A Quick Guide to Embossing Printed Labels on Rolls
Embossing uses heat and custom dies to give a distinctive appearance to a label. Both male and female dies are applied to the label (one on each side), and heat and pressure then give a raised 3-D texture.
Embossed labels can have either raised text or images, or they can have a complex texture to all or part of the surface.
To better understand how this process of creating embossed labels works, think of the last time you picked up a paperback book with raised, 3-D lettering on the cover. If you looked at the back of the card cover, you would see the same design, in reverse of course, lowered down from the surface. The ‘rear’ indentation is where the ‘male’ die is pressed into the surface in printing. A corresponding ‘female’ die, with a hollow almost exactly the same size and shape carved into it, presses back from the ‘front’ side. If you wished to have a ‘debossed’ or ‘reverse embossed’ image, the male and female dies would be reversed – or rather the paper or label would be flipped over.
Embossing in Register (EIR), AKA Combination Embossing
This process is so common that many people think all embossing is ‘embossing in register’. Here, the embossing dies are crafted to fit a printed, foil blocked or otherwise illustrated image exactly. (This is what is typically done on paperback book covers in the example above). The result is a detailed image, gold-foil lettering, or other design that is raised up above the label or paper surface.
‘Combination embossing’ refers specifically to raising up an image that has already been stamped in foil.
Relief embossing combines blind embossing and hot foil stamping. This means that the material is formed multi-dimensionally at the desired position using an embossing tool and then additionally finished with a hot foil. This deformation can be either positive (upwards) or negative (downwards).