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The difference between magnesium & brass dies

By November 30, 2022News

Dies are vital to the process of hot foiling. The right die will ensure that your design is reproduced in detail and in all its glory. It will be durable and built to last, as well as simple and easy to work with. Most hot foiling dies are either made from brass or magnesium – but what’s the difference?

The process of hot foiling

If you’re not familiar with hot foiling it’s a way to add metallic detail to everything, from packaging to business cards and greetings cards. We see it everywhere today because these metallic accents make products stand out on the shelves and make marketing and business materials memorable. It can also be a sign of a premium product, a mark of quality and a way to make a design unique. Hot foiling is a really simple process that requires a hot foil machine and dies with the individual design on. Heat and pressure are applied to the die, which is placed against a thin strip of foil and the material to be printed on. When the die is removed, the design remains in metallic foil. Hot foiling is incredibly popular today because it’s a reliable process that offers plenty of ways to make your designs stand out. The dies are an integral part of getting this right.

Magnesium dies

This is the softest material that you can use for hot foiling dies and it is ideal for flat foil stamped images. It’s the least expensive of all the metals that are used for hot foil dies, which is one of the reasons why magnesium is such a popular choice. As well as flat foil stamped images, magnesium dies are often used for flat single or multi-level embossed or debossed images. If you’re planning a smaller printing run and looking to keep costs down then a magnesium die will be ideal for the job.

Brass dies

Brass dies require CNC engraving machinery (like the equipment we have at Metallic Elephant) to create the kind of precision that you can achieve with brass dies. Because of the CNC machining it’s possible to achieve greater depth on the design, which makes brass the best choice for fine detail work. The depth in the brass die means that there won’t be any ‘spreading.’ Brass dies can be used for any type of hot foiling but they are often the top choice for longer runs or where you’re printing onto softer and more flexible materials, such as leather. Brass is a very durable material and is a great conductor of heat and tends to retain this longer than magnesium will. No chemical agents are used during the manufacturing process, which means that brass dies tend also to be one of the most sustainable choices for hot foil dies.

Metallic Elephant can produce hot foiling dies in either brass or magnesium. The right choice for you will depend on the design, the length of run and expectations around durability.