Almost every home has something in it that was produced by a clicker press. A clicker press is a machine that cuts shapes out of rolls of soft material, such as rubber, cardboard, or leather, using a sharp metal piece called a die. A click press is often used to manufacture parts for shoes, wallets, and virtually any other type of cut product that is made from sheets of flexible material.
The process of using a clicker press to cut these materials is called die cutting. Think of it in terms of making cookies. When you roll out cookie dough and then press the cookie cutter into it, you are producing cookies using a die cutting process. The cookie dough being the soft, raw material, and the cookie cutter functions as the die.
The process of manufacturing by using a clicker press has been around since the 1800s, when shoe manufacturers created hand held dies to cut out leather shoe parts. Machines were soon invented to automate the process so that multiple cuts could be made simultaneously.
The first die cutting machines simply consisted of a manual process where the material was placed on a wooden block. A die with a handle would then be placed on top of it. The operator would hit the top of the die with a hammer to force the steel die into the material and make the cut. Today, the clicker press is an integral part of the manufacturing process and is used in many different applications from making circuit boards to playing cards.
Die cutting is both a manufacturing science and a craft. Diemakers often have their own individual tricks of the trade they use to create the best dies for each specific application. The thickness and firmness of the material will determine which type of clicker press to use, as well as which type of cutting die to manufacture. Soft or soft or springy materials will require a different technique while being diecut. Depending on the material, the clicker press will include either a hardened steel plate, or a softer cutting surface such as polypropylene, onto which the material is laid and the die is applied to cut the desired shapes.
The press itself is easy to operate. The clicker die is usually placed by hand onto the material. Different types of cutting dies are best suited to different types of materials, and to a degree, diemaking and diecutting is a craft that requires some degree of trial and error to master.