All About Thermographic Printing

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There’s a variety of printing techniques out there, some are more forgotten than others and we feel Thermographic printing is one of them.

Thermography is the process of using thermographic resin powder and heat to give each project it’s distinct, raised text.

On the face of it, the finished product with  the process looks similar to traditional embossing, with subtle, raised letters providing a textured finish. Indeed this is why it was created in the first place, to be used as a quicker process and more cost effective alternative to engraving or die stamping.

It is a rather straightforward process that can be effective when used but also has some restrictions that you must be aware of.

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To start, you print the ink down much the same as if you were printing with lithography. You then apply the thermographic resin powder to the sheet which then sticks to the wet ink. The powder applied is usually clear in order for the raised areas of the paper to take the same colour as the ink. Excess powder is then removed from the sheet, if it remains then you will end up with sheet covered in resin spots & blemishes after the heat is applied.

You then pass the sheet through the heated element of the press with temperatures ranging from 480 to 705 Celsius. This stage roughly takes 3 seconds to pass through, in this time, the resin powder melts and hardens to give the feeling of a raised texture when touched giving you the finished piece of stationery.

This process is most commonly used for corporate stationery and business cards in particular. The clues that show you that the process has been used are:

1) The print often has a glossy finish - that comes from the melted thermographic resin powder.

2) There will be no impression on the reverse of the paper/card - when an item has been die stamped or embossed, this marking is evident.

3) If you have a larger area of thermographic printing or a particularly bold type - you will tend to notice a dimpled, orange peel texture to the finish.

4) Metallics. We recommend staying away from this process if you want to print a metallic shade, gold will tend to look like a mustard yellow and silver will look grey. You should look at engraving or foil blocking if you want these.

5) Not all papers and cards will react well to the process, if you're material is uncoated and overly pouros, then the ink/resin can be soaked into the stock and give you a patchy, weak result.

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As engravers & die stampers at heart, we will always prefer to see the true techniques used, but if you have a tight budget and not the time required to use the master processes, then thermography could be a good solution for you. If you want to see how this could be used for your project, please get in touch.