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Printing Lingo: What does "Embossing" mean?

This mouse photo was Embossed for a 3D look and also to provide texture to the fur

In the printing industry, Embossing refers to a method of pressing an image into paper or cardstock to create a three dimensional design. Text, logos and other images can all be formed by the embossing method. Embossing results in a raised surface, with the design higher than the surrounding paper area. A similar but less common technique is Debossing. Debossing results in a depressed surface, with the design lower than the surrounding paper area.

The Process.

The embossing and debossing procedures involve the use of two metal dies - one has a raised surface on it and the other has a mating surface recessed into it. The two dies fit into one another. A paper sheet is placed between the two dies and then heat and pressure are applied to squeeze the raised die into the recessed die. Similar to being pressed by an iron, the paper fibers permanently reshape to take on the intended design.

Practical Applications.

Embossing provides a look of high quality and elegance, so you will often see embossing on pieces that aim to impress - presentation folders, business cards, invitations, certificates, brochure covers. Embossing can create further distinction when used in conjunction with metallic foil or a spot UV coating. The image area can also be pre-printed before being embossed to provide an interesting 3D effect.

Blind Embossing creates the design without the use of ink or foil

What is Blind Embossing?

It is very common for a design to be embossed without using any printing or foiling in the design. This is known as Blind Embossing. In lieu of ink or foil, the embossing process alone creates the text or design on the paper. A very simple example of blind embossing is the seal applied to documents by a Notary Public.

A smooth Embossed design stands out against its textured background

Textured paper is commonly used for Blind Embossing because the process not only raises the design, it also provides the option of pressing the paper smooth where it is embossed. This provides additional contrast against the textured area surrounding the embossed design.

If you would like to learn more about the distinctive appearance and effectiveness of Embossing, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to assisting you.

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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