Engraving is the process by which text or an image is first etched by machine or hand onto a copper or steel die. This die is then used to stamp the sheet, pushing the surface of the paper or card up, creating a raised image to the front. Intense pressure is used simultaneously with the application of ink, creating a raised image or text in the chosen ink colour.
This historical printing process was the first method used to create a raised image, and now has largely been replaced by thermography. However, due to the pressure used in the process of die-stamping (over a ton per square inch) fine lines are more genuinely reproduced than by thermography, so die stamping is often considered superior. The necessity of a metal die makes small runs relatively expensive compared with thermography. There is a varying visible indentation to the back of the sheet depending on the stock and machine minder.
Although dies are seldom made by hand anymore, Gee Brothers is one of a few remaining specialist printers offering a hand-engraving service for wedding invitations.
Lithography is the method used in most fine printing today. It creates a cleaner image than any other method of printing and the process that has enabled fine art to be reproduced authentically in full colour. It is based on the principle that oil does not mix with water, and the minimum of water, pressure and ink will create a perfect image. A plate has to be made for each colour used. These used to be metal, but to a large extent, these have been replaced by synthetic ones.
Created as an economical alternative to die stamping/engraving where the printed area is raised from the printed sheet. The thermography process is an add-on to lithography or letterpress and does not involve making a die. While the ink is still wet, a resin is applied to the printed sheet. The resin is then removed except where it has adhered to the wet ink. The sheet is then heated for a crucial period which is just enough to soften the resin without it melting over the edges of the image, although it always does to some extent. The finished result can be almost as good as die stamping to the tutored eye, and just as good to the untutored. Since there is no pressure exerted to the back of the sheet, there is no noticeable mark here.
Our thermography differs to other printers’; as we are always trying to emulate the fineness of die stamping. We encourage you to request a sample from us to discover just how good a result we are able to achieve.
Create depth and texture with letterpress printing. For the very best results ask for our soft-finish card by G.F. Smith, available in a range of stocked card colours. This type of card lends itself extremely well to the letterpress process as it allows for the pressure mark (debossing) that has become so popular.
Foiling or block foiling
Foiling is used to create an opaque image to a sheet, and is usually associated with metallic finishes, as gold and silver inks are never truly shiny or metallic in appearance, whereas foil creates a real metallic effect. A die is made from either your ready-to-print artwork or that created by Gee Brothers. Using heat and pressure, the die applies the foil to the card or paper, and depending on how much pressure is used, can result in the image being debossed, depending on the stock used. In some cases you might expect to see a pressure mark on the reverse side of the sheet.
Blind embossing is the process by which text or an image is stamped using a metal die, pushing the surface of the paper or card up, creating a raised image to the front. Although very similar to engraving/die-stamping the blind-embossing process is done without any ink. This way of embossing is popular on wedding stationery and is often used to emboss the initials to the cover of wedding invitations, menus and service sheets. It can be applied to almost any type of stationery.