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The Beginner’s Guide to Foil Printing

foil printing

What is Foil Printing?

Foil printing is an evolution of the 'illumination' process found in ancient texts (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/medievalbooks/decorationandillumination.aspx). Gold, silver or gemstone powders were used to give treasured books colour and prestige. The foils used today are rarely of precious metals or stones these days, but they remain a fabulous way to add a touch of glamour to any invitation, card, document or marketing application.
Foil stamping is used to pick out certain areas of text, logos or patterns against the rest of the design in question. This might be the glossy title on an art book, or your company's logo on a business card.

How does it work?

Here at IPW1, we use acid etching to create a magnesium die: a kind of stamp. The die is placed into the printing machine with the foil and heated. The foil (usually made from tin or aluminium) is pressed onto the areas where the chosen design should be by the magnesium die. Through a combination of this pressure and heat, the foil transfers onto the paper.

What sort of things can I print?

Foil stamping has almost limitless applications. If you want to create a simple wedding invitation, foiled text on plain card is a classic choice. However, foil is great for highlighting any feature: make a glossy fake sticker for a poster, or use the change in texture to make logos stand out against a photographic background.

Why should I use foil printing?

Besides the intrinsic beauty of the method, foil printing is a good way of enhancing the perceived worth and authority of what you make. Gloss and shine are associated with a high value. A great deal of marketing and business communications which were once physically printed have moved towards digital formats, but sometimes it’s important to give clients, customers or colleagues something to manually interact with. When you need to make a lasting impression, foil printing helps to make your message more memorable.

How do I get started foil printing?

Step one
As with any print project, first it’s best to finalise your design. You can either make your own design, approach your printers with your ideas or hire a graphic designer. As with any other kind of printing, you can be as inventive with the typeface as you like. If you are designing something for your business, you might want to include any symbol the company has.

Step two
Choose your format. Think about where your print will be displayed, who will be handling it and how much information you need on each surface. It may be worth consulting a designer or a member of the IPW1 team to work out the right size for your item. For even the simplest of projects, there are a myriad of format options to choose from: if you're sending a card, do you need envelopes? These too can be foil printed. If you are assembling a book or similar printed material the binding is important for making the right first impression. These kinds of choices also contribute to the durability of the final article.

Step three
Choose which areas or text you would like highlighted. Titles and borders are an obvious choice, but there may be other aspects to think about. You can bring focus to words within a pamphlet, or even add light direction and depth to drawings. You can also use foil stamping in conjunction with other techniques like embossing and debossing.

Step four
Your printing specialist will help you choose from a range of colours and levels of iridescence. Gold is a classic selection, but there are many other foils: glossy pigments with no metallic effect can be subtle or as bold as you like, holographic colours make a grand statement or opalescent finishes give a magical impression. You also need to select the material for printing. The shine offered by foil printing is a great opportunity to explore the versatility of paper and card. We are happy to discuss any ideas you might have, or show you a wide selection of different colours, weights and textures.

Step five
Double check your design. We are willing to tackle unusual and challenging requests. For any printer we will be happy to discuss any further requirements, especially if that means not wasting time and materials on an unsuitable project. Don't be afraid to contact IPW1 with any final adjustments before going to print.

Step six
Wait while your creation comes to life. Your design will be carefully printed in the foils of your choice on high quality materials.

Step seven Enjoy your product. Foil printing adds instant luxury and glamour, and is sure to delight anyone who sees the end result.

Foil printing is the perfect finish for any carefully designed print item.
It has been used for high-profile events, intimate weddings and for ambitious direct mailing strategies. Contact IPW1 (http://www.ipw1.co.uk/contact-2-2/) for contemporary print craftsmanship, whatever your needs.

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