How to Make Shoe Cutting Dies
How shoe cutting dies are made
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.
Shoe parts cutting dies
Used to cut out shoe parts, these steel cutting dies look just like cookie cutters. Each die 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 a shoe cutting die
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.
Once the outline is made, the worker will add the shoe size marks to the edge with notches. The raw ends of the dies are then welded together. Afterwards, any bracing bars or plates are welded on. Pins for perforations are also added to the cutting dies. Once the die is fully assembled a worker will test it to make sure the cutting surface is aligned flat and level.
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.