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The complete foil printing guide

What is foil printing?

Foil printing is a finishing process that adheres a thin foil to paper or card stock. There are three main processes; Hot foil printing, Cold foil printing and Digital foil printing. Each has their own positives and drawbacks to bear in mind.

Gold Foil coming off the reel via a machine

What is the process of hot foil printing?

A metal stamp (die) is created for your design. Then through a process of heating the die and applying pressure, the foil is transferred onto the substrate. This process creates a debossed effect.

What are the positives of hot foil printing?

  • Creates a debossed effect

What are the drawbacks of hot foil printing?

  • Can be costly if multiple dies are needed

  • Less reflective compared to other processes

  • Foil can be inconsistent due to grooves in the paper

What is the process of cold foil printing?

Cold foiling uses glue and pressure to bind the foil in the chosen areas of the substrate.

What are the positives of cold foil printing?

  • Works on thinner substrates than hot foiling

  • No dies needed

What are the drawbacks of cold foil printing?

  • Required a separate machine to apply the glue

What is the process of digital foil printing?

Digital foiling uses toner which is then run through heated rollers to adhere the foil to the paper stock. In the process of the toner being heated, it becomes adhesive. This is the process we use at Eight Days a Week Print Solutions.

What are the positives of digital foil printing?

  • No dies needed

  • Quick process

  • Ideal for thin and intricate designs

  • cost-effective

What are the drawbacks of digital foil printing?

  • No debossed effect

  • Lamination can be required

What is the best process for foiling print?

At Eight Days a Week Print Solutions we think digital foil printing is the best process. It allows for the same level of personalisation in digital printing whilst remaining cost-effective. The foiling isn't diminished or dulled in any way giving it a superior finish to the hot foiling process. If you are interesting in getting your next print project foiled please get in touch or explore our range of print services.

How to do foil printing

Heres our steps for how to do foil printing from setting up your files correctly to how we will process them at Eight Days a Week Print Solutions.

Preparing files for digital foil print

The elements to be foiled need to be separated from the rest of the print.

Here are some quick steps if using InDesign:

  1. Open your completed design in InDesign

  2. Create a new page

  3. Whilst holding down Shift select the elements that will be foiled

  4. Copy and paste in place those elements onto your new blank page

  5. Its best practice to them remove them from the page with the rest of the print

  6. Convert the foil elements to Rich black - 40% Cyan, 100% Black

  7. Export as an Adobe PDF (Print)

You should then have one PDF with your regular print design and another with your foiling design. Through the process of digital foiling these two with be layered over each other to get the desired effect.

How your files are then processed to create foiled print

  1. To start your digital print PDF files will be printed as normal.

  2. Once printed the page(s) with the foiling on will be laminated with your choice of Matt, soft-touch or gloss.

  3. The page is then run back through the printer applying the rich black toner on top. Wherever the toner is applied is where the foil will adhere to.

  4. The page is then run through a heated roller activating the toner as it is pressed against the foil. The foil will only adhere to the toner leaving a perfectly foiled printed design every time.

Where you should use foil print

Foiling catches the eye, demanding attention whilst invoking the idea of your brand being high-end, luxurious and expensive. There are many instances where gold foiling can be used to raise your brand.

  • Foiled business cards

  • Foil sticker printing

  • Foil printed cards

  • Foil labels

  • Foiled packaging

  • Foiled vouchers

  • Foiled business stationery

  • Foiled Invitations

  • Foiled Menus

How foil print will help your print projects

Foiled materials automatically carry the connotations of:

  • Class

  • Elegance

  • High-end

  • Exuberance

  • Luxury

  • Sophistication

The nature of the reflective metallic foil is quite eye-catching, helping it stand out and be memorable. It's also a great way to elevate any paper material. If these connotations align with your brand it is something you should consider to help you stand out amongst the competition.

Digital foiling is versatile and can adapt to design changes as well as personalisation.

If digital foil printing is something you would like to explore please get in touch or browse our full print services available.

Inspiration for Foil printing

Looking for some inspirational foil prints to see how other brands have utilised the finishing technique? Here's a range of examples of gold printing, rose gold printing, metallic foil printing, gold-foil stickers or foiled packaging to capture your imagination.

Example of gold foil printing packaging

Gold foil packaging for Prosecco infused Belgian truffles
Gold foil packaging label for Whiskey infused Belgian Chocolates

Example of gold foil business voucher and gold foil Christmas card

More foil printing examples, Business Christmas Card and Voucher with gold foiling