Getting a Foothold in the Industry: Everything a Beginner Should Know About Hot Foil Stamping

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Foiling, the process of applying metallic foil to the surface of paper, has been around for thousands of years. Real gold leaf was used to create delicate calligraphy in some of the very first manuscripts ever produced. Today, foiling is typically done with aluminum or tin and is sometimes combined with a touch of color. It is applied either by hand or using a pneumatic-powered machine. In addition to books and manuscripts, it is often used on invitation, business cards, reports, and letterheads. Foiling gives a look of luxury and elegance to the products on which it is used. The addition of foiling options to a print shop’s line-up of services can be very lucrative. The cost to a customer of adding foiling to their product is slightly higher than a regular print job, but it is not so expensive that they don’t choose to do so. This makes it an upgrade that a print shop can typically sell easily. In order to get started in foiling, a print shop owner needs to keep several things in mind, from how the process works to guiding customers in how to set up their artwork for it.

1. How Does the Process of Foiling Work?

The process of foiling is a relatively simple one. First, the customer’s design is etched onto a metal die. Next, the die is heated up. After the die is heated, the foil the customer chose is placed between the die and the surface of the material it is to be applied to, such as paper. Finally, the die is applied to the surface, a process called stamping. It results in the foil bonding to the surface of the paper. This process can be completed by hand or by¬†hot stamp machines. A print shop owner must determine which makes the most sense for their business. Hand stamping is typically used for low-volume jobs, while machine stamping is preferred for high-volume jobs. Stamping machines come in three varieties – clamshell, straight stamp, and roll – and can be supplied by companies such as SBL. Whether using hand or machine stamping, a print shop owner will need dies. These range in cost and can be made of magnesium, copper, or brass.

2. What Types of Foil Are Available?

In addition to choosing hand or machine stamping and the type of machine and dies to purchase, a print shop owner looking to offer foiling must also know the types of foil that are available and what they are used for. Metallic foils are used to replicate the look of precious metals, like the gold leaf used thousands of years ago. They are typically carried in gold, silver, and copper, though other colors are available. These are very elegant and are often used for invitations and business cards. Instead of offering a metallic sheen, pigment foils come in a variety of colors with a matte finish. They can be very eye-catching, making them great for logos and other text that needs to pop from the surface. Pearl foils are mostly transparent colors with a pearlescent sheen. They don’t add much color to a design, but rather a tactile shine. This makes them great for stationary and invitations. Finally, some foils appear to be silver, but in the right light they shimmer with a multitude of colors. These are holographic foils and are good for fun projects and Christmas-themed products.

3. Which Products Is Foiling Appropriate for?

Once set up to provide foiling, a print shop owner will need to know when to recommend the process to customers. Since a variety of foils are available and the process is not prohibitively expensive, most types of print media, such as magazines, books, periodicals, and pamphlets, can benefit from it in some form. A customer can go heavy or light on the foiling in order to add an element of fun, class, elegance, or eye-popping color to their product. Examples of items that are typically subject to foiling include invitations to big events, such as weddings and galas, and packaging, like envelopes, boxes, labels, and stickers. These items tend to look more classy and professional with foiling applied. Business stationary can also benefit from foiling, because it makes a business seem more upscale. Finally, promotional items look more enticing and inspirational with print in foiling.

4. How Should Customers Present Artwork?

One last consideration for print shops looking to begin offering foiling is how the customers should prepare and present their artwork. Different printers prefer different methods. Anyone considering adding this service to their line-up will want to decide what works best for them. In general, it is preferable for the customer to place the elements of the design that they want to be stamped in foil in a separate layer of the design. Print shop owners may also desire them to be placed in a spot color and name the layer ‘hot foil stamping’. A variety of software programs can be used by customers to create artwork for foil stamping, such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Inkscape, and print shop owners should decide what format of files they will accept. Files in the pdf format are the most common.

A growing number of individuals and businesses are beginning to realize the value of adding foil stamping to their products, such as books, invitations, business cards, pamphlets, and more. Therefore, it is a good investment for a print shop owner to consider purchasing the equipment and supplies that are necessary to offer this service. It can add to the profit of the print shop, while adding a special touch to the customer’s product. However, before making any big purchases, the print shop owner should do adequate research so that they are familiar with how hot foil stamping works, the types of foils they should carry, which products are compatible with hot foil stamping, and how customers’ artwork should be prepared and presented. Doing so will ensure a successful launch of their new service offering and lots of happy customers and repeat business.

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