Everything to Know About Die Cut Boxes

die cut cardboard box being assembled

Here’s a fun piece of history for you – die cutting is the reason we have standardised shoe sizes. Before die cutting, shoe soles were cut by hand which was time-consuming, expensive and not always accurate. The ease of die cutting meant shoes could be made faster and more precisely, which in turn led to the standard shoe sizes we still use today.

In the packaging world, we use die cutting all the time. It’s an ideal method for manufacturing custom corrugated boxes. But what is die cutting? And what can you achieve with it? Here is everything you need to know about die cutting.

What is die cutting?

Die cutting is a manufacturing process which uses a pre-designed template to cut cardboard sheets into boxes. An easy way to picture it is to think of cookie cutting. The die is the name for the template (or cutter) that creates the shapes. The cardboard in this example would be the dough. Die cutting allows you to produce multiple boxes in a fast and precise manner – just like how you cut a batch of cookies.

Die cutting machines have many functions, but the two most commonly used for corrugated packaging are cutting and creasing. Cutting is when your cardboard sheet is cut through to create specific shapes or box flaps. Creasing is when the cardboard is pressed onto to create crisp fold lines, but not actually cut.

Die cutting can produce both stock and custom boxes. For stock boxes – you’re looking at standardised sizes and styles such as mailer boxes, toe tit, toe tie and folder boxes. For custom boxes – the options are endless. You could use a standardised die with custom printing to create branded boxes, or go all in with custom tooling on a unique size or shape for your box.

These days, many die cutters are developed with computer-assisted design (CAD). Here’s an example of our industrial designer Ian working with the CAD machine. He’s sending this one off to the sample table to check how it folds up before sharing the design with the customer for final approval.

The main benefit to die cutting is that it helps you produce large quantities of boxes quickly and precisely. Die cut boxes are also made for easy assembly. This makes them a popular choice in online retail since they are easy to pack, assemble and present well to your end customers.

Read our glossary of common packaging terms for more useful definitions and find plenty of great packaging advice on the blog.

Types of die-cut cardboard boxes

Die cutting is used all the time in packaging manufacturing. It’s so versatile that it would be near impossible to list all the ways it can be used. Instead, we’ll focus on a few popular die cut box options.

Online retail boxes

Mailer boxes are one of the most popular die cut box designs. They work perfectly for online retailers because they are both practical and pretty. They are easy to assemble; simply fold along the lines and tuck in the flaps. They are also strong enough to protect products during delivery so that they arrive safely with the customer.

ecommerce packaging cardboard box

Folder style boxes

Folder style boxes are quite similar to mailer boxes, with the main difference being that they are flatter. They are designed for long, thin or flat items such as sports equipment, printed materials, books, mirrors and more.

Partitions and dividers

Die cut inserts are the perfect option for fragile products and for presentation purposes. From beverage dividers that keep glass bottles separate to cut out inserts that display your product, die cutting is a real winner when it comes to internal box design.

POS displays

POS displays are a great example of creative die cutting at work. It can be used to create anything from a shelving stand to a custom cardboard structure.

Gift and presentation boxes

Die cutting is a great option for creating cost-effective gift boxes. By creating die cut windows to your product, you can make the items inside the star of the show – rather than the box.


Is die cutting expensive?

We would say that die cutting is an investment, rather than being expensive. Creating a custom die cutter comes with design and tooling costs. This makes it more expensive than working with either a standardised die or another type of box, like an RSC. The good news is – once you have your die assembled, you can manufacture boxes with it forever. So, it’s a question of whether you feel custom design is worth the investment.

It’s important to us at Echo Cartons to provide cost-effective solutions for every business. If you have a budget that you’re keen to stick to, we’ll be happy to help you with creative solutions that still allow for the best boxes.

Recycling and die cut boxes

The die cutting process comes with a lot of offcuts. But, they never go to waste. Many manufacturers, including Echo Cartons, make it a priority to recycle the offcuts. We partner with a recycling company who take our offcuts and turn them into new cardboard sheets – ready to be manufactured again. Learn more in our recycled packaging blog.

Request a quote from the die-cut specialists

Echo Cartons is a family-run business who have built a strong reputation for friendly customer service and great quality boxes. With a factory in Braeside, Melbourne – we’re the box manufacturer of choice for a wide range of Australian SMEs. Whether you’re seeking die cut packaging or regular shipping boxes, it all starts when you request a quote.

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