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What are Letterpress blocks and how to use them?

By October 5, 2020October 25th, 2021News

Letterpress printing involves producing sharp and elegant copies of an image by using letterpress plates mounted on a moisture-resistant letterpress block. The letterpress block is then used to press a design of your choice onto the paper to create an image. It is a form of relief printing which leaves a deep, lasting impression.

Debossing is used to create the impression below the surface of the end product. The pre-designed blocks are used alongside the debossing technique to create a perfect finish. Letterpress printing also uses ink to print, so you can also apply ink and ‘kiss’ your end product with the impression from the letterpress.

What are Letterpress blocks?

Letterpress blocks are magnesium plates etched to a specific design or typeface, placed onto moisture-resistant wood. Each block needs to be specifically designed and arranged to create the level of detail required for letterpress printing which is unique to the technique. 

The arrangement of the blocks can be used to spell words or produce images and each block is precisely cut to your specific requirements.

How are Letterpress blocks used?

Letterpress blocks can be produced in various styles and sizes. The impression left by letterpress creates a 3D effect and, therefore, letterpress blocks are often used to create:

  • Business cards
  • Birthday invitations
  • Bookmarks
  • Certificates
  • Greeting cards
  • Wedding initiations 

Using letterpress blocks for printing has recently grown in popularity because high-quality impressions cannot be created outside of this process. To create beautiful results, many business owners are investing in their own pressing machines and custom letterpress blocks to create the end product themselves.

Three things you must know before designing letterpress blocks

Getting creative with your designs for your letterpress plates can be fun, but here are three things you should remember before getting started:

  1. Do not use transparency in your designs as these will not be incorporated when printing.
  2. Avoid fine lines in your designs, as this can hinder the quality of the impression. 
  3. Keep designs to black for best success on artworks.

We ask all our clients to refer to Metallic Elephants artwork guide before submitting their designs to ensure their blocks are created to the highest standard. Our free artwork guide is available here

How can Metallic Elephant help?

We have over 12 years’ experience in hot foil printing machines and presses and our very own state-of-the-art etching machines to create custom letterpress blocks, so why not let us help you with your requirements?

Our letterpress plates are kept sharp with straight shoulders to ensure fine or bold detailing on every task. They’re securely mounted on moisture resistant wood to 0.918” / 23.3 mm high and etched to around 2mm. They are also mounted squarely to ensure a speedy setup.

We can also supply you with unmounted letterpress plates for your projects. Our excellent quality 16g/1.63mm magnesium plates is precisely etched by our skilled etchers. Order before 1 pm, and we will etch and dispatch your letterpress blocks the very same day. Get started today by contacting us here.