News From the Foil Stamping Front
by Tatyana Sinioukov
The foil stamping industry has been enjoying a quiet year, it seems. Some changes that are worth mentioning, however, include an apparent increase in use of hot stamping foils for books and the emergence of several new products and processes.
More than ever, stamping foils come in a wide variety of colors, finishes and effects: from marble, snake skin, imitation leather, pearls, wood grains and geometric patterns to holograms, pigments, metallics and tints, offering book designers endless creative possibilities.
"The cost of foil has come down considerably over the last two years, too, and that makes a big difference," reveals Stewart Glazer, vice president of sales and marketing, Crown Roll Leaf, Paterson, NJ. The availability of wider embossing equipment (36 to 50'), says Glazer, and reduced cost of such raw material as polyester, have lowered the overall cost of foil stamping.
"It's been our experience that people are making an effort to put more added value on book covers, particularly books that have a niche market, like children's books," Glazer comments. Also, he says, lately, holography and diffraction gratings are used on adult soft- and hardcovers more often than in the past.
In the publishing industry in general, says Brian Monaghan, president of International Holographic Papers (IHP), Glenside, PA, which stocks holographic paper and paperboard grades and manufactures holograms and plates, there is a stronger demand for holographic paper and board.Monaghan says that some publishers, bitten by the millennium bug, are now contacting him regarding using holograms on their book covers because they want to do something "technologically advanced, collectable and eye-catching." Monaghan recalls the famous holographic cover of the National Geographic, done about a decade ago. People often ask for a similar look, he says, which, since the technology has advanced so much, is now easier to reproduce.
Monaghan also notes the increase in using holograms on paperback covers. "With the cost of holographic paper coming down so dramatically," he offers, "it is more economical in a lot of situations to mask out the hologram with printing inks and just let the hologram shine through in certain areas than it would be to foil stamp."
"We've been making more holograms for book covers in the past year and a half than we have in the past three years," says Glazer. That's good news for publishers who are facing the issue of returns, he explains, since, with the reduced cost of technology, it is now possible to manufacture more of them and still make a profit.
Another trend, according to Richard Zeller, product manager at Foilmark, Newburyport, MA, is overprinting done with four-color transparent inks on top of foil. Zeller also observes an increase in use of the rotary hot stamping process and diffraction and edge-guilding foils.
Monaghan adds to the list the implementation of digital technologies in manufacturing holograms for the book industry. Where a typical hologram or foil stamping process would involve one to seven days to produce a 6 x 6' hologram master, he says, with digital technologies, it is possible to produce a 30 x 40' one in a matter of hours. The whole process is faster, he notes, and renders perfect registration. Typically, in the past, he says, to make a hologram, one had to make a small prototype conventionally and then copy and repeat it to create a pattern. With digital technologies, all that can be done electronically, saving both time and money.
All three companies have new products. Within the last year, Crown Roll Leaf has come up with Retail Vision, a combination of hologram and surface-diffracting design which works in any lighting conditions, even the fluorescent lighting usually found in retail stores.
Crown, says Glazer, is also in the process of creating new kinds of holographic effects that combine stereograms and surface-diffracting images. A stereogram, as described by Jim Kingsby, president of JK Hot Stamping Consulting, Olathe, KS, is a "movie inside a hologram--" a sequence of images recorded on film, video, or created with computer graphics.
Foilmark now offers foils with printed patterns that imitate picture frames, says Zeller. According to John Halotek, sales and marketing manager for the holographic packaging division of Foilmark, the company also developed holographic Print-to-Register technology which allows printers to enhance their graphics by registering print to pre-designed diffraction graphics. Print-to-Register, he says, was used in the design of the Godzilla video box distributed in Canada.
IHP recently introduced seamless sheets of holographic paper. Traditionally, sheets of printed holograms, Monaghan explains, have seam lines where the pattern breaks--every 6 to 12'. The seamless sheets of holographic paper are manufactured from rolls that have pattern breaks only every 40' or so.
However one is striving to have a design jump off the book pages, incorporating hot stamping foils can add style, dimension, impact and, ultimately, quality to a book cover. Zeller advises designers to try various types of foils to complement and accent the standard gold and silver foils. Monaghan advises them to ask vendors for samples early in the process in order to eliminate surprises along the road. He also recommends using a reputable holographer, preferably a member of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), who follows the copyright guidelines and is knowledgeable.
The Foil Stamping and Embossing Association (FSEA) offers a Designer's Guide to Foil Stamping and Embossing for $15 to FSEA members and $20 for non-members (plus shipping and handling). Also available from FSEA is a Pantone® Foil Selector, which includes over 100 hot stamping foil colors for specifying and purchasing by the graphic arts professionals. For more information or to order, contact FSEA at 503-331-6221, or visit www.fsea.com.