Foil stamping your paper

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Bobbyq, May 8, 2007.

  1. Bobbyq

    Bobbyq New Member

    I was at a Diecutting / Foil stamping Expo recently and I came across a machine that will foil stamp your design without any dies.

    The unit I saw was the “FT-10 Foil Fuser” put out by THERM-O-TYPE Corp.
    The way it works is, if you print using toner, the foil will stick to the toner.
    So in essence if you printed a pattern in ink then printed the parts you wanted foiled in toner you can have specific areas foiled.

    The first thing that came to mind when I saw this was the P-51 Mustang.
    I could make it look real silver with the foil stamping.
    And by printing the background in black and then masking in toner, I could make the lines and rivets show up in black.

    When I was there I took a few sheets over to them that I had printed out to see how well it would do.
    I wanted to see how small of a hole in the foiled area I could have. I found that if the hole is less then .25mm in diameter it could fill it up, but later you could scratch the foil away to revile the hole.

    The only real big con about it is the cost.
    At the show it was running around $2,000 US.:(
    But as I was talking to the exhibitor and stating that 2,000 is just not feasible for someone who may only run 12 or so pages a year.
    He said that if you contact them they might be able to find a user who has that capability around your area.

    I hope this is some useful information for those looking to put a shine into your models.8)
  2. thewoodengraver

    thewoodengraver Active Member

    Very interesting idea! Thanx for that! I have been toying with this idea...sort of...

    I want to inlay aluminum foil, silver foil and gold leaf. My technique involves scoring the inlay area and removing 1 layer of paper from the cardstock, then applying the inlay. I have been impatient and have not yet done this successfully...

    We could all pitch-in and buy it as a community problem if you want to keep it at my house! lol
  3. MOS95B

    MOS95B Member

    A less expensive alternative I have yet to try might be the gold/silver/bronze leaf you can get at craft stores. Has anyone tried this yet?

    If I could afford 2 grand, I'd love one of those printers, though.
  4. k5083

    k5083 Member

    Once upon a time, like around 1990, most businesses of any size had copiers and laser printers that printed in black, but ones that printed in color were too expensive, and color inkjet printing was not yet ready for business applications. For those who wanted to jazz up their documents with a little color, some other solution was needed.

    To address this need, a product was invented in which a sheet of color transfer film could be overlaid on a piece of plain paper and, when subjected to heat of a certain temperature, it would adhere to black toner previously deposited on the paper by a copier or laser printer, but not to the white areas. The heat could be applied either by running the previously printed page through the copier again with the color sheet over it, thus heating and fusing the color to the toner on the paper, or by use of a specialized heat press or even a small hand iron.

    Several systems were developed and they went by the names Color Tag and Omnicrom, among others. Color transfer sheets came in many colors INCLUDING METAL FOILS. They were wildly popular for a few years until color printers became widely available. Then they pretty much died. To the extent they still exist, it is because of the metallic foil capability. If you want your letterhead, product label, etc. to jump off the page in shiny silver or gold, and your volumes are small enough to justify doing it more or less by hand, these systems still beat anything short of a fancy print shop. Basically, this system was the same as the FT-10 that Bobby saw, but at the consumer level.

    You can still find this gear on ebay; Color Tag sets, especially, which were marketed to the home craft audience as well as businesses, are easy and cheap to get. There happens to be one on ebay right now, number 230125884564, with the bidding starting at $9.99. I bought one some time ago and it does work. The transfer films can also be had on ebay and a few companies still make them, but the best way to get them is to find a musty old stationery store that somehow hasn't quite been put out of business by Staples and Office Depot yet. You know -- the one with the stock that dates from the 1950s and the beat-up sign in the window that says, "NEW - ZEROX COPIES AVAILABLE HERE" (usually misspelled like that). In a filing cabinet in the back they will have piles and piles of this stuff. They will probably have to move a couple of shelves of quill pen ink and aniline ditto machine supplies to give you access to it. The staff may not even remember what it is for but if you are lucky, may sell you all you want for pennies on the dollar just to clean out the filing cabinets. That is what happened to me. Most of the colors you will find will be godawful 90s fashion shades of turquoise, lavender and puce, but you should find some useful silvers, golds, greys, and whites in there as well.

