The Process Of Embossing

What is Embossing?

The Process of Embossing

Types of Embossing

Uses of Embossing


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The process of embossing is extremely simple and cost effective. It is one of the cheapest ways to enhance the look and feel of any surface be it paper, cloth or metal even. There are several things that need to be attended to in an embossing project. The metal dies to be used, the surface to be used, the creation of the artwork and the embossing details of course. 

Types Of Metal Embossing Dies

There are three types of metals that are used for embossing dies. Depending on the shape of the image, the texture to be created and the length of the run you can select the metal.

  • Magnesium dies are used for easy embossing projects that have short runs. The designs are large and uncomplicated. Magnesium also allows for special hand tooling.
  • Brass dies are the most popular embossing dies. They are very flexible and give the embosser leeway to create fine lines, sculptured images, combo foil stamping and embossing. They are also very good for images requiring extensive hand tooling. You can make brass dies by machines or by a semi-photographic process. The photograph is transferred onto the die to use as a guide for drawing.
  • Copper dies are used as an in between to magnesium and brass. However copper dies do not permit hand tooling.

Choosing The Right Paper For Embossing

Paper textures play an important role in embossing. Sometimes clients select a texture paper and use embossing to smooth out the paper where it is least expected. At other time a smooth paper is used but the emboss is textured for a stunning finish.

Heavy, long fibered sheets make the best kind of paper for embossing. Lightweight, heavy coated or varnished papers are not good for embossing because they crack easily. Also recycled paper is to be avoided for embossing. In general the more processed a paper is the weaker it becomes and cannot withstand the pressures of embossing.

The depth and the degree of bevel achieved are determined by the stock. A thicker stock can offer more dramatic embossing effects because the impression can push deeper into the paper and varying levels of relief become possible.

Preparing The Art Work For Embossing

It is very important to keep the following things in mind when preparing art for embossing.

  • Avoid too many fine details and tiny criss cross lines. Keep the design uncluttered and bold.
  • When using lettering use sans serif fonts and space them so that there is enough space between each letter to allow for the embossing effect.
  • Increase the size of the art slightly to compensate for the added dimension.
  • For multi level embossing it is best to use color codes to indicate the various levels.
  • Keep the image area at least .25 inches away from the edge of an oversized sheet to avoid puckering or wrinkling. If the embossing is being done on a finished project, keep a .5 margin.

The Processes

There are different types of embossing processes that can be used.

In one type of process, the embossing dies come into contact with the wet pulp or damp paper under high pressure. This creates a raised surface. One way of embossing paper is to place the selected die directly onto a freshly pulled sheet and let the sheet dry on the mould. However, it is far more common and effective to impress an item into the sheet under pressure.

Another method of embossing involves using ready-made paper and running it through a printing press. The paper is dampened and pressed against a block or plate prepared by the embosser. Handmade, machine made and mouldmade papers all withstand this technique gracefully with fantastic embossing effects.

Thus, embossing is a fairly simple process that takes elegance to new heights.

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