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What makes hot-foil printing so special?

By Steffen Andersen · 15. May 2020

Foils on printed products can be an easy way for you to make your packaging stand-out. Especially when using metallic foils where you can add a silvery or golden glow. It is one of the only methods where you can use “real” gold and silver colours in your design. It is especially used when going for a more luxurious look, so it could be the birthday card or a magazine. Hot-foil is a rather common printing technique so you can often get it on your products, no matter what you are looking for. In this article, we are going to go in detail with how it works and where the technique is mostly used. 

What is hot-foil printing?

So let’s start with getting the definition of hot-foil printing in order. Hot-foil printing can also be called hot-foil stamping or just foil printing. It is a printing technique that is used to create a special finish of the printing products, by applying metallic or pigmented foil to the surface. It can be used to create a variety of finishes such as matte, metallic, and glossy. 

How does the process work?

When it comes to making foil stamping there are two techniques to making the finish. The most used method is the traditional foil printing technique, but the second technique, digital foil printing is quickly growing, due to it’s lower cost than the traditional foil printing technique. But we will, of course, go through both processes. 

Traditional foil printing

To make the hot-foil the printing machines use a foiling die, which is a metal plate where the designed you want to have foiled on to the object have been etched in to via photo-etching. The die can be formed into almost all designs. The hot foil is then added to die and then heated up, and when it is hot enough. The die then is pressured onto the printing surface with the foil, which will make the foil stick and integrate it to the surface of the object. 

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The methods use one die for each colour, so if you want to use multiple colours with the hot-foil technique, then the technique needs to run several times and produce several dies. 

Digital foil printing

Digital foil printing is in terms of how the foil will look when done very similar to the traditional foil printing. The process works via the image being digital printing using special types of foil, that can be used for the surface. This means the digital foil printing technique does not need to make a die for each colours used when making the hot-foil.

The different types of foil

The type of foil used in the technique is what influences the finish of the surface you will get. The most used foil is metalized foil since the foil gives a shiny finish and can be used with silver and gold foils. Some of the other foils that are more commonly known are pigment foil and scratch-off foil. The pigment foil is both used on plastic and paper, it is normally what gives a texturized surface from glossy or matt surfaces. Scratch-off foil is mostly used for lottery tickets and passwords cards. The technique is just as the name implies, it makes a small surface that is easy to scratch off. 

What is mostly used for?

The foil printing technique is mostly used for gift cards, magazines, and business cards.  The technique can though be used on different materials, and it is not only used for printing on paper, but it is mostly used for printing on paper. Since it is a technique that gives a more luxurious finish it is often used with embossing the print. We also work with a couple of manufacturers who are able to make hot-foil printing on paper cups and ice cream cups. 

Content and Marketing Manager at Limepack

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