A Guide To Quality Embossing And Foil-Stamping

Due to the many variables used in the embossing and foil-stamping processes, virtually every job is a custom one. Add to this the frequent occurrence of the uniformed buyer attempting to specify what is to be done and it becomes imperative that thorough and detailed communications be made to assure expected results.

the following information and illustrations provide a comprehensive communication device for those who are involved in embossing and foil-stamping.


The same basic criteria used in preparing art for printing also applies to the preparation of art for embossing and foil-stamping. High contrast black and white type and art, or line film is necessary. Designs having fine texture or detail can possibly have imitations, so preliminary consultation with an embossing or foil-stamping specialist is advised before preparing final art.

Overlays made by cutting out masking materials are advisable, with each overly representing a specific level of embossing or an area to be stamped.

Helpful is the use of a tissue overlay upon which is drawn the topography, or perceived levels and angles by a continuous line across the subject. Color-coding is also good, where each level of embossing or debossing is indicated by a different color on the overlay.

Line drawings are better on some applications but grey tones or color art are not acceptable. The one exception to this is when preparing material for full-dimensional sculpted dies. Then almost anything showing authenticity, detail, and correct angle of the subject can be used by the die-maker. Final drawings are sometimes necessary. The quality die-maker is an artist who can make his own interpretive tracings for the die from pots or sketches, or actual objects.



Without detailed instruction, the making of dies and correct presswork are not possible. Always consult with your suppliers on these processes before making final decisions on paper, foils, dies, or configurations. They will have spcific guidelines for you to follow to assure a successful job.


In selecting paper, the cost factor is nearly always less important than the consideration of its suitability to embossing and foil-stamping. Specific papers have been developed for these conversions and should be used to avoid risk of failure. The accompanying paper selection chart and the following text will be helpful in selecting the right paper.


Embossing (raising the image) or debossing (lowering the image) is the stretching and reshaping of the paper fibers with pressure and most of the time, heat. THis is accomplished by pressing the paper or other substrate between a female die and its molded, male counterpart on an embossing press.


A variety of embossing and/or debossing combinations are possible on multi-level designs. This can be accomplished on a single press run with a multi-level die.

To obtain all the crisp detail and texture in the design, the paper must be pressed completely into the die, or”bottomed out” so to speak. If not, poor quality is the result.

Papers best suited for embossing are the heavier, long-fibered cover weight sheets. Avoid lightweight, heavily coated, or varnished papers which crack easily when embossed.

paper textures can play an interesting role in embossing. By smoothing out a textured paper in the image area with the die, a pleasing contrast results. Conversely, the die-maker can enhance a design with texturing in the die when used on smooth paper. Adding more heat on press during embossing can alter the pare color and/or finish to create a striking effect on certain stocks. This is classed burnishing.

It is important to remember that the amount of depth obtained and degree of bevel possible in embossing is determined by the choice of stock.


This embossing and stamping guide is intended to further the knowledge of designers, printers and the graphic arts trade in general.

By illustrating these processes in a comprehensive manner, this guide also serves as a communication device in creating the distinctive image the client expects

Please call us for further information and assistance at the number above.


Unlike embossing, stamping compresses the paper fibers, covering it with any of a variety of foils. These foils can be metallic, opaque, patterned, tinting or pearlized in nature. Smooth papers are best for reflecting the qualities of oil. Avoid heavily inked or heavily coated sheets which are not porous enough for the foil to adhere properly. Plastic coatings and varnishes can prevent food foil transfer to the paper, causing blisters. Wax-free formulations of inks and varnishes are recommended for foil stamping. With the use of any coatings, tests should be made prior to the production run.

If more than one foil is required on a design, specific sequences maybe necessary in the press application. THe artwork must be prepared accordingly for proper coverage and bleeding, just as in printing.


Dies are made from various metals for the specific purposes of economy, quality, longevity, or versatility. The most widely used are the less expensive photo=etched dies made of magnesium or copper. Magnesium is softer and is more easily damaged. Both of these are used primarily for routine flat-stamping and some embossing. Though a little more costly, copper is a harder metal which provides a longer running die which will hold fine detail better in foil stamping. For limited, light-impression foiling, the newer photo-polymer etched dies can be used but are not recommended in most cases. Brass is the most versatile metal, which can be used for any application because it is hand sculpted or precision machined to exact specifications. Brass dies are used when both foiling and embossing are to be done with one die on one press run. It is also used when multi=level embossing/debossing is to be accomplished, sculpting is required, or the alteration of type or design in the die is necessary for successful embossing or stamping.

The counter dies, which are made for embossing by either the die-maker or the pressman, must be cut or molded to exacting shapes of the die to correctly press the paper into the female die. These are generally cut form fiber boards or molded from resins, epoxies, or bakelite.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *