Features

  - Feature proximity

  - Construction/Complexity of Layers

     

Type of Material(s)

  - Composition

  - Material Extensibility

  - Material Thickness

  - Material Density

     

Dimensional/Tolerance Requirements

  - Loose vs. Tight tolerance

  - Type of inspection

  - Inspection Frequency

     

Production Volume

     

Packaging Format

  - Rolls, sheeted, etc.

  - Bags, Boxes, Pouches, Kitting, etc.

  - Level of Packaging Automation

     



 

Major Impact

 

Minor Impact

 

Negligible Impact

 

Tooling, material, and labor cost are all essential to running production.

While the same factors influence these higher costs, they’re affected to different degrees. 

For example, a larger Production Volume allows you to buy in bulk, making the Material Cost cheaper.

Therefore, Production Volume is categorized as having a major impact on material cost.

On the other hand, the Tooling Cost stays the same throughout a job, so the impact that Production Volume has on it is negligible.

You’ll see each of these factors as we go through the three major price points to determine how you end up with a quote.   

TOOLING COST

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “Don’t you already own the machines?”

Tooling Cost is more complicated than owning a magical machine press that can spit out any die cut (though, if you find one, make sure to tell us). 

Almost every job requires its own unique die to cut the pieces for your desired part.

Think about cutting dough with a cookie cutter: You can’t use a star-shaped tool to make gingerbread men.

Regarding tooling cost, the actual material you use matters less than the design. Die with simple designs cost less than multi-layered, multi-material tools with various holes or slits. 

Let’s say you needed two parts of the same geometrical shape and size, but one needed to be thicker or entirely made from a different material. You might have to find an additional die to cut each layer, increasing your tooling cost. 

One way to cut tooling costs is by using a laser. A laser doesn’t require extra parts to function: It’s just a laser. 

Laser cutting is highly accurate, and instead of a die, you can use it to achieve tighter tolerances.

However, you should still check and make sure that laser die cutting is a viable option for the material you’re using. 

The number of layers and the complexity of the part you’re building are both traits of Part Geometry. 

Part Geometry encompasses a part's size, shape, functional features, layers, and design intricacies. 

Configuration options are parts or processes that converters can apply to a die cut press. Depending on the type of part you order or the material you plan on using, you might ask for more advanced processing methods. 

Advanced processing methods for configuration options might include extra layers of lamination, using multiple materials, multiple colors, or tighter tolerances. 

Configuration options can add up over time, and if you’re trying to save money, you might want the most straightforward die cut configuration possible.

The simplest tooling set-up for rotary die cutting consists of one die and one material

COST OF MATERIALS

The material cost is a massive part of the final pricing, so it’s essential to use converters who source your materials most efficiently. 

Material costs make up about 70-80% of total costs. For some applications and startups, this is an enormous financial burden.

Because we build custom parts, it doesn’t make sense to stock up on every adhesive tape we can. As a result, we’re forced to work around suppliers’ Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ), which determines the amount of product we have to buy for them to sell.

Suppliers generally have a minimum order quantity because their adhesive rolls are pre-made in 48-, 54-, or 60-inch standard lengths. The MOQ is in their best interest to minimize their set-up times. There are fixed costs associated with firing up machines, so they have to make it worth their while.

Early in the product lifecycle, the MOQ is more than what we need to build your order. In these cases, we either factor it into the total material cost or use a smaller distributor at a higher price point.

Die cutting a roll of material creates waste, but you might not realize how quickly the waste adds up.

Every stage of production generates waste.

For example:

  1. Set-up tests
  2. Mining tape is used to help peel adhesive layers
  3. Leftover material from production 

Each production stage contributes to the overall material waste. Yet, although material waste is inevitable, we still want to reduce it as much as possible. 

MORE WASTE = LESS VALUE for your dollar, and we want to help you get as many high-quality parts as possible.

Finally, the type of material you ask for could increase your final price because it requires more advanced processing methods. 

Certain materials, like light-sensitive or fully sterile materials, require additional set-up. Multiple or hard-to-cut thick materials might boost the tooling cost for your part. 

If you’re concerned about the price of the suggested material, ask if there are alternatives that fit your specifications.

Labor Time

Labor time costs include machine set-up, testing, production/run time, and breakdown.

Complex parts are challenging to make, and it’s much harder to set up the machine press for them. 

Even though a simple job might only take an hour to prep, a complicated top-tier job could take up to 18 hours in press assembly. 

Because harder set-ups take a long time to complete, they’re valued based on how much labor goes into them. One job might only need a flatbed press, whereas another may have three rotary dies and a laser to assemble.

After 36 years in the converting industry, we can confidently determine how long it will take to assemble the press so we can get your project up and running. 

