Foil Stamping

Also known as Hot Stamping or Hot Foil

Foil Stamping is a relief process that uses a metal die and with heat and pressure transfers foil to paper. Foil Stamping was used predominantly for book covers in the 19th Century and came out of the practice of brushing on real gold leaf to decorate leather bound books.

Brushing gold onto books was expensive and not efficient when the world started demanding mass-produced books so the practice of Foil Stamping onto covers was born. Stemming from that rich tradition, Foil Stamping adds a flourishing touch to packaging and stationery that other processes cannot mimic.

Foil Stamping’s current use is predominantly used for packaging and to embellish stationery such as letterheads, business cards, or envelopes. The Foil Die is metal and can be made of copper, brass, or magnesium. The die is created using a digital file and is etched by a machine. The die represents the image that will be foil stamped onto the paper.


The foil die is metal because it needs to conduct heat. A foil stamping press will use heat and pressure to release the foil onto the paper.  A die is mounted to a chase that is attached to the bed of the pneumatic press. The counterpart to the press bed is heated and reaches 250 degrees. This is the side that the die attaches to, thus conducting the heat to the die. A roll of foil sits on a spool above the chase and is fed between the die and the paper.  The press then clamps down and creates the pressure which, coupled with the heat, is needed to release the foil onto the paper.

Foil stamping often uses a metallic foil such as gold, silver, or bronze but can come in an array of colors both matte and gloss. There are also holographic foils, pearl foils, and pigment foils. All of these elements together create an image that was inspired by using brushed gold.

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