How to Hot-Stamp
Written By: Ben Ramirez
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What is Hot-Stamping
Hot stamping is the process of using pressure and heat to apply foil to materials such as plastic, cardboard, card stock, paper, and more! The printing process differs from silkscreen printing or pad printing, as there is no ink used. It’s been around since the ancient Egyptians, and still used today. It’s often called “Hot-Stamping” because of the process in which heat is used to transfer images onto a product’s surface. Some refer to it as dry foil stamping, as there’s no liquid ink involved. Rather, metallic plates and dies that are heated up and smashed onto a layer of specialized foil sitting on top of the product. The foil’s adhesive layer is activated and the release layer melts away where it attaches the foil to the underlying product.
Foil stamping has its roots in ancient Egypt where gold was beaten with a hammer until extremely thin and applied to papyrus or other materials to add luster. Even think about “gold leaf” and how that was an exclusive or reserved for royalty or religious areas, and how that was created in such a manner. After the invention of the printing press, foil stamping used hand-set letters or dies that were custom engraved to be applied to clothing or other goods, like book covers.
A master bookbinder developed actual hot-stamping foils in the 1800s where atomized gold was used on thin sheets of polyester film. The process is similar to letterpress and engraving, where pressure is used to apply the desired image/writing. When a design is finalized, metal plates are created for the shape or image needed. Then the dies are heated and pressure is applied to the die, in order to activate that adhesion layer. Dies could be made for a raised or an embossed effect, depending on the customer’s and product’s needs. The popularity of hot stamping continued well into the 1950s and 1960s.
Hot stamping is used to create a range of decorative and utilitarian products. It’s commonly used in medicine, food, and beverage packaging - and NOW disc golf! Foil stamping is also used on artwork, currency, wedding invitations, greeting cards, and so much more. From labels and stickers, to scratch-off lottery tickets - hot stamping is an easy and inexpensive way to add eye-popping effects to your products!
Well one of the biggest benefits that hot stamping can bring is the endless variety! You can have an endless supply of foil colors, textures, prints, and finishes. It helps your brand stand out from competitors. It helps to improve the visual appeal of a company’s products. And it’s an easy/cost effective way to get customers’ attention and drive sales. Many of the world’s most well-known brands use hot foil stamping, like AGL Discs, in their product labeling and packaging - as it lends a feeling of high quality and luxury. It creates a refined, elegant, look that tells the customer they’re worth the extra effort! With high quality foil and machinery from HPS, it’s easy to create unique products!
Another great reason is that hot stamping is environmentally friendly, because it doesn’t render the product unrecyclable.This sustainability side of hot stamping is a huge plus if you’re targeting conscious buyers. When a brand positions itself as an eco-friendly one, many consumers expect that its sustainability efforts affect its entire operations from production to distribution. Making your packaging sustainable helps you meet this customer expectation. Other benefits include:
- Highly visible
- Complements other printing techniques
- Aids brand perception
- Elevates the “unboxing” experience
There are many different types of foils used in hot stamping. Here are some and a quick breakdown of each.
- Metallic Foils - most commonly used in hot stamping, widely available and they WORK!
- Pigmented Foils - a glossy or matte non-metallic finish. These may not be good for paper and plastic but can be found in almost any color.
- Pearlescent Foils - add an attractive shine and are used for invitations and greeting cards, and available in translucent and transparent finishes.
- Specialty Foils - come in various types and used to create many different patterns, such as: Stripes, Crackles, Holographics, and other custom designs.
- Scratch Foil - very very thin foil that is not permanent
There are so many different brands and manufacturers out there. Here are a couple that we have at HPS and that are commonly used in other manufacturing companies. They each have a specific rating for what they can go to temperature wise, and what they were designed for, as well. Please make sure to use gloves, when handling the machine while it’s turned on. Set up all parts before turning the machine on, and use loctite to secure and bolts that need it. Please see our “HotStamping 101” video on YouTube.
In order to fix your machine we are dedicating a complete video to taking apart your machine and tips to fixing the most common issues that typically arise.
Dies / Stamps
There are typically 3 types of metal used to create the dies, or stamps, used in hot stamping. Depending on the color, type, and pattern of the foil to be used… a separate foiling die may be prepared for each design. According to their application and cost, here are the three most common metals used.
- Magnesium Dies - this inexpensive, soft metal is easy to manipulate into various shapes. These dies are lightweight and don’t take as long to etch and they’re quick to heat, but they do wear out rather quickly.
- Copper Dies - this metal is slightly more expensive, and heavier. They take longer to engrave, but are more rugged and can produce lasting, high-quality designs.
- Brass Dies - this metal is the sturdiest and most expensive. These dies are tough enough to last through thousands of stamps and typically CNC manufactured.
There are many different ways to install your die/stamp. Some machines require the die to have holes drilled out and then you screw bolts through the stamp, into the machine. Other machines have either a hole, a notch, or cut out; and then the stamp would have a bolt fastened to the back side of the die, and it is attached through that hole and secured. There are other chase style mounts, as well. Please see our “Hotstamping 101” video on YouTube.
If you are interested in purchasing a machine, please contact us with any questions or comments. If you would like to order a stamp, or die, to be made for you or your company, please visit our website. And please find any of our amazing foil options at www.highpressurestamps.com. Thank you!
High Pressure Stamps is a family owned and operated company. WE CUT METAL!