Cutting Fabrics... laser, water & die cutting +other opt


Let’s talk about textile treatments… especially cutting.

Laser cutting (and engraving/etching/burning) is getting huge. I hear Nylon works well here as it’s self-sealing. Nike has been exploiting laser technology in their acutely named “Lasers”… and there’s all those leathers being laser cut in Italy…

Water jet cutting - although I don’t know anything about this. Who knows what happens when you cut cotton and jersey fabrics?

And how does die cutting fabric work?

Does anyone know of a textile research website / blog for these types of techniques?

Steel rule die cutting is the same regardless of the material. Go see the offset press people and maybe get a tour of their die-cutting ops.

Laser cutting will depend on the material and the type of laser. Althought vinyl or PVC will laser cut, most places with a CO2 laser will not do it because of the toxic gases generated. Polyesters will be okay as are most natural organics like cellulose, plywood etc. Because YAG lasers can cut metals, they cost much more and are likely overkill for most thin organic materials.

Jet cutting is also overkill.

Check out Blackman and White… they make CNC fabric cutters.


I’ve only seen water jet cutting on leather, but I’m sure it can be used on fabric - the factory I saw using it was making small pairages of many different designs - its not worth making cutting dies unless you are making about a 1000 pairs as you won’t make your tooling up costs back (called amortisation).

Die cutting fabric works the same as for leather and uses the same press. The dies look a bit like pastry cutters and are placed by hand on top of the material you want to cut then the press is operated by the worker by using a foot pedal.