Hot Foil Printing Process Explained

Hot foil printing, or foil stamping, can be done in a few different ways. For individual applications or smaller order sizes, foil stamping can be performed manually using a hot foil stamping machine. For higher volume commercial applications pneumatic pressing machines are used. At Merchology, we utilize commercial foil stamping to decorate a variety of custom notebooks and journals. You can check out our complete foil stamping capabilities here.  

How Does Foil Stamping Work?

Both commercial and smaller-scale foil stamping are accomplished through a similar process. Your design is etched onto a metal die, heated, and pressed onto a layer of foil between the die and your product using a foiling machine. The heated metal die causes the foil to bond to the surface of your product. The types or foils and dies used in this process are detailed below.

Step by Step Guide to Custom Foil Stamping

  1. Create your design – using graphic design software your custom design or corporate logo is rendered before it is sent off to be made into a die.
  2. Create your stamp – your custom design or corporate logo is engraved into a metal die using a die-cutting machine.
  3. Position the foil – place a sheet of foil over the surface of your product covering the desired decoration area.
  4. Heat your die – the die with your etched design or logo is heated before pressing.
  5. Press your stamp – using a foiling machine, your custom die is pressed onto the foil positioned on top of your product. The heat and pressure bonds the foil to the surface of your product.
  6. Mission complete – after your design is applied it is checked for quality, packaged, and shipped right to your door!

Foil Stamped Notebook with Custom Design

What Equipment & Supplies are Needed for Foil Stamping?

  • Computer – a computer with graphic design software like Adobe InDesign is used to mock up your custom design or company logo.
  • Die-Cutting Machine – a die cutting machine is used to etch out your logo or design onto a metal die. Die-cutting machines and hot foil stamping machines are often combined into one large machine.
  • Dies – the die is what is used to bond the foil to the surface of your custom product. This is known as the “stamp” in the foil stamping process. Cheaper dies are made from magnesium and are not very sturdy for continued use. Tougher and costlier dies are made from copper or brass.
  • Foiling Machine – there are three types of commercial foiling machines that are used to customize products. Clamshell presses are used for smaller operations and are manually operated. Straight stamp presses and roll presses are more automated and used for more commercial foiling applications.
  • Foils – it’s the star of the show! There are a few different types of foils that are used in custom foil stamping to achieve different looks. Here’s a brief overview of each:
    • Metallic Foils: used to produce a silver, gold, or copper appearance.
    • Pigment Foils: can be used to achieve a non-metallic glossy or matte look.
    • Pearl Foils: used to achieve a subtler, almost transparent shine without added color.
    • Holographic Foils: used to achieve a holographic or rainbow appearance in the presence of light.

Foil Stamped Notebook with Custom Design

Next Steps

Now that you know what it takes to be a foil stamping pro you can go ahead and start ordering your custom foil stamped products! If you’re still not sure if foil stamping is the way to go for your custom accessories be sure to check out our Complete Decoration Methods Guide or contact us with any questions you might have.