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Differences between Metallic & Foil Printing

By September 26, 2022News

The use of metallics in design is a centuries-old tradition. Some of the earliest books, for example, used the process of foil printing to apply real gold leaf to covers and pages to demonstrate their importance. Human beings love shiny things and this has remained the case over the years, translating into the modern world of packaging and products today. There are a number of different ways to use metallics in your designs – here, we’re going to look at metallic and foil printing, as well as a couple of other options.

Metallic and foil printing

If you’re keen to start using metallics in your designs then your two main options are going to be: hot foil stamping and cold foil.

  • Cold foil. This process is a simple way to add a metallic finish to something like product packaging. A UV-curable cold foil adhesive is used to print an image onto the desired surface. Once the foil has been transferred onto the material, it is cured with a UV light. As the name suggests, there is no heat involved in the process and the material itself won’t be impacted by the cold foiling process. This is the ideal option if you’re working with a very smooth surface.
  • Hot foil stamping. If you’re looking to add metallic elements to packaging or something like an invite or a business card, hot foil stamping is ideal. Heat and pressure are used to transfer a design from specially customised dies onto your desired surface. A layer of metallic foil is placed in between the die and the material and it’s this that results in the design being transferred in the shiny finish of your choice. There are many different ways to use hot foil stamping because the options are so vast when it comes to foils. You can stick to traditional metallic colours like gold or bronze or opt for another metallic shade instead, such as red. The range of finishes is broad too, from matte to shiny. Hot foil stamping is most often used in situations where there is a need to create a distinctive, eye-catching finish to demonstrate a high end product, a measure of quality or a luxury feel. Hot foil stamping also creates a very textural finish, which is one of the reasons why it has come to be associated with quality.

What are the other options?

You can also use a process such as metallising to emulate the look of metal on plastic packaging. This is achieved by coating metal being brought to boiling point in a vacuum chamber so that the condensation inside the chamber transfers the metal coating onto the packaging. Another option is heat transfer labels, which provide a durable finish that can help to protect the product underneath, as well as creating a unique design aesthetic.

If you’re looking to apply metallic finishes to your products these are some of the most popular ways to do it. Especially, when it comes to the details – and ease of use – hot foil stamping tends to be the most obvious choice.