What is Foil Stamping? – Cold vs. Hot Foil Stamping

In a world filled with creative individuals, crafting keeps on gaining popularity and love. With the pandemic clouding over, the approval kept on increasing as crafters had more time to flash their work on social media. Bookmarks, cards, invites, postcards, etc., were made and sold by individuals, earning them financial benefits during dark times.

Foil stamping has been a key ingredient of crafting ever since its birth. After all, adding gold, silver, and other metallic touches to calligraphies or designs have always made them more attractive!

If you are a crafter, check out our take on what is foil stamping. Cold vs. hot foil stamping – find out which is better for your crafting endeavor!

The History of Foil Stamping

Hot Foil Stamping History

Hot foil stamping was first initiated in the 19th century when publishers wanted to give books a more appealing look. They tried hot stamping to get embossed results on leather and cloth-made book covers. Gold tooling procedures were also carried out on the spines and edges to draw readers and collectors. In the late nineteenth century, the idea was finally patented by a man named Ernst Oeser in Germany, causing it to be restricted to book-related printing.

As the world advanced, people finally started expanding the ranges of foil stamping in the mid-twentieth century. In the new process, gold was atomized to form thin sheets that were heated or pressured against substrates. Rotary letterpress machines and flexographic presses could use them to print on paper. This paved the path for other applications like designing plastic boxes, TV frames, radios, refrigerators, containers of cosmetic items, etc.

However, the most important application of foil stamping was not discovered until the 1988s. Offset and flexographic printing presses were used to achieve security printing results. This then assisted the nation in avoiding counterfeits, forgeries, tampering, and other fraudulent activities.

Cold Foil Stamping History

The cold foil stamping process was discovered many years after hot foiling. It involves an innovative printing technology where UV-curable ink is utilized to get results in a hassle-free manner.

Cold foiling was originally done with the help of offset sheet-fed printing technology, but nowadays, you can use flexographic presses to get such results on substrates. Both techniques offer reliable outputs which have a high resolution, making the process suitable for calligraphy. In addition to this, the method is also known to be extremely low-cost, letting people design away at ease.

As of now, cold foil indexing is being slowly introduced to the market – an approach that is going to be more budget-friendly for users. In addition, manufacturers are also looking to reduce the operating times of presses through this process in the hopes of being able to save electricity.

How Does The Foil Stamping Work?

As you already know, foil stamping can be achieved through hot foil stamping (also known as dry stamping) and cold foil stamping. Therefore, we will share the deets on both processes separately!

Hot Foil Stamping Process

Step One: Making a Dye

In order to initiate your foil stamping process, you will need to build yourself a metal die. These are usually made out of magnesium, copper, or brass, and users can get designs imprinted on their surfaces. 

Step Two: Prepare your Foil Stamping Machine

After you make your foiling dies, attach them to the foil stamping machine so that they can be heated up. You should also attach the substrate to the designated position and then cover it with your gold leaf or other metallic foils.

Step Three: Order the Foil Stamped Output

Once everything is set into position, you can give the stamping machine a command to start operating. The printer will then apply pressure to get the foil cut according to the impressions on your die. Meanwhile, the heat emitted from the die will cause the foil to melt, letting it settle on the paper’s surface completely.

Step Four: Removing Excess

As the places with the design have been permanently stuck on your substrate, you should now peel off the foil sheet. This will eliminate all the excess, presenting you with the prints you wanted!

Cold Foil Stamping Process

Step One: Getting your Designs Printed

The cold foil stamping process requires no dies to be engraved. Instead, you will need to print out a UV-curable adhesive paper on your substrate. This should be done in the shape of your output so that you can later receive a design accordingly.

Step Two: Getting the Foil Attached

Lay out your foil on the printed substrate and make sure it covers all the adhesive-filled sections. Next, put the plate under a UV light or UV dryer for a few seconds to make sure that the foil permanently sits on the printed portions. This will cure the adhesive layer causing the foil to be appropriately attached to it.

Step Three: Peeling to Print

You will now have to concentrate on peeling off your foil paper to get your final result. While doing so, you will notice that places without any adhesive prints will get off, leaving you a metallic design or text to look forward to!

What are The Different Types of Foiling Machines, and How Do They Work?

Foil stamping machines can be separated into flat-flat, round-flat, and round-round groups. Let us assist you in discovering the essence of each!

Flat–Flat Foil Stamping Machine

Flat-flat foil stamping machines tend to have their foil dies fixated into a flat or honeycomb-shaped metal plate. On the other hand, a counter plate and plate are situated towards the bottom, providing a place for the substrate and the foil. When a stamping job needs to be accomplished, the foil die moves towards the center and applies force on the plate and counter plates. The heat and force then work together to give you your foil-stamped results.

These foil stamping machines bring one of the most user-friendly interfaces for their users. After a few tries, a straightforward operation process is provided for all, letting people master the functioning. The only drawback is the speed since they perform one task simultaneously.

