Silicone vs. Metal Stamping Dies: A Comparison

An Overview


What is a stamping die?

Hot stamp dies carry graphics which are transferred via pressure to the surface of a product or component. Hot stamping dies can be made of silicone or metal. The choice of which type of stamping die to use will be dictated by requirements of your specific decoration project.

What types of hot stamp dies are there?

Stamping dies are frequently made of silicone (various formulations available) or metal (steel, brass or magnesium options available). Each option comes with its own set of benefits and considerations.

Silicone Dies

  • Flat, Contoured, Crowned, Multi-Level
  • Single or Dual Durometer
  • Photo-etched and Machine Engraved
  • Die Finishing
  • Traditional and Magnetic Mounting Formats

Metal Dies

  • Steel, Brass, Magnesium
  • Flat and Contoured
  • Die Finishing
  • Traditional and Magnetic Mounting Formats



Silicone or Metal: What type of die do I need?

When selecting a die material, use the following guideline:

Rigid substrate →Flexible, silicone die
Flexible substrate→ Rigid, metal die

This simple rule-of-thumb will guide you to the right general category of die. From there, a trusted die expert can help you identify the precise type of silicone or metal die that is best suited to the unique requirements of your project.


How do silicone and metal dies compare?

At a Glance:

Silcone Dies

  • High impact pigment, metalic, holographic or prismatic impact(from foil selection)
  • More cost-effective than steel or brass
  • Less pressure required
  • Better conformity to slight surface variations
  • No plastic deformation around artwork area

Metal Dies

  • High impact pigment, metalic, holographic or prismatic impact (from foil selection)
  • Embossed visual effect
  • Higher stamping speeds
  • Longer life
  • May cause plastic deformation

            Here is a much longer answer:

Rubber Dies Metal Dies
Materials Available Various for specific applications – high temperatures, quick heat recovery, & high strength Magnesium
Average Die Life Contoured – X
Flat – 2X
Magnesium – Y
Copper – 4Y
Brass – 18Y
Steel – 20Y+
Surface Variations (sinks) Will Compensate No Compensation for Sinks
Variation in Material Thickness Will Compensate No Compensation
Set-up Time Quick Process Lengthy Process
Pressure Requirements 350 lbs. Per sq. inch (HS)
500 lbs. Per sq. inch (HT)
1000 lbs. Per sq. inch
Temperature Requirements 100F > Metal
(approximately 300-400F)
100F < Rubber
(approximately 250-300F)
Dwell Time 50% > Metal 30% < Rubber
Decorative Finish Foil/Transfer lays on top of substrate Imbeds foil/transfer into surface
Price Initial Set-up/Mold Charge
Die Cost < Metal
No Set-up/Mold Charge
Magnesium – $
Copper – 2X $
Brass – 8X $
Steel – 10X $
*indicates preferred material
Polyamide (Nylon)
PVC – Plasticized
PVC – Rigid*
UV Coating
Epoxy / Epoxy Coating
Polyamide (Nylon)*
PVC – Plasticized
PVC – Rigid
UV Coating*
Epoxy / Epoxy Coating


What are key features to look for in a die manufacturer?

In addition to being able to provide you with expert advice on the type of silicone or metal die best suited to your unique application, a quality die supplier should provide:

Magnetic Quick-Change Dies
Time saving magnetic quick change dies can lead to up to 90x faster changeover speeds with up to 50% improvement in mounting accuracy

Precision Molds
Top die manufacturers should provide CNC machine engraved molds with crown or contoured surfaces to perfectly match part shapes/configurations.

Expert Tools – Eliminate Voids
Expertise on using texturing tool and raised dies to eliminate voids.

Large Capacity for Quick Die Turn Around
For example, United Silicone´s market-leading die capacity allows us to provide 1 to 3 day service on many die orders.


Would you like to know more?

Please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.