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Mar 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Nothing says “fancy” like foil stamping. A foil-enhanced greeting card says you cared enough to spend a little more. Savvy package designers have taken a shine to it — a little bit of gleaming foil is just the thing to help their wares catch shoppers' eyes. Foil also can be used to combat fraud — you'll find it on many tags and tickets.

Foil stamping begins with the heating of a die mounted on a platen. Foil is then placed between the die and the material to be imprinted. When the die presses against the foil, the heat releases the coloring layer from the foil and binds it to the end product.

Foil stamping often is combined with blind or foil embossing and diecutting to create a dazzling array of effects. Most commercial printers prefer to let specialty finishers handle the really high-end jobs. But as the equipment has gotten more affordable and easier to use, some projects are staying in-house. A few printers are even exploring a hot foil alternative: inline cold foiling offered on some vendors' offset presses. The following is a selection of dedicated hot stamping options.

Faster foiling

Job preparation can render unproductive up to 50 percent of a foiling machine's production hours; this is attributed largely to job preparation. Bobst Group (Roseland, NJ) has worked to reduce this lost time with its Foilmaster 104. With double the heating capacity of previous models and a Bernoulli sheet braking system, the Foilmaster 104 runs at up to 7,500 sph.

The Foil Register (FR) version accurately registers foil to print on the sheet. The Foilmaster 104 FR offers higher speed (8,000 sph) and features a register system that allows the position of the sheet at the machine infeed to match according to the print, not according to the edges of the sheet.

The Foilmaster 104 has an external foil unwinding unit for easy changeovers. The belt unwind system ensures minimum tension and eliminates the need for foil braking adjustments during production. Options include a hologram device for accurate holographic image registration and shim line detection to eliminate these lines from the final product. The Foilmaster 104 and 104 FR also can be converted for diecutting.

Circle 191 or visit

Small and midsize jobs will shine

Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) KAMA ProCut 74 is a fully automatic diecutter for small and medium runs. The user-friendly ProCut 74 has a short setup time and can change from hot foil stamping to cutting or vice-versa in 20 minutes. The diecutter converts plastic, paper, paperboard and microflute corrugated board, and it can cut and crease plastic materials. Precise sheet feeding and alignment into the gripper bar ensure accurate transfer.

Options on the KAMA ProCut 74 include blind embossing, hot foil stamping, a combination of blind and hot embossing, and hologram stamping. Maximum sheet format size is 29.13 × 23.62 in.

Circle 192 or visit

High-speed foil press

THERM-O-TYPE's (Nokomis, FL) NSF A3+ can perform hot foil stamping, blind and foil embossing, diecutting, kiss cutting, perforating, scoring, imprinting and numbering at speeds up to 5,500 iph. The NSF A3+ has been designed to fill the needs of greeting card, business card, stationery, invitation and announcement manufacturers, and commercial letterpress shops.

Paper registration and foil draw length, counter functions, jam detect/interrupt, double feed detect/interrupt, speed and impression pressure functions are controlled and displayed via touchscreen. Three sensors monitor paper movement through the NSF A3+. Additional sensors monitor the lubrication system and detect out-of-foil or foil break conditions. If an error occurs, the machine automatically drops off the impression and stops. Error condition information then will appear on the control display.

The NSF A3+ features the new TDC and BDC (top dead center and bottom dead center) touchscreen controls. TDC represents the maximum closed position of the imprint mechanism. BDC represents the maximum open position of the imprint mechanism. Using these controls, operators can quickly and accurately set the initial impression pressure at the start of each job. This helps to eliminate the potential for smashing dies due to improper impression adjustment.

Circle 193 or visit

Transform your existing diecutter

Graphic Art Systems Inc. (Ocean, NJ) offers Eagle hot foil stamping machines for conversion of automatic diecutting presses. The Eagle system is designed to install in the stripping section of any 30- to 65-inch platen diecutter, featuring up to four foil indexers and computer-driven foil positioning. It has a holding accuracy of +/- 0.002 inch while running up to 8,000 sph, and it retains accuracy at speeds over 7,000 sph. It accommodates foil rolls up to 10 inches in diameter and tracks foil usage by tracking foil indexed and jogged, recording an exact running total of foil used.

Circle 194 or visit

Remember when?

As late as 1955, Werner Rebsamen, RIT professor emeritus and bindery guru, recalls using a gas-heated, hand-operated stamping press during his days as an apprentice and journeyman bookbinder.

Prior to the development of hot-stamping foils, some book covers required as many as 14 different setups and foils. Ernst Oeser, a German master bookbinder, pioneered the development of hot-stamping foils in the 1880s.

Foil manufacturing really began to blossom in the 1950s. “Vacuum metallizing became extremely popular among all foil manufacturers,” Rebsamen recalls. “Forming such thin metal films of simulated gold and aluminum resulted in quality stamping — fine definitions could be maintained.”

Putting the‘foil’ in PFFC

Our sister publication, Paper, Film & Foil Converter (PFFC), also is an excellent source of foil stamping and embossing information. “Foil Stamping: Let it Shine” looks at product trends from suppliers including Kurz, Crown Roll Leaf and Bobst Group. See

It doesn't end here

AMERICAN PRINTER has a number of related articles archived online:

  • “Something old, something new” (January 1995) takes readers back to the early days of thermography up through more recent innovations in foil stamping and embossing.
  • “Diecutters: the shape of things to come” (November 2003) covers today's expanded options reflecting two larger trends: a saturated commercial printing market and customer demand for shorter print runs with faster turnaround times.
  • “Diecutters do more with less” (November 2004) features diecutting options, including dedicated presses, inline attachments and more.
  • “Package deal” (January 2007) explores Heidelberg's range of diecutters and folder/gluers.

All of our articles are available online at

Pop with foil

From folding cartons, greeting cards and invitations to labels, presentation folders, promotional items and more, the Foil Stamping and Embossing Assn. (FSEA) annually seeks out the crème de la crème of the industry's products featuring foil stamping, embossing and holography. FSEA honors these shining examples of the process with its Gold Leaf Awards competition.

The 2007 Gold Leaf Awards will be presented during the FSEA National Convention in Scottsdale, AZ, April 10-12, 2008. AMERICAN PRINTER will once again feature these winning entries later in the year. For past year's winners, visit our online archives at



The Intl. Assn. of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD) and the Foil Stamping and Embossing Assn. (FSEA) will host the 2009 IADD/FSEA Odyssey May 6-8, 2009, at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, GA. Odyssey is a trade exhibition targeted specifically to diecutting, diemaking, foil stamping, embossing and other graphic finishing techniques. The three-day event will combine a fully operation TechShop floor, industry-specific educational sessions and an exhibition hall. Attendees will see a wide array of foil stamping, diecutting, folding/gluing and diemaking machinery running both in demonstrations and in technical sessions throughout the TechShop floor and exhibition hall. Programming will address some of the most up-to-date issues faced by industry professionals today, featuring new technologies and real-time solutions on a variety of topics with bottom-line impact.

Visit for more information and continual updates.