Round–Flat Foil Stamping Machine

These foil printing machines acquire the name round-flat due to their counter plate and die structure. As with the flat-flat foil stamping machine, the foiling die comes with a flat top that is pulled down to apply pressure.

However, instead of having a flat counter plate, a cylindrical rotating tube is present for holding the substrate. This allows the machine to take care of small-scale stamping tasks at ease. As a result, a higher speed than flat-flat foil stamping machines can be received, but the machine is still unsuitable for large volume tasks.

Round–Round Foil Stamping Machine

Round-round foil stamping machines are the perfect option for professional uses where thousands of foil stamps need to be made per day. They work like printing presses and consist of two rotating cylindrical tubes. The medium and foil are both attached to each cylinder, causing pressure to be applied in between when they spin against each other. Designs are therefore stamped, giving people output quickly.

As the cylinder in round-round foil stamping machines spin with the assistance of high-speed motors, the results are always achieved quickly. They also manage to provide the most detailed work among the three, making the machine suitable for industry-grade tasks.

What are the Differences Between Hot Foil Stamping and Cold Foil Stamping?

Although hot and cold foil stampings provide output in varying metallic frames, they differ whilst talking of substrate, appearance, and process.

Cold foil stamping always manages to lay your metallic foil flatly on the surface of your substrate. The substrate you print upon also needs to have a flat body and smooth finish.

On the other hand, hot foil stamping does not limit people to finishes. Matte, glossy, and textured surfaces can be effortlessly stamped upon. Products that have curved or cylindrical bodies can also receive gold foiled designs and writings. In addition to this, the result tends to have a raised appearance, at times even allowing curves to enhance the effects of calligraphy.

Lastly, there is a difference between the processes of getting the final output. For example, hot foil stamping requires heat and pressure, which restricts the usage of certain substrates, whereas cold foil stamping is carried out under UV lights. This difference, in turn, affects the substrate or medium that is used.

Where You Should Use Foil Printing in Your Designs – Applications

Foil printing is most commonly used in the card printing industry, where it can be used to adorn birthday and greeting cards. The look and feel of designs and calligraphies could be effortlessly elevated, making the product more eye-catching to buyers.

Aside from this, invitation cards like wedding invites, Christmas party invites, and New Year’s Eve celebration invites also tend to use foil stamping. The shiny look seems to make designs stand out in all colors, gifting all of the receivers with good vibes.

Many people also seek to use foil printing to add a chic touch to their professional lives. Business cards, letterheads, reports, and newsletters manage to shine brighter in the eyes of audiences when lustrous designs decorate them.

When the need for printing stamps, money, stock certificates, passports, cheques, etc., appears, people also resort to hot foiling methods. In addition, tactile and visible security features like watermarks, embossing, security threads, etc., are often added with holographic or other metallic shades, preventing threats to justice.

Lastly, most brands will add a touch of metallic foil to make their brochures, boxes, stickers, bags, leaflets, and booklets stand out. A simple touch of gold or silver always manages to increase the value of products in the viewer’s eyes, earning such brands brownie points.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Foil Stamping


  • Foil stamping gives a flashy result that draws the attention of all people. Therefore, products, goods, or works can be easily highlighted in the midst of competitors.
  • These days, as many metallic colors and tones are available, foil stamping can be made very versatile. People will thus, be able to accomplish a wide range of tasks with its assistance.
  • As no ink is used to get metallic looks on the substrate, the process produces no toxic waste. This means that environmental damage is cut down, and so is the hassle created by liquid messes.
  • Foil stamping looks good on both – dark and light shades of paper. So, it can brighten up the overall appearance of your designs.
  • Foil stamping can let you achieve many different types of finishes on your design. Metallic, glossy, matte, holographic, pearlescent, marble, and many other finishes can be brought to your printed product!


  • Foils stamped prints tend to scrape off if you do not laminate them or add a surface coating.
  • You will need to perform each of the steps several times to get multi-colored foil-stamped results.
  • The heat or UV rays used during the foil stamping process can cause damage to your outputs. Therefore, users are also restricted to materials that do not react with the application of heat and pressure.
  • Foil stamping cannot be accomplished on substrates that have undergone thermography. This is because the heat applied throughout the process will cause the resins to melt off the material’s surface.
  • Engraved metal dies that are needed for pressing gold leaf foils into the substrate are rather expensive. Therefore, one should only purchase them if it is going to be a long-term investment.
  • A lot of heat or pressure needs to be created for foil stamping, causing the process to require a lot of energy. Unfortunately, this also increases the cost of operation, making the process expensive.


As we have got you well-acquainted with the foil stamping process, you can now easily make your crafted items stand out amongst others. Both cold foil stamping and hot foil stamping have been discussed, along with the varying machines that can be used to achieve such results. So moving forward, all you have to do is think carefully and find out which method suits your product the best!