Maximize Your Investment: Quick Tips for Rotary Tooling Care & Handling

Posted on: April 26, 2023

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Rotary tooling is a significant investment for converters, and despite their rugged appearance, the sharp cutting edges and other surfaces on your tooling can be easily damaged if not handled properly. Something as simple as wearing a ring during handling or packing can lead to nicks in the cutting blades.  

Damage caused during handling can be costly, ultimately reducing the tool’s lifespan. Paying close attention to care and handling, as well as maintenance, will ensure you maximize your investment. 

Safe Handling

Converters can do many simple things to avoid the risk of damage to tooling. An easy first step is ensuring no jewelry is worn while handling a tool. If jewelry contacts the die, it can damage the sharp edge of the cutting blades. On a larger scale, using straps instead of eye-bolts to lift tools can eliminate the risk of the metal lifting bolt contacting the tool and damaging the blades — damage to the blades nearest the eye-bolt holes is very common.  During setup, utilize v-blocks to elevate the tool above the surface so no foreign objects or debris contact the tool or carry over into the die station. Careful alignment of the tool when loading into the die station will also reduce the risk of the assist roll contacting the blades, another common but avoidable cause of damage to a tool.

Avoid Unnecessary Wear and Damage

Once your tooling is loaded into the machine, there are many additional ways to optimize die life and avoid unnecessary wear or damage. First and foremost, ensure that the tool is running with the least amount of pressure needed to yield the perfect cut. Excessive pressure can wear a die prematurely. As the machine and its components warm up, the roll diameters will expand and exert more pressure naturally. To avoid this extra, unneeded pressure, release the pressure once the machine is warmed up and reset it back to the minimum needed to cut. Release pressure to the die when stopping the machine for a break or to make adjustments or changeouts, and reset when you’re ready to run again. 

For easy monitoring and consistent pressure application, invest in hydraulic pressure gauges to get an exact reading of the pressure being applied. Wilson pressure gauges are designed with large, easy-to-read gauges and can be easily fitted to the existing station. This small addition has big benefits: applying consistent minimum pressure to the tool will ensure the maximum tooling life. Any changes in required pressure will alert you to upcoming needs for resharpening or replacing. 

Safe and Effective Tooling Care

Tooling damage is often caused by accidental contact with a foreign object. It is critical to avoid leaving loose objects, such as razor blades and other tools, near the die station. Debris on the die or the bearers is another common cause of damage to the tooling.  Utilizing bearer wipers and keeping them lubricated will help prevent accumulation of dust and debris on the bearers as well as minimize the effects of friction and heat. Non-stick coating solutions, such as Wilson’s Die Slide, can help you avoid excessive build-up of adhesive on the die and reduce downtime for cleaning and the additional risk of damage.  

At the end of a run, cleaning and storing your tools properly is essential. Wipe down the die with a soft, lint-free cloth, removing any dust or debris, adhesive, or ink. Most tools will benefit from a light oil coating as a rust inhibitor. Once clean and protected, rewrap the tools in the packing materials they came in and store them back in their original shipping containers when possible. Avoid placing any loose items in the box with the tool. Items can shift and contact with the tool causing damage to the sharp cutting edges. For flexible dies, use the Wilson hanging bag to easily store the flex dies on a hanging rack.  

Quick Tips for Easy Care & Handling

Implementing easy, strategic handling and maintenance processes can make the most of your investment and maximize your tooling life. Wilson Manufacturing is dedicated to helping you optimize your converting process with both precision tooling and expert advice. Check out our handy Quick Tips list below for an overview of Care & Handling and product-specific tips. Connect with your Wilson representative with any additional questions. 


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Quick Tips for Rotary Tooling Care & Handling

All Products: Packing, Unpacking, and Storage

  • Avoid contact with the blades. No jewelry, razor blades, wrenches, etc.
  • When preparing to install the die, set it in v-blocks and elevate it from the prep surface to avoid contact with any foreign items or debris.
  • Use a hoist with straps for better control when moving the tool to reduce the risk of damage from the lifting bolts.
  • Wipe the tool with a clean, lint-free cloth – even small debris can cause damage to the blades.
  • Lightly oil before storing to inhibit rust. (CRC 3-36 works well – avoid using alcohol)
  • Store in the same packing materials as it was received in. Ensure all lids are secure.
  • Avoid exposing the tooling to moisture or extreme temperatures. Low humidity and using a rust inhibitor will reduce the risk, and rust can usually be removed using 3M™ Scotchbrite™, being careful to avoid the cutting blades.

Loading and Removing Tools from the Machine

  • Wrap the die with a protective covering.
  • Use a hoist with straps to move the tool to the machine.
  • Secure and align the journal blocks in the machine slots before lowering the die.
  • Double-check the assist roll alignment before lowering it.

While Running

  • Use well-lubricated bearer wipers.
  • Keep loose objects away from the press — including razor blades!
  • Set for minimum pressure — check for issues before increasing pressure.
  • Release pressure after warm-up or during breaks and then reset to minimum pressure.
  • Keep gears lubricated and in good condition.
  • Inspect the anvil for wear to the surface or gear.

Product-Specific Tips


  • Use bearer wipers.
  • Inspect the gear for wear or debris.
  • Inspect the body for grooves or imperfections.
  • Always use fully-hardened anvils for best performance.

Magnetic Cylinders & Flexible Cutting Dies

  • Clean the surface before every use: wipe with a clean, lint-free cloth in only one direction (R to L or L to R) across the mag and then along the bearer.
  • Inspect the cylinder for wear or unevenness and the condition of the gear. A clean, bare hand is often the best way to “feel” any imperfections on the surface.
  • Wipe the back of the flexible die with a clean, lint-free cloth before mounting onto the mag cylinder.
  • Use a die lifter to adjust the placement or remove the flexible plate from the magnetic cylinder.
  • Lightly coat the cylinder and plate with oil before storing (recommended: Corrosion Inhibitor such as CRC 3-36)
  • Store the tool in its original packing materials. Replace the flexible sheet dies in the rust-inhibiting bag before storing them in the hanging bag provided. 
  • Request a mag cylinder audit yearly to confirm all cylinder specs – contact your Wilson representative for more information.

Print Cylinders

  • When preparing to use the cylinders:
    • Inspect bearings for irregularities and keep them lubricated as needed.
    • Inspect the surface for cuts or damage that may affect the transfer of ink during printing.
    • Inspect the gear for wear or damage.
  • Store cylinders vertically.
  • Avoid scoring the surface when mounting or removing printing plates, as scrapes and cuts on the surface can affect the transfer of ink. Wilson’s HardCoat provides a harder surface that is more resistant to scratches and scores. 


  • Shims are provided with the tool and go on the side of the set screws to absorb any distortion from tightening.
  • Slots are precision machined, so it is not necessary to raise the blade height with plastic shims.


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