Die Cutting - Advice?

Hi all, i just spent a good hour reading letterpress horror stories - and cringed at the story of mice chewing rollers…..
I teach and print letterpress at the as220 community printshop, and i am really into getting die-cutting in the shop. I believe i can order die-cut dies from owosso, but does anyone have advice about printing them on a vandercook? I am assuming i take out both sets of rollers, is there some kind of rubber blanket to protect the cylinder?
we have a 4T Vandercook proof press.
-also if i have access to a laser-cutter, could i make my own die?
thanks! (and check us out…. http://www.as220.org/printshop )

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I was not aware that Owosso would make die-cutting dies. I think they may make thermal dies for die-cutting vinyl with heat, but I don’t believe they make steel rule dies for cutting paper materials.

That would be the first necessity — getting a steel rule die made. Take a look in your local (or nearby metropolitan area) yellow pages for steel rule diemakers. They generally are quite reasonable in price. For the Vandercook, you would want to specify cutting rule to be .918” high.

You certainly can do die-cutting on the Vandercook. Our company has three Universal III Vandercooks used just for kiss-cutting aluminum and plastic labels. You would have to remove the rollers and would need to cover the cylinder with a standard die-cutting jacket to protect the cylinder from scoring. The jackets are made of steel sheet, bent to fit the cylinder and punched for gripper bar bolts The tail is generally canvas or plasticized fabric which can be reeled on the tympan reel.

Have to side with jhenry on this one. I have used owasso’s magnesium etched dies with a teflon type coating for kisscutting with heat on vinyl. (static cling) You need to be soooo careful with these though. Magnesium is the softest of the die metals and dings or crushes very easily, especially when hot. They are best used for multiple up or very intricate designs where bending rule is just not cost effective or even possble. We here in milwaukee are blessed with several die shops so shopping out of town is not needed. IE: Have never needed to order a rule die from owasso. If they don’t do them, they could prob send you in the right direction. As far as ruling your own die, it is very tedious and requires a minimum of, a supply of ejection rubber, some die board,( very diff than reg plywood), an end cutting jig, a notching jig, a bending jig with a full assortment of radius dies, assorted hand tools and a very smooth running grinder with one inch wide wheel of fine grit. No small venture financially. You will prob want a production jacket and then one just for die cutting. My experience is with heid cyliders and kluge platens, but, if you can apply pressure without hurting the press, you can cut. Cylinders provide good pressure for die cutting as only a small portion of the die is cutting at any one time, as compared to a flat bed press with cuts all at once. Good Luck! PS: cutting rule is perty sharp……

Thanks! glad to hear the vandercook is great for die cutting, and i will look into local dies.
any pointers towards where to order the metal tympan sheet?

I think NA Graphics can supply you with the proper diecutting jacket if you are currently purchasing supplies from them. Otherwise, there are several manufacturers and resellers of diecutting jackets you might find on the internet I hesitate to recommend sources I have not used.