Laser Cutting vs. Die-Cutting

Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, Panels

If you are in the nameplate business, you have probably heard the terms laser cutting or die-cutting before, but do you know when one cutting technology should be utilized over the other? Each method of cutting possesses its own set of advantages depending on the project.

Laser-cut, polyester overlay.

Laser-cut, polyester overlay.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is a form of cutting that utilizes a CO2 laser as a cost-effective alternative to steel rule die-cutting. Due to the narrowness of the laser beam, cutting with a laser can provide improved precision, and is a good choice to use for projects that require small and/or detailed cuts. The laser cuts all the way through the material, dropping out all internal cuts. Another benefit of laser cutting is the fact that the zone affected by heat is quite small compared to using die-cutting, which decreases the chance of the material warping where it is being cut.

Metal nameplate cut using a compound die.

Metal nameplate cut using a compound die.

Die-Cutting

Die-cutting requires die tooling which consists of cutting blades embedded in a wooden base surrounded by rubber cushions. Outside shapes and interior holes can then be die-cut in a single stroke. Hard tools (also known as Class A Tools) perform the same process; however they are made out of a harder steel and consist of both male and female tools. This results in a tighter tolerance and an extended tool life that can last millions of strikes before needing to be replaced. One area where die-cutting outperforms laser cutting is the quantity and speed at which it can cut materials. Since a die is able to cut multiple areas in a single stroke, it is able to perform at a much faster rate than a laser cutting machine.

While each form of cutting has its own list of pros and cons, ultimately the one you decide to go with depends on the specific product being cut. Always make sure to ask your manufacturer for their recommendation, and if cost is a factor be sure to take initial tooling charges into account when making your decision.


If you would like to learn more about Wilson-Hurd’s Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, Panels division and our printing and fabrication capabilities, please visit our website at www.wilsonhurd.com, or fill out and submit the form below:


Wilson-Hurd, founded in 1904, offers custom printing, fabricating, and electronic manufacturing services specializing in Electronic Control Products, Printed Electronics, POP Displays, Medical Contract Manufacturing, and Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, Panels.

4 Common Questions Answered About Nameplates & Dials, Overlays and Panels

nameplatesdials5333Selecting a supplier for your product identification requirements may be a challenge. There are many aspects to consider and questions that may arise in the process.  Below are some common questions and answers to assist you with the design and creation of your custom product identification .

1. What is the standard lead time for Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, Panels?

Wilson-Hurd’s standard lead time is 15 business days. For orders that need artwork approval, the order is given 12 business days, but it may be delayed depending on how quickly we receive approval. Orders requiring special material may have a longer lead time. Due to the custom nature of our orders, we highly recommend you contact one of our Business Development Representatives for a lead time specific to your order.

2. What materials does Wilson-Hurd offer?

We offer a wide variety of materials for our Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, and Panels, including polycarbonate, polyester, acrylic, vinyl, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, & cold-rolled steel. If there is a material you are interested in that we do not have listed please feel free to contact us.

3. What options are available for Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, Panels?

Wilson-Hurd is able to offer domed nameplates, embossing, debossing, selective texturing, colored LED windows, folding, forming, die cutting, laser cutting, and hard-coating. To see more options, please visit our Nameplates & Dials, Overlays, Panels Capabilities page.

4. What type of aluminum finishes does Wilson-Hurd offer?

We offer a wide variety of aluminum finishes including brushed, satin, brite, cosmetic brite, linen, and mill. We can do glossy, matte, or semi-gloss on any aluminum finish, and we are able to match the color of the finish to any custom color.

To view more questions and answers about our products, click here to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or if you have a question that we have not answered visit our Contact Us page.

A Look at Wilson-Hurd’s Metal & Plastic Printing & Fabrication Division: 86 Years in the Making

It’s incredible how much a company can change in 110 years, and while many things at Wilson-Hurd have changed, our goal to supply customers with quality products has always remained the same. In 1928, 24 years after Wilson-Hurd was founded, the company began to print and fabricate aluminum nameplates. Now 86 years later, Wilson-Hurd’s Metal & Plastic Printing & Fabrication division is still going strong.

Berlin, WI Plant

High Volume Manufacturing Plant – Berlin, WI

Our ISO certified Metal & Plastic division located in Berlin, Wisconsin offers a multitude of capabilities to provide customers with custom nameplates, dials, graphic overlays, fabricated panels & enclosures, and decorative trim. Product enhancements include embossing, selective texturing, colored LED windows, hard-coating, doming, and much more.  The list of our available materials has grown as well in 86 years to include:

  • Polycarbonate
  • Polyester
  • Acrylic
  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum
  • Stainless Steel
  • Brass
  • Cold-Rolled Steel

With so many customization options and possible combinations available, no two customer’s projects are ever the same.

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One of the great benefits of being in business for so many years is the continuing development of customer relationships. Wilson-Hurd has many customers from a variety of markets including industrial controls, flow controls, automotive and consumer electronics, some of which have been loyal customers for decades. We know these customers wouldn’t be sticking around if we weren’t doing something right. The quality of our products has been a huge priority from the very beginning, not only in our Printing & Fabrication division, but also in our POP, Electronic Control Product, and Medical Contract Manufacturing division. Vice President of Operations, Peter Dehne, expands on why customers keep coming back to Wilson-Hurd. “During my 13 years with Wilson-Hurd, I have been most impressed with our attention to the customer,” recalls Dehne. “In the challenging world of custom manufacturing, it can be difficult for a customer to find a reliable, consistent and responsive manufacturer. We pride ourselves in our willingness to address a situation with every resource at our disposal, making it as transparent to our customer as possible.” As a testament to Wilson-Hurd’s outstanding quality, Elster American Meter LLC recently informed us that we had produced almost 4.5 million parts for them with zero defects! That many parts with zero defects is an incredible feat, and we are more than happy to be able to make our customer’s production process that much easier.

While Wilson-Hurd has been a stable presence in the manufacturing world for many years, new and exciting technologies are being developed and we are always motivated to take on the next challenge. Wilson-Hurd today, is very different compared to the Wilson-Hurd of 1904. Can you imagine what the Wilson-Hurd of the future will be like? One thing we can promise is that whatever the project may be 100 years from now, it will still include the same Wilson-Hurd quality we provide today, as well as centuries’ worth of manufacturing experience to back it up.

For more information on Wilson-Hurd and our capabilities, visit our website at www.wilsonhurd.com, and contact us at 1.800.950.5013 or at sales@wilsonhurd.com.