    But, for all I know, an old Color Tag iron might work with the foil transfer sheets currently made for the FT-10 system. I see that you can get a roll measuring 8 inches by 100 feet (!) of that stuff for about $15.00, which ought to tide you over for a while! Might be worth a try. You could even try it with a standard laundry iron if you're feeling adventurous; I've tried it and it can work, but the iron is generally too hot, clumsy, and inaccurate in temperature control. A covering iron as used by RC modelers for apply coverings like monokote might be better.

    I bought this setup for making waterslide decals for plastic models, sort of an alternative to now-defunct ALPS printing (which, by the way, is another solution for applying metallics to paper models if you can find the gear). To use it with paper models, I guess I would first print my paper model design in color with an inkjet, then overprint with a laser the areas I wanted silver, then apply the transfer film with a hand iron. The trick would be to align the paper perfectly so that the inket printed and laser printed portions were exactly in register. Depending on your printer that might just be beyond the precision of your paper feeder tray. With care, though, you could design your laser printed area to avoid markings, panel lines, rivets, and other things you didn't want silver. Most of the foils in these heat transfer systems are very shiny and you would end up with an almost chrome-plated look.

    Just an idea, albeit a long-winded one.

  5. Bobbyq

    Bobbyq New Member

    That Iron trick just might work!
    The only thing is, if the Iron can get hot enough to release the foil.
    Normally most metallic and refractive foils require around 200f / 104c and I'm not sure if an iron can reach that temperature.
    They do make low temp foils but I don't have much access to those.

    I have some holographic, gold, blue metallic, and some pastel color foils here at work and i'll take it home and give the iron trick a try, and give you the results on how it turned out.
  6. k5083

    k5083 Member

    I'll be interested.

    The old Color Tag/Omnicrom system foils were for quite low temps. A clothes iron was too hot. Don't know about the new FT-10 and such.

    Would be nice to have new sources of foil to use with my Color Tag iron.

  7. Bobbyq

    Bobbyq New Member

    Here are my results from my iron test.

    Using a digital tempura reader I got an average temperature of around 196 f. with the hottest point being 205 f.
    The foil I had is over 8 years old; it was a refractive foil (holographic type) and a metallic blue.
    The sheet is a 20lb paper, and it was printer in color by a HP2840.

    I put the paper on top of my cutting map with my foil on top of that and another sheet on top of the foil.
    So the foil is sandwiched.
    I tried to keep as little pressure as possible to prevent stamping the unprinted areas.
    As you can see the unprinted areas were still printed on and some of the toner areas didn’t get fully filled.
    I have a suspicion that the foil I used is too old and has gone bad with age.
    The newer foils have different release characteristics and can be used with lower temperatures.
    I also think that the iron having just a general heat setting and hot and cold spots didn’t do much good either.

    Unfortunately I currently don’t have access to the newer foils right now, but I plan to pick up some next time I visit a customer who does foil stamping.

    I haven't given up on this quite yet.
  8. k5083

    k5083 Member

    I think you should try it with black print rather than colored. They say that using a fresh cartridge so it deposits lots of toner also helps.

    What foil transfer machine or system was your foil made for?

    Definitely keep experimenting! I bet you will get it to work.

  9. Bobbyq

    Bobbyq New Member

    The foil was from a show we did back in the late 90’s
    It was used in a clamshell foil stamper embosser.
    And I do feel that I should use the newer foils as well as have better control of the temperature.

    (I just thought of something!)
    I wonder if there may be a way to modify an old laser printer or laser copier so that it could utilize the foil.?
    I understand the concept on what needs to be done and how I might be able to it.
    It’s just a mater of getting a hold of a use machine to butcher.
  10. k5083

    k5083 Member

    Shouldn't be any need to butcher. Some of the foils I wrote my overly long post about were designed to be used by taping the foil over a previously printed page and running it through the copier or printer again. The fuser in the copier would activate the foil. You would copy a piece of white paper so as not to lay any more toner down on the sheet. I tried it, it worked, but not as reliably as the iron.


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