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Specialty Finishes - Designing Eye-Catching Labels

This blog examines some of the cutting edge technology available in the label industry today.

Hot Foil stamping and embossing create richly textured labels that add perceived value to products.  These processes are often used on specialty foods, wine and high-end retail packaging to denote an exceptional level of quality.

Hot foil stamping is a dry printing process in which color pigments or metallic foil is transferred from a continuous roll to the label using heat and pressure.  Hot stamping and holographic foils are made up of several layers.  These include a polyester carrier, a release layer, a number of lacquer, image and metal layers, and an outer adhesive-sizing layer.  During the hot foil stamping, a heated die forces the foil against the substrate, which is supported by a counter-plate or counter-cylinder.  A combination of this pressure and the activation of the adhesive allows the foil to attach itself to the substrate, a process that is aided by the melting of the release layer.  The dies used in hot foil stamping are predominantly made from brass and are produced by etching or by engraving.

Hot Foil Stamping

The foils can be a solid color, metallic (gold, silver or copper), refractive or holographic.  The process is used on a wide range of products to create decorative finishes and anti-counterfeiting measures.  In the packaging industry the applications include food, pharmacy, tobacco, and luxury goods packaging, as well as labels for products such as wine and spirits.  Beyond packaging, hot foil stamping is extensively used on banknotes, greetings cards and throughout commercial print.

Cold Foil is a fast growing technology that allows printers to apply foil onto a substrate.  Cold foil transfer is a process in which aluminum, transported on a metalized polyester carrier, is applied on a label substrate without the use of heat.  Adhesive is first printed on the substrate,; the metalized coating of the polyester carrier is then transferred only to the areas where the adhesive has been applied.

This inline process is a new technology that allows manufacturers to apply metallic foil and print over it at press speed.  This gives the ability to lay down foil and print over it to produce brilliant metallic effects with an infinite spectrum of colors.  With the huge advances in foils, label manufacturers can print fine lines, reverse outs, half tones and full tones, all in accurate register.

Cast & Cure is a decorative coating process that integrates “casting” and “curing” techniques to create holographic, ultra high gloss, or matte finishes on select areas of a printed piece and is suitable for a wide variety of substrates.  The process lays down the UV coating and then applies a specialty film that incorporates a micro-embossed holographic pattern within the film.  With the film lying over the coated sheet, the coating is cured and the film is stripped away, leaving the holographic pattern on the sheet.  The film is reusable for multiple applications.


Cast & Cure is an ideal application for the decorative print market and can be incorporated with anti-counterfeiting features for brand security applications.  Options in design are endless and the process can support a myriad of end-use markets, including cosmetics, wine labeling, health & beauty packaging, among many others.

Topics: Specialty Lamination Hot Foil Cast & Cure cold foil
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