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What is a Clicker Press?

By Dan Blacharski
Updated May 17, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By StarJo — On Jun 07, 2012

So that’s how shoes are made! I always kind of wondered how shoes were shaped.

I didn’t know if they were sculpted by hand or not, but I figured that some sort of machine must be involved in some way. When you have brands that manufacture thousands of the same shoe, there would have to be a certain setting on a machine to make them all identical.

I suppose that different parts are cut with the clicker press and then they are fitted together somehow. It makes sense that something with so many curves would have to be made in parts and pieced together later.

By OeKc05 — On Jun 06, 2012

I imagine that mousepads are made with a clicker press, too. They have a rectangular shape with curved edges, and their design is so exact that it would have to be cut using some sort of machine.

I have a rubber frisbee that most likely was cut with a clicker press. I got the frisbee for my dog, because he was having a hard time picking up the hard plastic one. It’s so flexible that it seems like something that would fall into the category of soft materials.

I never put much thought into how these things were made. I guess I just pictured a huge machine spitting liquid rubber into a mold. I never knew a clicker press existed before reading this article.

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