Understanding Tolerances on Die Cut and Slit Materials

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Before sending materials into production, it’s important that companies be aware of the tolerances of the technology they’re using. Die cutting and slitting are both advanced production technologies that are designed to produce simple components and products. Tight tolerances might be critical in some cases and not as important in others. Tolerances impact the precision of each item over the course of the run.

Die Cutting and Tolerances

There are three primary methods of die cutting which are used at Tom brown, Inc.: flat bed, rotary, and water jet Each of these have different applications. Flat bed die cutting is primarily used for moderately sized and small runs. It’s a very cost-effective, fast, and simple method of die cutting, with the ability to process materials of varying thicknesses up to about 1/8”. The die tolerance itself is +- 0.005” but there are some products (particularly PVC foams) which may shrink slightly after the cutting operation. Rotary die cutting is a high precision method of producing high volume runs. Rotary die cutting has higher costs but is a much faster process. Rotary die cutting can hold a tolerance of +/- 0.005” or better. Finally, water jet cutting is a method of cutting using a CNC interface that is primarily used for customization, rapid prototyping, and smaller runs. Water jet cutting is slower but is very useful for cutting very thick materials or very large format materials. This method can hold a tolerance of +/- 0.010”

Slitting and Tolerances

The process of slitting can be used in preparing materials for die-cutting or as a standalone process. Slitting is often done for films, foams, tapes, textiles, and other thin materials. As with die cutting, there are multiple methods of slitting. The two major methods of slitting at Tom brown, Inc. are log slitting and rewind slitting . Log slitting can process wider rolls and is generally used as a one step standalone slitting process. This slitting method can hodl +/-1/32” and can even hold tighter tolerances with some materials. Rewind slitting is usually used in preparation for die cutting and will both slit the materials and rewind them. This slitting method can hpld +/1/32”.


Die cutting is the process of essentially cutting various materials into discrete parts or kiss cutting the parts against a release liner or carrier to form the component. It is used to create many products such as gaskets and tapes. Slitting, on the other hand, is used to produce roll goods. Both of these processes can be used together to fabricate parts to meet the manufacturer’s end use requirements. Consultation with a professional converter can help you determine which processes are best for your product. Tom Brown, Inc. offers comprehensive die cutting and slitting services. Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today to get a quote on your next converted product.
Rick Alexander

About the Author

Rick Alexander is the National Sales Manager for Tom Brown, Inc. His early experience was in R&D, product management, and sales management for both Main Tape and Adhesives Research, Inc. Rick brings over 40 years of pressure-sensitive tape experience and Tom Brown’s world class converting capabilities to help solve customer bonding, assembly, and sealing challenges.