Foil printing, are there different production methods?

Foil printing has an attractive, upmarket appearance. It suggests that the owner cares about their business and takes pride in its presentation. A metallic foil finish isn't only eye-catching, it stands out as looking luxurious. It also feels wonderfully tactile.

All foil isn't equal though, in today's printing world there are two production methods: foil stamping that has roots in the past, and digital foil printing that is leading the way in amazing, cutting edge, yet affordable metallic foil print.

The difference between traditional foil stamping and digital foil printing

Hand full of foil pressing stamps

Traditional foil stamping method

Until recently, the only way to achieve a foil finish on paper was traditional foil stamping. Stamp foiling involves shaped heated plates that press foil onto the paper. It generally works well on thicker material, as the foil sets via the debossing and pressure of the stamp.

As the stamp plates for each job or design are unique, the foiling process is time-consuming. It is therefore quite artisan and as a result, can be expensive. The main drawback is that sometimes picking from specific pre-made stamp patterns is the only option.

Metallic print foil on a roll

Digital foil printing method

Digital foil printing is a lot easier to make as it is printed directly from a computer file. The print achieved is smooth, rather than embossed; as with the traditional foiling block method. It is, therefore, a lot easier to produce and makes a more cost-effective choice for the purchaser.

You're never tied down to choosing a pre-made pattern because no stamps are required. Suddenly printing individual names or different designs is very simple. With stamping, this finish is not possible. If each print were different, you’d need tons of different stamps making up which would cost a fortune. Finally, there is no waiting period to set up the printer as the details are all stored digitally.

With this method, we first place the desired foil colour with a transfer backing in the printer. Rose gold, copper, silver and gold are our most popular foil colours. When the foil is heated and pressed onto the paper, the foil detaches and adheres to anywhere printed in solid black ink. Only those areas in black get hot enough for the adhesive to be activated, hence why it is so easy to have any design you want.

How can we help you?

We have two foil printers in-house, so helping you print what you're looking for couldn't be easier. The experience of our designers means we know what works well, so do ask if you need some help or inspiration for that original look.