Cross Cut Paper ShreddersYou may have heard the term micro cut floating across the Web lately. It is a term that has been coined by many paper shredder manufacturers to describe their shredders that cut paper “even smaller” than other cross cut shredders. So what is all the hubbub about and do you really need a micro cut shredder or are you going to be just fine with a standard cross cut? I have a lot of experience with paper shredders (found here) and would like to share my thoughts on this topic.

The term cross cut is used to describe any shredder that cuts paper in a cross-hatch pattern. So is a micro cut still a cross cut? That is correct, a micro cut shredding pattern is still a cross cut, just on a smaller level. Today many people use cross cut to describe a Level 3 shredder and micro cut to describe a Level 4 shredder, but technically anything that is not a strip cut is a cross cut.

One reason many manufacturers are trying to push “micro cut” is because it is a way to get you to upgrade from your “old” shredder to a newer model with better technology. The thing many businesses and individuals don’t realize is that a micro cut isn’t for everyone. Here is the biggest difference between a Level 3 cross cut and a Level 4 micro cut:


  • Level 3 Cross Cut – This cut falls within a 3.9mm x 50mm range. This is very small and very difficult to piece back together.

  • Level 4 Micro Cut – This cut pattern falls within a 1.9mm x 15mm range. This is one of the smallest cutting patterns used by non-government / military organizations.

You can read more about the various cutting patterns and security levels by reading our Paper Shredder Guide here.

Both cutting patterns are FACTA and HIPAA compliant and are appropriate for shredding patient, customer and client data. So do you really need a micro cut pattern? I would say that most businesses will be fine with a Level 3 cross cut pattern. While the Level 3 pattern is a little bigger than Level 4, it is still small enough to provide enough security for most applications. If you feel the need for a little more security, there isn’t anything wrong with a Level 4 pattern.

So if you are buying a new shredder, there are a few things you will want to consider. The Level 3 pattern has less area to cut than a Level 4 pattern, which means you will have a decreased shredding capacity with a Level 4. A Level 3 shredder that can handle 10 sheets at a time will usually be about 6 sheets at a time with a Level 4. You will simply need to weigh in if you need the added security or the increased cutting capacity.

If you still have questions, concerns or need answers about cross cut and micro cut shredders, please feel free to call us at 1-800-543-5454. We have a lot of experience with paper shredders and should be able to help point you in the right direction. You can find our entire selection of paper shredders here.

Tags: , ,