The Foil Stamping Printing Process

Foil stamping has been popular recently — for everything from business cards to wedding invitations.

The Foil Stamping Printing Process

 Foil stamping has been popular recently — for everything from business cards to wedding invitations.

An Exclusive Embellishment

Foil stamping isn’t new. It has been used for hundreds of years, mainly to create gilded book covers.

It began as a painstaking process using hand-set lettering or the creation of custom-made dies. A press was used to apply pressure that imprinted a thin layer of metallic foil in the shape of the lettering or die. The foil was hand-beaten in small pieces using real gold or other metals.

The labor-intensive process, along with the costly metallic foil, kept foil stamping out of reach for all but the wealthy.

Foil stamping retains some of this prestige today. Although, luckily, technological advances have made it more accessible and affordable.

The Modernization of Foil Stamping

In the late nineteenth century, the development of hot-stamping modernized foil application. Hot-stamping uses heat, as well as pressure, to apply the foil.

A few decades later, the foil itself was modernized. Rather than using hand-beaten gold leaf, a process was developed to atomize gold and apply it to sheets of thin polyester film. Rolls are then made of the film. These rolls are run through specialized print finishing machines that apply heat and pressure.

The Foil Stamping Process Today

The basics of foil stamping have not changed much since the modernization of the process. At Embossing Plus, we have several machines for foil application. We can accommodate large and small formats and any size print run.

Today, new machines, like our JETvarnish 3D Evolution, can apply foil in a wholly digital process. This cutting-edge machine does not require custom dies, reducing cost and turnaround time.

Best Ways to Use Foil Stamping

Foil stamping adds elegance to any design, especially when used with other embellishments. Using foil stamping with embossing can create sculptural elements in your design. Debossing can create a recessed three-dimensional effect that can imitate letterpress style. Variable data printing in foil allows up to personalize each piece.

There are also some limitations to how foil stamping can be used. Consider the color of the paper or substrate you’re using and try to create contrast. For example, a silver foil will reflect light, making it hard to read on white paper. Foil stamping also cannot be used for very fine lines, so hairline elements, delicate script, or tiny fonts are not recommended.


Learn more tips and tricks for using foil in your designs. Or contact us to learn more about how to incorporate foil stamping in your designs. 







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