Foiling for Print

Have you ever wondered how some cup sleeves feature metallic, shiny logos and text? That’s foil stamping, also known as foiling – a subtle but beautiful way to enhance printed designs.

At Cup Sleeve Printing, foiling can be added to your print run via digital foiling or hot foil stamping, but what’s the difference? Here’s a quick guide to both methods and which one offers the best option for your print requirements.


Digital Foiling

If you’re looking for a faster turnaround and/or a lower price tag, digital foiling is the way to go, especially for cup sleeves. This method simply requires a digital artwork file, which tells the digital foil machine where to ‘print’ the foil onto the paper, including the cup sleeves.

The pros of digital foiling:

Cost-effective for shorter print runs. If you’re only looking to add foil to a small-quantity order, digital foiling is the more economical option, including for cup sleeves. There’s not much point in spending the extra money for a hot foil die if you’ll only be using it for a small number of items. With digital foiling, you can achieve a similar effect without the higher upfront cost.

Quicker production times. If you haven’t got time to wait for a die block to be assembled, digital foiling offers a much faster turnaround, even for cup sleeves, making it an ideal option for last-minute print runs. With digital foiling, you can skip the die-making process, which can take time and delay your print job, and go straight to adding the foil to your design.

The cons of digital foiling:

Requires lamination. For digital foiling to achieve a good result, a laminated surface is generally needed, even for cup sleeves. Obviously, this won’t be a problem if you were planning on adding lamination anyway. Still, if you’re after a more natural finish, you’re limited to either matt lamination or soft touch lamination to maintain the foil’s quality. These lamination options can provide a subtle finish that complements the foil design while maintaining a natural look and feel.

Limited presentation quality. While digital foiling still looks great, including on cup sleeves, it can’t achieve quite the same level of presentation as hot foil stamping. Unlike hot foil stamping, which de-bosses the foil into the paper, digital foil sits on the surface of the print. This means it won’t catch the light as well as hot foil, although the difference is relatively minor. Hot foil stamping provides a more luxurious and impressive finish, making it an excellent choice for high-end products or branding.

digital foiling on print
Digital foiling at Better Printing

Hot foil stamping

If you’re after premium foiling quality, especially for cup sleeves, hot foil stamping is the choice for you. This method uses a press that is loaded with a unique custom-made die, the paper product to be foil-stamped, and a sheet of foil which sits in between the two.

The die plate is heated up, then pressed onto the foil and printed item. Only the areas of the foil which come into contact with the die are transferred onto the paper, resulting in a deeply impressed and precise foil design. Hot foil stamping provides a luxurious finish that is perfect for high-end products or branding.

However, it’s important to note that hot foil stamping requires an additional fee for the assembly of your foiling die, which will vary depending on the size of the area you’re looking to foil on your printed items. This extra cost may not be ideal if you’re only after a small quantity of foil-stamped items, but it can be a more cost-effective option for larger print runs.

brass die block for foiling
Custom brass die block for foiling
rolls of coloured foils
Coloured hot stamping foils

The pros of hot foil stamping:

More professional results. Hot foiling offers finer detailing, making it ideal for rendering small and/or thin text on cup sleeves, and the stamping process slightly de-bosses the foiled elements, giving them a subtly enhanced shimmer under the light. This makes hot foil stamping an excellent choice for high-end products or branding where attention to detail is essential.

Moreover, hot foil stamping is more economical for longer print runs. While it may be the more expensive option for small-quantity orders, the cost quickly balances out if you’re looking to print a large batch of items. The larger the print run, the more cost-effective hot foil stamping becomes, as the per-unit cost of the foiling dies and setup is spread out over a larger number of items.

The cons of hot foil stamping:

Increased production times. It’s important to note that setting up a hot foil job takes longer due to the production time needed to create the die block, which makes it less suitable for last-minute orders. If you’re making an urgent order at the last minute, you’re better off going with digital foiling, which offers a faster turnaround.

However, whatever your choice may be, Cup Sleeve Printing can provide both digital foiling and hot foil stamping in-house from our Southampton print factory – so there’s no need to worry about extra outsourcing costs. This means that we can guarantee the quality of your cup sleeve print job and provide a fast turnaround time to meet your needs.

Hot foil stamping machine
Hot foil stamping machine

If you have any additional questions about any type of foiling then call us on 023 8087 8037 or email us.

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