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Foil Stamping

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What Is Foil Stamping?

Foil stamping is a special process by which a large sheet of thin metal foil is placed over your selected card stock, and heat and substantial pressure is applied on the press to stamp the foil onto the card stock in the precise shape of the die presssed down over the foil.

The die — a mold that is custom made to your specifications — is custom-made from a light metal (typically magnesium). Dies take a few days to make (generally a minimum of five), and upon completion of each job, the die is recycled. For foil stamping, there are additional charges associated with making each custom die, as specified in the pricing notes. Under certain conditions, die charges are waived for magnesium dies. If die charges apply to your job, you will be notified in advance.

In some cases, primarily due to complexity of the image required in foil (or for some blind embossing jobs), a multiple-level die is required. These are hand-carved out of brass, and are good for approximately one million impressions. These typically cost between $600 and $800. These costs are passed directly to you and are in addition to the printing or other applicable charges. Due to the cost and sturdiness of multi-level dies, we typically retain these for one year. Under special arrangement we could also ship the dies to you to retain. You would then be required to ship them back to us for any reorders or new jobs using that die. If your job requires a multi-level die, you will be notified as soon as we see your artwork, and the job will be quoted accordingly.

Foil Stamping Guidelines, Caveats, and Pitfalls

For foil stamping to look good in the final printed piece, you should keep several things in mind:

  • All type should be a minimum of 10 points. The clearer the typeface, the better your foil-stamped finished piece will look.
  • All logos, designs, or solid lines should be at least 2 points wide.
  • To avoid quality issues, fancy or curly type styles, finely detailed logos, and very thin lines should be avoided. Foil, not ink, is being stamped onto the finished product, and will behave accordingly. If we design a card for you from scratch, we will ensure that the appropriate design elements are included and we will be happy to consult with you regarding the best approach for a high- quality foil piece. We are not responsible for smudging or blurriness of fine print, italics, thin lines, or other elements that we recommend you avoid.
  • Finely detailed logos, screens, traps, and hairline registration with ink or with another foil are not available.
  • We do not recommend using foil stamping or embossing on both sides of a card, or foil stamping or embossing on two-sided business cards. The processes of stamping foil or embossing a card involve putting pressure on a die from the top of the press, which may at times leave a slight impresson visible on the verso (back) of the card. If there is foil or embossing on the other side, the die may have undesired effects (crushing the foil or creasing the emboss). If you request us to produce foil stamping or embossing for a two-sided card, or stamping or embossing both sides of a card, you understand the risks and agree to accept them. We will not reprint an order at our own expense based on requests from customers that we indicate are not recommended.
  • If you need foil and ink in registration, a higher-quality, higher-cost printing press is required, and other pricing applies. We are happy to accommodate your preferred design. However, note that if the design you want costs us substantially more to produce, it will cost you substantially more to produce. Upgrading to the higher-end press is in some cases less expensive as die charges are typically waived.
  • Magnesium dies are one-time use only, and the die is recycled after use. For additional print runs, the same charges would again apply.
  • Only customer-supplied dies are returned, unless other arrangements have been made in advance.
  • When and if available, brass or copper dies for multiple use will be used and retained on request. Additional charges apply.
  • Custom foil stamping is available on all paper stocks, alone or in combination with thermography or flat spot-color printing, and with 4-color printing.
  • There must be at least 1/4-inch between any ink and the foil stamping for the pricing shown on our web site. If foil is 1/4-inch or closer to ink, close registration charges, plus charges associated with running the job on the higher-end Hamada press, will apply.
  • Business card prices listed on our web site are specifically for producing foil stamping on our 2-color press. These prices apply for foil-only or spot color plus foil jobs involving two spot colors or fewer. In these cases, additional die charges will also apply, as listed in our pricing notes section. Time in shop for foil stamping jobs on the 2-color press are a minimum of 10 to 15 working days due to the requirement to fabricate the die.

    We can also produce foil stamping on higher-end presses, which is required for printing foil and ink in registration, for spot color printing of 3 or more colors with foil, for printing two foils in registration, or other conditions (such as producing digital full-color process (DFCP) printing and foil, or fully floodcoating a card with ink plus stamping foil). Any time we are required to use a higher-end press, you must request specific pricing. We do not guarantee the prices indicated on our posted pricing sheet if the parameters go beyond those listed above. (The good news is that in such cases we typically waive die charges for one-time foil jobs).

  • Blind embossing of printed areas is not available.
  • Foil stamping on stationery or letterhead may not be laser-safe or copier-safe. No certifications will be made regarding compatibility with specific equipment. We recommend you order a small initial run to test compatibility.

Foil Stamping Colors

Foil stamping colors include:

Shiny Gold* Standard Gold (Matte)
Shiny Silver* Standard Gold (Matte)
Copper Pink*
Blue Dark Blue
Red Burgundy
Kelly Green* Forest Green
Black White
Holographic** Rainbow**

Foil colors marked with are only available on our high-end press.

Foil colors marked with * are only available on our two-color press.

Foil colors marked with ** are only available on our two-color press, and are subject to a $40 surcharge.

For our high-end press, other foils are available via special order. If you provide us with foil manufacturer name, foil color and stock number, we can quote you pricing for special orders. Typically add an additional 5 days in shop for special orders.

Additional Costs Associated With Dies

Additional die charges are associated with all foil stamping or embossing work produced on the two-color press. See pricing notes for specific details. For each card stock, foil stamping or embossing is given its own row (based on whether ink colors are also required) in each pricing matrix. For more information, see Business Card Printing Prices.

Additional Time Requirements

While most of our business card orders can be shipped within 48 hours of receipt of the final artwork, foil stamping (or embossing) requires custom-made dies and additional care with regard to any printing that must occur in combination with using dies.

As a result, for any order requiring custom dies, turn-around time for all foil stamping or blind embossing jobs require a minimum of 15 days in-house. Remember to extend this figure to include shipping. We can sometimes improve on this time, but there is no guarantee. This is not within our control.

View other business card related pages:

Business Cards   |    Ink Colors   |    Foil Stamping   |    Card Stock   |    Design   |    Card Pricing   

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