Circle Dies - or the Joys of CNC Machining

I’ve been wanting to make metal dies that I can use to cut designs out of paper using a Sizzix Big Kick die cutting machine pictured below.

The Big Kick is essentially just two rollers that you push a sheet of paper with a cutting die sandwiched between two plastic sheets through. The rollers pinch the paper and cutting die together and you end up with a piece removed from the paper.

The cutting dies are essentially flat sheets of metal with a small sharp raised edge that cuts the paper.

I thought I’d start small and reproduce an exisiting circle die like the one seen below.

These dies are really thin as you can see from the caliper readings so I decided to incorporate one of the 1/8" plastic sheets into the die design.

So with a little bit of Fusion 360 magic and some CAM path puzzling I finally arrived at

So now it is off to the VHS Taig CNC mill to do some machining.

Some photos from the milling.

I used a second piece of aluminum as a waste board.

After milling.

Four small tabs hold the part to the original stock. The end bits are easily removed by bending and breaking the tabs by hand. The tabs were ground off a sander and hand filed smooth.

A preliminary test shows that die does work!

There are definitely some improvements that I will make for version 2.

The center will be machined all the way through the material to allow easier removal of paper after cutting.

For some reason I was having some problems cutting the chamfer on the edge of the circle so the edge was not as sharp as I wanted.

This circle die is a test to work out the process.

My goal is to be able to die cut complex designs that range up to 5"x7".

Die cutting is fast, simple and does not have any issues with the burnt edges that you would get with laser cutting.

All in all not bad for a first attempt.



For the edge to last, you would need to migrate to steel and away from
aluminium. Great work on the first off though!

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Nice that tabs feature looks like it works pretty well. You should give a ball nose endmill a try to give the cutting edge a cusp.

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