embossing with PP plates

Has anyone done embossing with Photo-polymer plates? What did you use for your counter? Did the plate hold up? How many impressions should a person be able to get out of a PP plate when using them for printing? Has anyone used PP plates for foil stamping? The video at the end makes it look so easy, but most foils release at 230-260 F, so I don’t think these plates will work:

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I bought all my foil business cards from West Texas Printing, they used some kind of poly plates for their foil stamping, they could deliver to me 500 foiled cards for just a few dollars more than a mag die would cost me. don’t know about embossing with poly.

I have to admit having been there and regretted it
I was attempting a raised image less than 1”x1/2” ,
the material in question was an extremely hard ivory board at 300gsm , it was to proof a test ,it did raise the board but it looked horrible ….
the counter was built up with blotting and body filler a nasty combination for the impatient but we wanted dry and hard quickly ,as i said a proof . There are combination sets of metal and poly dies one being the poly is usually the male component . they work well ,you cotton bashers should have no problem with them ,i dont know if you will get better results than i did with softer materials such as cotton and other furry papers , Not correct terminology but if you handle offset gloss for days on end when you get hold of anything pulpy it feels wierd and so delightfully weightless!

Hi Dick,

Unless things have somehow dratically changed, I think that foil stamping dies have to be heated-up to get the foil to release onto the stock, so I can’t even fathom how plastic photopolymer would not melt when heated up that much.

I’d love to hear if it is now possible to use PP plates to do foil stamping.

The type used in most foil stamping machines (Kingsley, etc.) is not common foundry or Monotype, but a special alloy that make it harder than common type simply so it will hold up under the heat. Brass type is also used in commercial foil stamping machines for the same reason.


Rick, i have been foil stamping for about 20 years now, i know they were using some kind of poly plates at Texas, i have always used mag of copper dies myself. I worked for a company back in the early 1980s that used a plate made by dupont called dycril, i have a couple here, they were like an early poly plate, they would make a mold from them and cast a thick rubber plate from the mold which were used to print corrugated boxes. i make rubber stamps and make some poly stamps, i have tried my poly to foil and you are right they melt and make a mess. I never saw anyone foil from polymer but i’m sure it can be done i just don’t know what kind of poly you need to use.

If your stamping temp is about 200 F, a ‘rubber stamp’ polymer certainly works for one off or short runs. I haven’t done it for a while. When I did I mounted it on pieces of blind material which carried the heat to the ca. 1/8” thick photopolymer. If nothing else, extend the dwell.

The same extended dwell allows foil stamping with a small wood cut, perhaps also wood type.

There have definitely been low-heat-tolerant grades of photopolymer intended for flexo- or rubberstamp-molding, lower-level foil-stamping (flat embossing could be a cold application of the same hard durometer plates). That is exactly where Miraclon/Rigilon were marketed, though I used them as printing plates. Apparently, they haven’t been made since the Fukushima disaster. My old supplier Gene Becker has switched to Torelief from Miraclon/Rigilon, and all the information that used to be on their website for these other uses has disappeared.

Girl with a Kluge

A couple of my students have been experimenting with an etching press for deep blind embossing and recently getting some remarkable 3-D effects. Basic ingredients other than the press itself are soft cushy Lettra (originally made for embossing way back when) or similar, a thin photopolymer plate (with adhesive film underlay), and varied makeready (both soft and hard). A reverse that covers the entirety of the page size with image raised really pops this (basically reverse debossing). No counter plate required.


Japanese woodblock printmakers made embossed images by carving into a woodblock in reverse and in relief, and used their elbows to press the back of the paper into the carved area.

RE: Stamping

I want to rehash this for my own sake and for posterity so others can know. I recently got a hot foil stamper that I set up with an aluminum plate to hold dies/plates.

I was really hoping to use steel backed photopolymer for the stamping and I’ve tested it along with plastic backed photopolymer. Neither one melts, however they seem to do a poor job releasing the foil. It could be my heating element, but since that thing gets screaming hot I don’t think that’s the problem. Steel backed did better than the plain photopolymer (which seemed to fill in and not make an crisp print).

I’ve tested at a variety of temperatures (100-300F), and nowhere do they seem to be consistent. Every once and a while I could get a clean, even, solid stamp but I could never figure out why it would randomly work for five or six prints and then never again no matter how I adjusted. Usually somewhere between 225 and 250 F. I tested a variety of papers, the impression was even, but the foil release was not. The foil was rated to release at about 250 F.

I think the photopolymer plates that are used with hot foil are aluminum backed (because it’s more conductive than an alloy like steel). I’ve read that is the case, but I’m not sure where to get alum. backed plates or what they’re called. I’ve also read that there are low temp and high temp photopolymer and that if the machine doesn’t reach over 350 F the high temp plates wont work.

I just today found some old mag dies I used back in Minneapolis. I will test with those and if they print well, I will know once and for all that steel backed/plastic backed photopolymer does not work well, and that a different photopolymer plate is what many commercial places are using.

It is possible that my old stamper just isn’t keeping a consistent temperature or that the double stick adhesive I am using is interfering in some way. The Mag die will hopefully tell and then I can confirm or deny.

Poly Plate in general can’t do the impression of Foilstamping as eg is usually done with Mag dies.
The Polyplate for Foil is specialy formulated, so the run of the mill stuff you use for printing can’t be used.