This set-up and assembly process falls under the cost of labor time, and it’s determined based on how complex the Part Geometry is and the Production Volume because it determines the amount of time the die cut press is running.

PRICE PER PART (PPP)The cost of the die cut part being processed

Certain costs are built into our die cut production.

You can divide the production process into four primary stages:

  1. Set-up 
  2. Testing
  3. Run time
  4. Breakdown

Three of these stages require very hands-on labor from our experienced operators, which is why we have fixed costs for the time spent on machine set-up, testing, and breakdown.

Labor time often makes up a large portion of the final estimate, and for some, it might even be a decisive price point. Yet, it’s worth noting that this is standard for converting. 

The Price Per Part (PPP) mainly depends on set-up costs and the number of units ordered. 

The more parts we produce, the more you benefit from your initial set-up cost. 

For example, labor for set-up, testing, and breakdown (fixed costs) is 5 hours, and you want quotes for 1,000, 10,000, and 100,000 parts. 

If 1,000 parts take 30 minutes, our run times are 30 minutes, 5 hours, and 50 hours.

Total production hours are 5.5, 10, and 55 hours respectively. The difference in price per part becomes clear when we divide the number of parts by total hours to get parts per hour, which are 181.82, 1,000, and 1,818.18 parts per hour. 

As a result, the 100,000-part quote will have a much lower PPP than the 1,000-part quote.  

The fixed costs and flexible costs of a die cut

Converters often calculate the price per part on a scale of thousands, meaning they might give you the price per thousand parts rather than the exact PPP. 

The packaging style of your part affects the calculation of your quote based on the number of parts per bag or kit. Bags might have thousands of parts per bag, and a kit has multiple parts, with up to hundreds of each part per kit.

If your parts are divided into bags or kits, it could change the way your pricing is formatted. The chart demonstrates a breakdown of how different packaging styles can affect the pricing layout of your quote. 

Suppose 100 paint masking kits cost $100 each. We know that 100 kits cost $10,000 in total.

If every kit has 1,000 parts, we can deduce that 100 kits hold 1,000,000 parts. By taking the total cost and dividing it by the total number of parts, we end up with a value of $0.01 per part.

This is illustrated in the chart below:

100 kits cost $100 each

1,000 parts per kit

1,000 parts x 100 kits = 1,000,000 parts

100 kits x $100 = $10,000

$10,000/1,000,000 parts = $0.01 per part

The final cost is 1 cent per part

 

Your parts only cost one cent each, but because they’re packaged into hundred-dollar kits, the price per part may appear high at first glance. 

Again, producing more parts will offset production costs.

Larger orders have a lower price per part because the number of parts eventually outweighs the labor cost.

What You Should Know Before Ordering

Simplifying the quote process benefits everyone involved. You may be wondering, what can I do to advance my operation?

Generally speaking, the more information you provide about what type of product or service you’re looking for, the faster we can get it in your hands.

SOURCING MATERIALS

Sourcing materials has become one of the lengthiest tasks for a converting team, and it takes place before the start of the project. 

Here’s what slows the process down:

WE DON’T WAREHOUSE MATERIALS THAT AREN’T ALREADY SOLD.

After over 36 years of converting, the number of different materials we’ve worked with has been tens of thousands. 

As a result, the materials we use must be delivered to us first. Material lead times can vary from 2 days to 6 months. 

Your quote will say how long it should remain valid, but due to the ever-changing cost of materials, the sooner you respond, the more accurate your estimate will be. 

GETTING A QUOTE

Before you get a quote, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and the information you can provide so you can improve the process.

One question triumphs above all others during a convertor’s initial valuation: Do we have the capabilities to do this?

If you’re asking your converter to help you choose a material, they will need to know what the part DOES first. 

Will it be exposed to high temperatures? How long will it last? 

Your project is so familiar that you might not think twice about these overarching questions. However, they’re a quick and simple way for us to get caught up on your design.

On the other hand, perhaps you already have a material in mind and want to make parts ASAP. 

Including a drawing or sketch of what you’re looking for (with labeled dimensions!) can help expedite the process. 

If you’re unsure about the drawing in question, start by submitting your sketch, and we’ll assist you with your diagram as best as we can.

THE RIGHT CONVERTER

Purchasing this scale can be an overwhelming task. 

That’s why we want to be sure that you have all the resources you need before you make a big decision. 

With all that’s been said, you’re now armed with the knowledge of how die cut costs accumulate, and you’re ready to ask for the quote you need!

We strongly believe you should use a converter who suits your project and remains attentive throughout pricing and production.

If you have any questions, contact us, and someone will follow up with you shortly. 

Lee K. House

Written by 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.

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