Skip to main content

The History Behind Hot Foiling

By June 29, 2022News

Hot foiling is very popular today, whether that’s to create distinctive packaging or wedding invitations. However, it’s not a modern invention. The processes that we use for hot foiling today may be easy and technologically advanced but humans have been using hot foiling for centuries. This is a brief look at the history behind hot foiling, as well as the ways that you can use it today.

Hot foiling has always been a sign of something special

In the earliest days hot foiling was a very exclusive embellishment – and one that was incredibly expensive too. It was used to show quality or prestige and was most likely to be found on book covers, for example. One of the reasons that the early use of hot foiling was so costly was that real precious metals were used instead of foil – so the gilding on books was done with real gold, hand-beaten into smaller pieces that could be foiled. The process was also incredibly labour-intensive, involving hand lettering in many cases, or custom-made dies that also had to be created by hand. This meant that in the early years of hot foiling it was only available to the very rich.

Bringing hot stamping into the modern age

Today, hot foiling is very widely used – and this is largely thanks to the modernisation of the systems and equipment that happened at the end of the 19th century. In the decades that followed the foil itself was also modernised thanks to a process of atomising gold and applying it to thin sheets of polyester film. The development of metallic foil meant that the process of hot foiling was now much more affordable. Plus, it could be used with machines that automatically applied heat and pressure without the need for manual intervention, making hot foiling significantly more efficient too.

How does hot foiling work today?

The early days of hot foiling involved the application of heat and pressure to metal in order to produce the finished result. That basic process has not changed much today – but the way we do it, and the components that we use, has. Today’s hot foiling machines are efficient and very easy to use and the plates that are embossed with your individual design are simpler and faster to create. Foil is now available in many more shades and finishes than traditional shiny gold or silver. In fact, you can choose from a very broad range of colours, as well as looks such as pearlescent or matte.

What can you use hot foiling for?

Pretty much anything that you want. You’ll see hot foiling used frequently on packaging, to help create a distinctive feel, an eye-catching finish and as a sign of quality. Hot foiling is also a great way to make wedding invites distinctive or to create perfect business cards or greetings cards – you can let your creativity run free where hot foiling is concerned.

Hot foiling has come a long way from the early days when it was a time consuming, expensive process. Today, there’s not much you can’t do with this effective, elegant design tool.