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Hot Foiling in the Printing Industry

By November 23, 2022News

You don’t have to look far today to see a great example of how hot foiling is being used to enhance everything, from packaging through to business cards, stationery and marketing materials. This clever, quick printing process actually has its origins in some of the very first manuscripts – although today we don’t tend to use real gold leaf to achieve the same effect. Instead, hot foiling is the process of applying metallic foils in the design of your choice to create an appealing and unique aesthetic that always creates the right result.

How does hot foiling work today?

When it first arrived on the scene, foiling meant applying raw gold leaf onto manuscripts as well as materials such as picture frames, statues and furniture. It was time-consuming and expensive but continued to be used as the printing press became a normality in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, we use a thin metallic foil instead of raw gold but the impact can be just as impressive. Hot foiling requires a special printing press with carved metallic plates called dies that contain the design that is to be recreated in the foil. The die is pressed against the material with the foil in between and when heat and pressure are applied that’s when the magic happens. There are a number of different options to choose from when it comes to how you hot foil today. For example, you can choose magnesium or brass dies – magnesium tends to be softer (which makes it easier to etch) and will heat up quickly so is ideal for shorter print runs while brass is much more durable. Copper dies are another option, heavier than magnesium and longer lasting but not as durable as copper. Dies are created using acid etching and can be reused multiple times.

What about the foil?

Today, the foil that is used in the process of hot foiling has multiple layers, including a release layer, lacquer layers and an image layer. There are a very broad selection of options to choose from when it comes to these foils, which means you have the opportunity to make your design really unique. Metallic foils are some of the most common that are used for hot foiling but you can also opt for pigmented foils, pearlescent foils, holographic foils and even scratch off foils.

What can you use hot foiling for?

This is a very versatile printing process that is used throughout industries, whether that’s to convey the sense of a premium brand via its packaging or to ensure that marketing materials are eye-catching. It’s also simple and can be successfully and consistently replicated multiple times. Card and paper tend to be the materials that are most often used for hot foiling but there are few limits on this and you can even foil onto leather or wood.

Hot foiling is a technique frequently used in the print industry wherever there is a requirement for a unique design or conveying a sense of luxury and quality.

Contact us today to discuss how Metallic Elephant can help you personalise your products and make your brand stand out from the crowd.