Future of Foiling- InstaFoil - Printfinishing

For years, hot stamp foiling has been one of the premium offerings in the print finishing industry, being a true artisan process. Printers wanting to offer this to their clients needed to invest in an expensive hot stamp foiling press or have a partnership with a trade bindery offering this solution. With the limitations and complexity of this finishing process as well the high cost to produce a single piece limits the customer base willing to pay the premium. (For more details on hot foil, you can read our previous article on hot foil stamping HERE)

The demand for foiling is still there but the requirements have changed from the clients. They may want 50 personalised invitations for their special event, in a short period of time. Using hot stamp foiling it would mean 50 individual die plates and the cost and time to create these makes do not make this an economical choice. Before a single piece of paper is printed the cost to create a single die for can run over 100 dollars depending on the design.

So how does a printer whether large or small meet the demands of today's customer's request for a premium embellishment like foiling? This is where digital foiling can meet and surpass the expectations of both the client and the printer investing in this process.

Digital foiling with Sydney Stones InstaFoil and the InstaFoil 18 Foiling and Laminating Machine

Digital foiling shares the similarities for hot foil stamping, needing both heat and pressure to apply the foil to the paper. The way you get your design elements is where it takes a whole new approach as the foil is designed to adhere to the toner applied to the sheet of paper from your digital press. With the design process being created digitally the client and printer now have near limitless design choices while being cost-effective for both short-run and long-run work.

To apply the heat and pressure a simple and affordable machine like the InstaFoil 18 can be used to achieve this process (for a more detailed look at this machine click HERE). Whatever the design element you are looking to have foiled, it must be printed in 100% black (NO CYMK) giving you a lower cost per copy and it also turns off your digital presses’ security feature. Printing with CMYK your digital press prints the machines serial number in a fine dot pattern and the foil will adhere to these ruining the result.

Once the design has been printed Gold, Silver, Rose Gold, Copper and even holographic being the most popular can be applied to the sheet. When InstaFoil is heated and pressed onto the sheet with the heated rollers on the InstaFoil 18 the foil will detach and stick to the toner on the sheet leaving a sharp smooth foil finish.


Direct to Paper is the most common process for applying foil, simply print whatever you wish to foil in 100% black and then apply your InstaFoil. Notably, when doing this process, it does require a coated stock for an optimal finish. When toner is applied it lays on top of the paper fibers molding to whatever texture may be there. If using an uncoated paper stock, some peaks and valleys make it hard to get a clean finish with the foil, leaving some of the toner exposed in the low-lying areas. Coated stock seals off these peaks and valleys leaving a smooth surface for the toner to be first applied to thus giving a smooth foil finish. If the customer requests to only have a portion of the job foiled this can be easily done in a three-step process. First print the area to be foiled, apply the foil, then the remaining design elements can be printed in a second pass, or the isolation method can be used to get this effect.

Isolation Method, this also gives the finished piece and extra design element to it by taking the embellishment one step further. With the InstaFoil 18 being a multi-purpose machine and used in combination with OPP SoftTouch Matte Laminate, you can apply this product to the sheet of paper, giving a new tactile feel that is also printable. It is important to know not all laminates are printable, the laminate needs to have the proper dyne level which allows the toner bond with and not peel or scratch off.

When doing the isolation method, you simply print whatever design element you DON’T want to be foiled. Using your InstaFoil 18 apply your soft touch digital laminate to the printed piece, isolating the printed design from ever being foiled. After you have completed this you can then print whatever image you are going to foil onto the laminated sheet of paper, finally, you can complete the process by applying whatever InstaFoil colour the client has requested to the piece.

Step 1: Print Background Graphics

Step 2: Apply SoftTouch Laminate

Step 3: Print Design to be Foiled

Step 4: Apply Instafoil


With customers and printers looking for an edge and a way to stand out digital foiling is a very simple, easy, and cost-effective way for any shop of any size to offer a premium finish to their clients. Some shops may already have the machinery in place to start offering this and we at Sydney Stone can help guide you along the way. With many levels of foiling machines available depending on your needs be sure to reach out to your Sydney Stone representative to discuss all the options available.