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Toner foiling vs hot foil stamping

The popularity of toner foiling has skyrocketed in recent times with the availability of both compact desktop machines and larger commercial-grade machines. This has led to an increased interest in alternative methods of achieving a foiled effect, but there is a lot of confusion regarding the different types of foils and the capabilities of each process. Lets dive in!

What is Toner Foiling?

Toner foiling, also known as laser foiling, foil fusing, sublimation foiling, and foil sleeking, is a type of printing that uses a laser printer to apply a special metallic or pigment foil to a surface. The process works by fusing a specialized adhesive coating that reacts with the toner.

Toner foiling is a cost-effective solution for small, one-time projects and is suitable for various types of projects, including those with small to medium details and large solid areas.

The toner foiling process

Getting started with toner foiling requires a few key items: special toner foils, a toner foiling machine or an appropriate laminator, a printer, and paper.

It's important to note that regular foils cannot be used for toner foiling, and specialized reactive toner foils are necessary. Begin by printing your design on a suitable paper, such as smooth and semi-coated materials that are not too absorbent as they can impact the foiling results.

If using a laminator, cut a piece of foil and place it over the printed page. Then run the page through the laminator, where the heat and pressure from the roller will activate the foil and make it adhere to the toner on the page. The exact process may vary depending on the type of machine used.


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What type of printer is the best for toner foiling?

Older laser printers are ideal for toner foiling because they use higher levels of toner. Newer printers, on the other hand, often have eco modes that use less toner, which can affect the foiling process. The foil may not adhere as well to the toner, resulting in a less solid final product. Additionally, inkjet printers and wax-based inks are not compatible with toner foiling as the foil will not stick to these materials.

How does it differ from hot foil stamping?

Hot foil stamping involves using a custom metal die, a hot foil stamping machine, and hot foil. To create each design, a separate die must be made and positioned on a heater plate in the press. Finding the right temperature, pressure, and dwell time to produce the perfect impression can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, taking hours to complete.

On the other hand, toner foiling offers faster results by applying foil directly onto toner. There's no need for custom dies, and setup times are minimal.

Advantages of Toner Foiling:

  • No custom dies required
  • Allows for customization with each use
  • Flexibility in changing foil colors without additional set-up or compatibility concerns
  • Produces a smooth, flat finish, unlike hot foil stamping that leaves an imprint
  • Quick and simple to use with no experience necessary
  • Safe and easy to operate without big machinery
  • No precise registration needed

Disadvantages of Toner Foiling:

  • More expensive than traditional hot foil stamping foils
  • Less control over the final result
  • Not as cost-effective for longer runs
  • Quality of toner and foils can be inconsistent
  • The finish quality is sometimes not as good as hot foil stamping
  • Printer and toner cartridges can be costly
  • Not suitable for intricate designs, as hot foil stamping offers more control over the finish
  • Hot foil stamping provides access to a wider range of finishes and embellishments, such as embossing/debossing.

In conclusion, toner foiling offers several advantages and is a great option for certain applications. However, it should not be considered a complete replacement for hot foil stamping. Toner foiling is ideal for proofing a job or small amount jobs in a short timeframe.

Are you a patient person? Then join me on a foiling journey using the Heidi Swapp Minc Machine!

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