6 min read

Die Cut vs. Kiss Cut: What's the difference?

By Scott Chambers on Jul 19, 2022 8:59:49 AM

An adhesive enters a die and comes out kiss cut

People are often confused about die cuts and kiss cuts, but what's the difference?

Kiss cutting is its own cutting style and is often integrated into the die cutting process.

The application of kiss cuts occurs when the sharp edge or blade penetrates a material's surface but stops at the top of another one. The most straightforward example is a sticker with a liner on the back. The blade went through the sticker but stopped at the liner to make the outside shape.

Examples of kiss cutting products range from sticker sheets to industrial signs.

On the other hand, die cutting is punching specific shapes from sheets of raw material as it runs through the factory press. It could be a kiss cut or a through cut (also called metal-to-metal cut).

The difference between kiss cuts and die cuts is simple:

Kiss cuts:

  1. The blade never passes all the way through

  2. A technique used in die cutting

Die cuts:

  1. The blade can pass all the way through

  2. Often a combination of regular and kiss cuts

Depending on the pressure between the die and the material underneath, you can create a setup where the die's sharp edges only penetrate to a certain depth.

The slicing depth can be calculated to the millimeter; therefore, it's possible only to remove the top layer of material and leave behind a specific shape attached to the backing.

A finished product with its main body attached to the liner would result from the combined process of kiss cutting and die cutting.

Kiss cuts can be a valuable tool for any die cutting project, especially through direct application on the rotary die press.

As the material is sent through the press at a quick and efficient pace, the die rotates with the exact level of pressure to achieve the finished product.  

One side effect of a rotating die, in this case, is the formation of the excess waste left over from the layer that was kiss cut away. Yet, thanks to the continuous motion of the rotary die press; the waste is pulled in a different direction to boost the project's efficiency ultimately.

When used in tandem with die cutting, mainly rotary, kiss cutting can consolidate the steps of an otherwise tedious process.

However, rotary isn't the only type of die cutting that incorporates the use of kiss cuts.

laser kiss cutting

Although they're often paired with rotary die cutting, kiss cuts can also be made through laser cutting.

Laser kiss cutting uses a weakened laser to make shallow cuts in a material. Because the laser's actual power is adjustable, its beam's strength can be lowered, so it doesn't cut all the way through.

Depending on the project, however, a laser might not be the ideal tool to use in certain situations due to its unique drawbacks.

For starters, using a laser involves searing off material, which may have dire consequences for certain adhesive materials (i.e., liquifying them).

The searing of a laser may leave behind char or residue, and its bright beam renders it incompatible for specific light-sensitive projects.

Even so, rotary and laser die cutting are popular options for creating kiss cuts due to their unique benefits.


While kiss cutting can be an excellent die cutting method to boost project efficiency, it will not be simple for every project or material.

If done incorrectly, kiss cutting might render products imperfect or even unusable.

Kiss cutting requires close monitoring so that each cut is made precisely.

If the kiss cut is too shallow, which may be difficult to spot initially, the product might not work. However, if the cut is too deep, the adhesive can make its way into the gap and cause problems between the material and its backing.

In addition, defective kiss cutting may create imperfect rolls that are sloppy in the placement of their parts due to shifting during the delivery process.

These imperfect rolls also risk possessing inconsistent tension, which might hinder any automation the product needs to undergo.

We know it can be challenging to know which cutting methods to use. Let us know if you have any questions, and we can help start your next project today.

Scott Chambers

Written by Scott Chambers

As the VP of Marketing for Strouse, Scott oversees the content creation team and drives demand to the sales team. Scott graduated from Coastal Carolina with a degree in Business Management. He then attended the University of Baltimore School of Law, earned his JD, and passed the bar in 2016. In addition to marketing and business development, Scott serves as Strouse's In House Counsel. Scott is currently earning an MBA from Indiana University.

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