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How to Make Shoe Cutting Dies

Mass production of footwear requires cutting every type of shoe material. Shoe leather, fabric, foam, and reinforcing materials must all be cut into the shoe pattern shapes. While there are many new technologies for cutting shoe materials such as a laser, water jet, and CNC drag knife; the steel rule cutting die is still the most common for footwear production.

Shoe parts cutting dies

Photo of steel for cutting dies

Used to cut out shoe parts, these steel cutting dies and shoe sole cutters look just like cookie cutters. Each mould and dies is made of sharpened rule steel then coated with rust proof paint and marked with the shoe size and model number. Making a shoe requires hundreds of dies. One die for each part, for every size of a shoe. For high volume shoe production, the shoe factory may need many sets of cutting dies.

Making footwear cutting dies

The cutting die maker starts with the cut paper pattern templates of the shoe pattern. The worker will then bend the rule steel into shape using the paper pattern as a guide.

The worker uses a special bench that will help bend the metal. The bench has a foot-operated anvil that moves the tool head to make the bends. A skilled worker can make each cutting die outline in just a few minutes.

The final operations to make the shoe cutting dies include coating it with rust proof paint and a final check to make sure the cutting edge is very sharp. While there are many operations required to make shoe cuttings dies the production is fast, the materials and labor are relatively inexpensive. For small orders, a cutting die fee may be charged by the shoe factory, but usually, the cost of the cutting dies are accounted for the LOP (labor, overhead and profit) charges.

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