How to…create and supply a cutter guide

January 25, 2012

in Prepress

Cutter guide for a type 0427 box, trays and platforms. For cutter guides of this complexity, you may want to take advantage of our cutter-guide and plain paper dummy service.


We are always happy to provide our clients with a cutter guide, which you can then use to position your artwork to, but if you want to supply a cutter guide with your artwork files then here are a few tips on how to set-up and supply the file.

  • The drawing must be vector lines only – pixels are not usable for cutter guides.
  • Create your guide as separate layer to your graphic files – either as a special colour or extra black.
  • Acceptable vector file formats are .ai, .eps, .dxf or .pdf
  • It is always a good idea to create your guide first and then position your graphic files to the guide, please ensure that the cutter guide is set to overprint and does not knock out of the graphics.
  • Crease lines should be identified by using dotted lines and cut lines should remain solid.
  • Glue tabs should be 15mm wide and remain image free, apart from standard 3mm bleed.
  • It may seem obvious but it is always a good idea to indicate your print face on the guide.
  • Although cutter guides can be complex, their file size should be relatively small.  If your guide is measured in MB’s rather than KB’s then it has probably not been set to vector.
  • Some guides may need to be adjusted to allow for paper tolerance.  For example, when extra thick board needs wider creases.  Always ensure the material spec is supplied with the guide.


For those who have not seen a cutting forme or a diecutting machine, it may help to give a quick overview of how they work.

Your cutter guide is used to rout a shape into a sheet of composite wood, approximately 25mm thick.  Metal rules are then placed into the grooves – for the cut shape,  sharp blades (or rules) are used and for creases,  blunt and slightly lower, rules are used.  This creates the ‘die’ or ‘forme’.  The die is then locked into a platform on a machine and each printed sheet is automatically pushed onto the die…not dissimilar to a pastry cutter being used to create pastry shapes – although with a lot more pressure.   The video clip shows a BOBST VISIONCUT 106 Autoplaten® diecutter running at over 8000 sheets per hour with automatic stripping.  At around 30 seconds you will see the wooden die being pushed down onto each sheet of paper.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: