Auroraprint - what is hot foil printing?

What is hot foil printing (foil stamping) and how is it done?

Hot Foil Printing/Stamping: Hot Foil Printing, Foil Blocking or Gold Blocking (as it's sometimes known), is the use of metallic, gloss, matt or satin foils pressed onto card or paper using a hot plate (part of the foil printing machine) and an engraved print plate (or block), this creates an effect that you can't achieve with the use of normal print techniques.

The reflective and metallic foils look particularly striking when used for printing business cards on uncoated textured stocks.

The Hot Foil Printing Design: To create a design for using with hot foil printing firstly we take your design ideas and use a computer design programme to make several samples of your ideas and lay them out as they would be printed. These designs will then be sent to you for approval, usually as pdf's, the hot foil design can then be modified until the desired result is obtained.

The Hot Foil Printing Plate (block): Once we have a design that you like we will have a metal hot foil block (also known as a print plate or Die) made up from this design, usually from magnesium or brass.

What is a print plate (or print block): A print plate/block is a metal version of your print design/s etched or engraved into either magnesium (standard), brass (fine detailing) or copper (long print runs).
The image is created in reverse so that when the design is pressed against the card/paper it prints the correct way around.

Magnesium hot foil print plate

Magnesium hot foil print plate.

Magnesium print plates are created using a chemical/UV etching process. They can hold very fine detailing and are fairly affordable, but the magnesium is quite soft and can be easily damaged.

Brass engraved hot foil print plate

Brass hot foil print plate.

Brass print plates are CNC engraved and can hold fine detailing, they also have a steeper etching angle making them better for printing pigment (coloured) foils.
They are more expensive to produce, but are more durable.

The Foil: When you have decided on the print style/colour we will then match the foil to your requirements.
The foils are available in a fantastic choice of colours and finishes, from simple metallic golds (we have a large selection of gold foils), to reds, purples, coppers and hollographic silvers plus many many more.
The most popular colours for business cards are metallic or satin silvers and golds, white, blacks and blues, but we stock a variety of colours including; red, lilac, copper and reflective foils and can source most colours that we are ever likely to require.

The Hot Foil Printing:
Once we have the chosen foils and card, and the print block has been etched/engraved, we just need to start printing your hot foil business cards.

1) Firstly we attach the Print Block to the Hot Foil Printer usng a special heat activated bonding tape.
2) Then we make a few sample prints, to ensure the allignment is good and the colours will look perfect.
3) We then print each foil business card by hand ensuring that each one is printed perfectly.
4) We post them to you and you give happily to your customers!

What's the difference between Foil printing and Letterpress printing?
There seems to be some confusion as to what the difference is between foil printing and letterpress printing. In fact they are quite similar in the way they are applied, but each has its own limitations and suitabilities:

Letterpress Printing is the application of inks using a print plate/die and pressure. The inks come in a variety of colours and can be mixed [PMS] to create an almost limitless possibility of colours. Being able to mix various colours of ink gives letterpress printers and their clients the bonus of being able to colour match the print for logos and corporate colours etc - this is obviously pretty important to some large multi-national companies. It is generally said that letterpress favours a softer cotton type stock to produce the best finish. The inks generally used for letterpress printing will only be available in a matt/satin type finish, although there are some inks that are classed as metallic.

Hot Foil Printing is the application of a thin layer of 'foil' with a print plate/die (similar to letterpress) but uses heat and pressure to adhere the foils. The foils, which come on rolls, are available in various types; Matt, Gloss, Metallic, Holographic and 'Specials' such as scratch-off and security foils. Because foils are applied with heat this does open up the options of materials that can be used; which can include plastic, leather, wood, fabric and more.

The choice as to which you should use for your particular job will be down to your individual requirements.
Contact us for more details.

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Auroraprint is based in Brooke, Norwich - UK.

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