Printing Special Effects
There are several treatments in printing that are considered special processes.
Not many printing companies do this in house and many of these processes are sent out to
graphic finishers that specialize in "finishing work". Foil Stamping, embossing, combination
stamping, and die cutting are the most common that we will discuss.
Foil Stamping can be either a flat foil stamp or a combination stamp where the image is raised
above or below the surface of the sheet. Foil stamping is the process where foil is transferred
to the substrate(paper) through heat and pressure. The pressure is applied through the die that
carries the image to a platen of a letterpress usually. The platen is also heated to release the
foil to the substrate. Dies are made of metal and the most common metals used are: Brass, Copper
and magnesium. Combination stamp dies actually carry the depression of the image while the
counter die carries an exact opposite image. The paper is then squeezed between the two with
heat to transfer the foil and emboss the image at the same time. Combination stamp dies are
more expensive to make but that is the only sum cost difference between flat and combination
Embossing is basically a very similar process to foil stamping only there is no transfer of
foil. The level of the image is either raised(embossing) or lowered(debossing) from the
original level of the paper surface. Blind embossing is where the image that is being raised
has no ink on it. If you emboss and need to register to the ink it is called color register
embossing. On embossing a die and counter die are always needed to be able to emboss the
paper between them. This pressure will flatten the paper fibers to help create an image.
Heat can be used to enhance the image by actually helping to iron the paper to a smooth
Die Cutting is a process where a steel rule die is used to cut the paper into the desired
shape of the die. This is how pocket folders and other shaped pieces are produced. They are
usually printed on square or rectangular sheets and then die cut to create the desired shape.
Then the die cut piece is scrapped out of the sheet either by the press itself or by hand.
Nicks are put in the die to prevent the piece from falling out in the die cutting press
itself. Pocket folders, brochures, direct mail, postcards, flyers are all pieces that can
be diecut to special shapes.
Kiss Cutting is a diecutting process where the die cuts through the first layer of the material
but does not cut through the backing. Most commonly used on label material to help the label to
be easily peeled off the backing. Diecuts can be in any shape or size. Kiss cutting is usually
done on a letterpress machine such as a Kluge or Heidelberg windmill. It does involve a steel
rule die. The pressure is adjusted to cut just through the first surface but not the base
All of these processes are done in house at The Odee Company.
Type of Dies