What is foil stamping?

February 10, 2020

Foil stamping, sometimes called foil printing, is a method of applying colored foils to a surface for an elegant look. Much like embossing, foil stamping uses a combination of heat and pressure to stick foil to a printed substrate. A foil design can be the final touch to elevate a project and captivate the eyes of audiences. Knowing how to use foil in printed materials can make the difference between a standout project and a lackluster one. From business cards to wedding cards, a touch of foil can be all you need to make a project pop. 

How does foil stamping work?

Historically, foil stamping was a manual process, with skilled artisans painting ornamental designs on the book covers with molten gold. Nowadays, the process uses a die, a surface to print on, and a thin layer of foil. The die, cut into the shape of a design, is heated then impressed upon the foil into the printing surface. The combination of heat and pressure permanently binds the thin foil layer to the final surface. Foil stamping and embossing (or debossing) often go together, giving a piece both a visual and tactile “pop”.

What types of foils are there?

The variety of different foils available make foil stamping one of the more versatile techniques in printing. Here are just a few of the many options at your disposal:

Metalized foil

The most commonly used type of foil, metalized foil has, as you might expect, a shiny, metallic look. Metalized foil is perfect for giving a bit of gold or silver finish to an elegant design. 

Pigment foil

Pigment foils are not all too different from their metalized counterparts, although they obviously lack the metallic look. These foils can come in nearly any color, with either matte or glossy looks available, making them particularly versatile. 

Holographic foil

These foils create a “3D rainbow” pattern that you’re likely familiar with from your credit card or ID. Holographic foils can add an extra flair to collectible items, like baseball cards or promotional materials. 

Scratch-off foil

As you can likely guess, people can easily remove scratch-off foils from a printed surface by scratching. As a result, they are ideal for temporarily hiding information that can later be revealed, perfect for lottery tickets or phone cards. 

Calitho is a commercial printer and visual communications company serving the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Let us help with your next printing project by requesting a quote today.