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Foil Stamping, Foil Embossing and Blind Embossing

We are often asked, what the differences are between these imaging processes and what should be considered in deciding which is best for a given project. In this article we discuss foil stamping.

Foil stamping comes from a tradition predating modern printing. Gold foil leaf was used to enhance and add artistic beauty to important documents long before enlightenment age technology enabled words to be printed on paper. Many examples dating from ancient times through the middle ages illustrate the timeless quality of gold.

Gold Foil Leaf - Bible of Saint Louis, France c. 1230

Foil Stamping, often called hot foil stamping or sometimes wrongly, "foil embossing" is the modern version of gold foil leaf. Foil stamping is the process of pressing a metal foil image into a substrate with heat and pressure. With presentation folders the image is first engraved in relief on a metal die, then metal foil film is placed between the die and presentation folder stock. This film is then pressed into the stock releasing the metal film.

Unlike it's ancient predecessor, gold leaf, the resulting image is flat, permanent and durable. The stamped image is made of actual metal (not ink or toner), applied with heat+pressure and so highly resistant to pealing and fading. Remarkably, foil stamping is proven to be more effective than standard printing in consumer favorability ratings (Clemson University Study) giving unknown generic products an advantage over established name brands. We will discuss foil embossing and blind embossing in our next article.