Foil stamping, also known as block printing, hot stamping, dry stamping, or leaf stamping, is a method of printing that releases foil from its backing when stamped with the heated die. Foil stamping is typically a commercial print process. The foil used is a special film-backed material, and it is applied to paper. A heated die is then stamped onto the foil, making it adhere to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper. Foil stamping can be combined with embossing to create a more striking three-dimensional image.
The most common type of foil stamping is flat stamping. It is relatively simple and very cost effective compared to other types of foil stamping. In flat stamping, the foil is transferred onto the substrate using a flat stamp that is usually made of magnesium or copper. The finished result is a foil stamp that is only very slightly raised on the original surface. If you want a more raised look with flat foil stamping, you can do another stamp with an embossing die that will give the flat foil stamp new dimensions.
Foil stamping as we practice it today grew out of a much older practice – from the Middle Ages and with roots even in Ancient Egypt – of applying very thin beat gold by hand as decoration to precious objects. Starting in the 19th century the process was simplified by using rolls of gold leaf paper, applied with heat to printing surfaces. In the 20th century, because of the cost of gold leaf, other types of metallic foils came into use, giving us the foil stamping process we use today.