Specifying Papers for Foil Stamping and Embossing
Uncoated Stocks: Long fibered stocks, composed of either virgin pulp or a good mix of virgin and recycled fibers, emboss wonderfully. Longer paper fibers stretch the best, creating a deep crisp emboss. Sheets with shorter paper fibers, such as those with a high recycle content or coated sheets, also emboss beautifully, but shorter paper fibers cannot stretch as far, resulting in slightly shallower embossing. Good embossing smooths the paper texture on the embossed image, so textured papers oftentimes produce the most impressive embossing because the smooth embossed image stands out in contrast to the textured paper stock. Additionally, the heavier a stock, the deeper it will emboss. A 130# cover will emboss more deeply than its 80# counterpart, and a cover sheet will emboss more deeply than text a weight sheet.
Foil stamping works well with uncoated sheets, though foil stamps cleaner on smooth uncoated stocks. The rough, textured surface of many uncoated sheets provides a challenge for foil stamping, sometimes resulting in foils stamping with uneven edges. Small serif type should be avoided on textured stocks, and fine reverses can be a problem. In any event, the stamper should be consulted at the design stage to gauge feasibility. Oftentimes, ink holdout is relatively poor on uncoated stocks. In contrast, most foils are opaque, and hold their color against even the darkest uncoated stocks, making foil stamping a most appropriate technique on dark cover stocks.
Coated Stocks: Coated paper actually blind emboss very well. The embossing will not be as deep as on uncoated – short paper fibers and inflexibility coatings prevent the paper from stretching to the same extent. However, the coating reflects light, causing the embossing to pop from the sheet. Ink restrains the depth of embossing because it cracks when stretched dramatically. Therefore, we create shallower emboss dies when we are working with sheets flooded with ink.
- Coatings and Foils Stamping
- Varnishes: We generally request a wax-free varnish as it seems to work better with a wider variety of foils. Although we have foiled over some regular varnishes without encountering any difficulty, it’s better safe than sorry.
- UV Coatings: We’ve found many variances on UV coatings. The only ones we can foil on are specially made to be compatible with foil stamping (the UVer needs to know at the time of quoting). We prefer to run the foil first and UV over the top. Either way, we strongly suggest testing before the actual run. Again, the UVer must know at the time of quoting.
- Aqueous Coatings: These coatings generally work very well with our foil. However, if it is an unusual foil or if we have never run an aqueous from a particular printer, it is always safest to test first to avoid problems later.
- Laminations: Again, we prefer to foil first, your laminator will need to know at the time of quoting that they will be going over foil. Also, by running the foil first, the lamination protects the foil from any scratching that occurs with normal wear and tear. We are able to foil over lamination, however you are limited as to the kind and colors of foils you can use. We will need to test before the actual run.
- ** PLEASE NOTE: A test for foil compatibility over a coating is very simple. All we require is one or two sheets of stock with the exact same coating that would be used on the project. We can usually make our evaluation after one or two hits of foil.
Vinly / Plastic Coated Sheets: The characteristics of vinyls and plastics are so varied as to defy easy characterization. Suffice to say that many forms of each can accept both embossing and foiling, but testing must be performed to test its suitability.
Flecked Papers: A dense concentration of flecks in the paper stock will lessen the visual impact of embossing. Embossing relies heavily on shadowing to set it off visually. Flecked papers interrupt those shadows, thereby obscuring the embossed image. Process color printing does the same thing.
Naturals: We have witnessed a large growth in stamping on “industrial sheets” as they have become and ever-increasing part of the designer’s paper palette. Chipboard has been especially popular, and it works very well. Corrugated boards are more difficult to work with, but because printing them is sometimes even more difficult, we have done several projects with them.