Hot Foil and Cold Foil Printing: What’s the Difference?

With SKU proliferation and more brands cropping up on a daily basis, the battle to stand out on the shelf has never been fiercer. Brands have just 4-6 seconds to make an impact on shoppers, so catching their eye is crucial. In an attempt to make an impression on consumers, brands have a host of embellishment technologies at their disposal.

Utilizing foil is one popular method for converters in their attempt to boost a brand. But in order to help your products stand out on crowded shelves, it’s important to understand the differences between hot foil and cold foil.

While these processes are not necessarily complex, working with the right partner can make all the difference. Flexographic cold foil printing involves printing an image onto a substrate – by means of a standard printing plate – with the aid of a UV-curable cold foil adhesive. A UV dryer then activates and cures the adhesive. The extracted foil is affixed to the printed adhesive, thus creating an image. The excess foil is then trimmed away. Because excess foil is removed during the process, designers should be conscious of the amount of detail portrayed on the image.

This process is effective with most standard equipment on the market today, and it is simpler and faster than hot stamping.

Hot foil, on the other hand, combines pressure and heat to generate the label. In this process, a metallic foil is adhered to an engraved plate, and then the heated plate is pressed against the label material with dry ink in between. The design of the plate is subsequently imprinted on the label material.

Since cold foil printing offers greater flexibility and is often more cost-effective, the process lends itself to any number of brands – both big and small – looking to make an impact on the shelf. Startup brands looking to convey luxury without breaking the bank would be well served to look into cold foil printing; brand with products such as household consumables, wine, beer, spirits, and cosmetic packaging.

cold foil dummies book

Foil figures to see even more adoption in the future, with a functional use outside of attractive aesthetics; counterfeit prevention. Metallic substrates with holographic effects are often chosen because they are difficult to copy. With the boom in e-commerce and counterfeiting reaching record levels, foiling presents an opportunity to help safeguard brands. According to Fortune Business Insights, the anti-counterfeit market is expected to reach a market size of 189.9 billion USD by 2026, with the 7.8% CAGR. When looking to immerse yourself in the world of cold foil printing, collaboration is often key.

K Laser Technology’s J. Michael Rivera has authored GO COLD, Handbook for Cold Foil Printing, and Cold Foil for Dummies. Contact the experts today to get started on your cold foil journey. Our team will partner with you to achieve cold foil printing success.