Here at the Embellishing Group, we’re all about leaving a great impression. We believe that truly great print should be more than just ink on paper. The quality of your printed material reflects your brand or business, and so we think it’s vital to give your customers something different, something memorable.
We humans are tactile animals. The tips of our fingers are filled with nerve endings, making us highly sensitive to texture. When handing a business card to a potential client, or when a customer picks up your brochure, a three dimensional texture is a strong sensual stimulant. This is where ‘embossing and ‘debossing’ come into their own as printing techniques.
Feel the Quality
Last month, in our article about duplexing and triplexing, we touched on the subject of embossing. This time round, we’re going to take a more in-depth look into embossing and its sister method, debossing, and show how these techniques can be used to enhance a person’s experience of your printed material.
Embossing and debossing are most easily explained as impressing or depressing an image or text onto a sheet of paper or card. The image or text is therefore raised above or pushed below the normal level of the paper, created a three dimensional effect. This method serves to create contrast of light and shade, making the text or image really stand out to the eye as well as to the touch.
The Science Behind the Art
Firstly, let’s look at how these two results are achieved. The main tools needed are a press, a die, a counterdie, and of course the material to be printed on.
Here, we start with two metal plates, which are known as the ‘die’ and ‘counterdie’. Your selected image or text is then etched into the die, and onto the counterdie, using specialist engraving tools and compounds. These dies are made to ‘mate’ perfectly together.
Once you have selected the paper or card, it’s placed into the press, between the die and counterdie. We recommend using medium weight stocks when embossing or debossing.
The die goes on top and the counterdie goes underneath, for embossing. The clamping machine then uses a combination of high pressure and heat to squeeze the card between the two dies, leaving your text permanently imprinted. Your chosen text or image is therefore ‘raised’ above the card, standing out.
With embossing, the back of your card will also show the indentation of the text, in reverse. If this isn’t part of the effect that you want to achieve, the indentations at the back can be covered up using the technique of duplexing, which we discussed in the last article.
Debossing is basically the opposite of embossing, with a couple of small changes. Here, only one die is used, the counterdie. The couterdie is squeezed against the top side of the card using the same press with its high pressure and heat, creating an indentation of your selected image. If your card is thick enough, this mark won’t show up on the back side of the piece.
Add a Splash of Colour…
When this method is used without ink or foil being added, the result is know as ‘blind’ embossing or debossing. The effect is subtle and elegant, with the play of light and shade being sufficient to give your image texture and draw the eye.
If you’d fancy a touch of colour, however, we’re happy to help. By adding ink you can colour match your branding or logo on your embossed business cards or brochures. By adding colour to the inside of the die before pressing, the result is a raised image or text in the colour of your choice.
When it comes to debossing, the counter die is covered with ink, so that the indented image emerges ‘filled’ with colour, while maintaining its three dimensional texture.
… Or Even a Touch of Gold.
A very common way of using embossing and debossing is to combine with foiling. To achieve this effect, a foil is applied using the same technique as traditional foiling. When the card is pressed for embossing or debossing, the foil is stuck into the indentation or on top of the ridges of your image, giving your card a truly opulent dimension.
A Printing Technique to Fit your Every Need
At the Embellishing group, we like to feel that we can achieve whatever your printing vision may be. Whether it be embossing, debossing, duplexing, triplexing or any combination of a whole range of clever printing techniques that your needs require, we have you covered.
We make print that will get noticed for all the right reasons. The textural contrast of an embossed business card will make people want to touch it, and what could be more memorable than that?
Next month, in the fifth article in our ‘Methods of Achieving Beautiful Print’ series, we’ll look at some of the beautiful effects that can be achieved with the process of Hot Foiling.
We look forward to seeing you there!