Visit for your ultimate packaging solution

Knowledge Base

What is Foil Stamping?

(Hot) Foil Stamping

Foil stamping is a specialty printing process with a wide range of applications, including stationery, labels, product packaging, holiday cards, seals, pocket folders, postcards,and certificates, to name some.

The modern technique, known as (hot) foil stamping, was first conceived in the late 19th century. Today, it is leveraged to create visual interest and increase the perceived value of products.

Two custom boxes with foil stamped logos.
Foil Stamped Logo

An Overview of Foil Stamping

A foil is a thin film coated with the colors that are applied to a product through a process known as hot stamping. The pigment is placed on a clear film, which acts as a carrier that transfers the color onto the product.

Another layer of the foil consists of pigmented sediments, and a third layer is a heat-activated adhesive that sticks the sediments onto the product.

Like Embossing & Spot UV, Foil stamping can be applied to literally all kinds of paper stocks. It works best for stock with a smooth, even surface as opposed to textured or lined materials.

Types of Foil Stamping

Based on your substrate and the type of finish you want, you can choose from one of the four (hot) foil stamping techniques discussed below:

  • Flat foil stamping, a simple, economical process where a copper or magnesium metal stamp is used to transfer the foil onto the substrate. It achieves a foil design that is relatively raised from the surface.
  • Vertical foil stamping, which is used to stamp foil designs on flat substrates and cylindrical shaped areas.
  • Sculpted foil stamping, which uses brass dies to achieve a raised image for a clearly defined and carved look.
  • Peripheral foil stamping, where foil heat transfers are applied to the outer perimeter – across the entire circumference – of the product.

Typically gold and silver coloring is used to create a luxurious effect. Various finishes, such as glossy, matte, metallic, holographic sparkles and wood grains are available.

Types of Foil Used

There are different types of foil that can be utilized to create distinctive packaging/products in line with your marketing campaign or brand image. They include:

  • Metallic foil, which offers an attractive patina across colors like silver, gold, blue, copper, red and green.
  • Matte pigment foil, which has a muted appearance but an intense depth of color.
  • Gloss pigment foil, which combined high gloss with a non-metallic finish across a variety of colors.
  • Holographic foil, which transfers hologram images for a futuristic, eye-catching look.
  • Special effects foil, which can be used to create a range of textures, including mimicking the appearance of leather, pearl or marble.

The Process of (Hot) Foil Stamping

Foil stamping is a machine-based process. The foiling die on which your design is etched is heated and stamped with high pressure to bond a thin layer of foil to the substrate. The application of heat and pressure is the core approach that delivers the desired result on the substrate.

The die can be made of brass, magnesium or copper. Though it is an expensive purchase, it offers repeated use and is therefore worth the initial investment.

The Benefits of Foil Stamping

As foil stamping doesn’t use ink, the foil color is not impacted by the color of the substrate upon which the design is applied. Foils in light and metallic colors can be easily used on darker colored papers.

A range of finishes can be achieved with (hot) foil stamping, allowing you to experiment with your branding and packaging. The striking effect possible with this technique also makes it a good solution to stand out from the sea of competitor products.

For other print finishing options, you can check out: Embossing & DebossingSpot UVWindow Patching & Soft Touch 

About author

Mark Velarga

Mark Velarga is PakFactory's Director of Digital & Content Marketing. He writes about all things related to design, business and technology and how it serves value to customers, business owners, packaging designers and industry experts. Connect with him on Linkedin.
    Related posts
    Knowledge Base

    Choosing the Right Typeface for your Custom Packaging

    Knowledge Base

    Sustainable Packaging and How it Affects Your Business

    Knowledge Base

    Raster vs Vector: Which to Use for Packaging?

    Knowledge Base

    Why are Consumers Obsessed with Unboxing Videos?

    Sign up for our Newsletter and
    stay informed