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Folder Printers Custom Presentation Folder Printing
Folder Printers Custom Presentation Folder Printing
Folderprinters > Blog > Professional Grade: Embossing

Professional Grade: Embossing

Learn about the process of this un-digitizable specialty printing method.


June 12, 2023

In the world of printing, just as it is in any other industry, few processes do not lend themselves to digitization. In this article, we’ll discuss one of those unique processes. One that still requires expert craftsmanship, and thus, when designed and executed properly, delivers effective visual impact: Embossing.

Images of foil stamping die
HitchSwitch blind embossed folder on the right. On the left is the copper die used create it.

Embossing is specialty process in print manufacturing that produces raised patterns on the surface of a sheet of paper. This is achieved with the use of metal dies and an embossing machine.

It can be apllied as an enhancement of a design element (text, shape, even image) that has already been printed in ink, or it can stand alone as the sole printing method without the use of any ink. The latter referred to as blind embossing.

The process starts with the creation of embossing dies. Dies are specialized tools that are produced by carving the designed image or pattern from a block of metal, usually magnesium or copper.

Close-up Detail of Mountain Top Pocket Folder showing emboss
Close-up detail of copper die for HitchSwitch folder.
Two partner dies are required: one on which the image pattern is raised, while the other has the same pattern recessed into it. A very similar concept can be found on the inside (top and bottom) of a waffle maker. Images can be simple as letters or have intricate deatil as in sculptured dies.

Each die is placed on plates opposite each other in an embossing machine. Paper is then positioned in between them. Once the paper is properly in place, the plates holding the dies are pressed against each other thereby sandwiching the sheet in between them. The pressure applied during the pressing causes the raised pattern portion of the die to push the targeted area of the paper into the recessed die. As a result, because the dies are mirror surfaces of each other, the area to which the pattern of the dies were pressed will (just like the cooked dough on a waffle machine) protrude from the rest of the sheets surface area.

Images of foil stamping die
Embossing Die (right) set on a plate in an embossing machine. Will be pressed against a folder (left).

Image of die block and heated foil pressed against each other with paper and foil between them
Embossing Die pressed against paper.

This protrusion — or bump — by the way, is how the process got its name: from the French "bosse" meaning bump. More technically, the obsolete French embosser. Em meaning "into" and boce meaning ‘protuberance’

Close-up Detail of Mountain Top Pocket Folder showing emboss
Close-up shot of Mountain Top Construction's pocket folder showing emboss (text and rooftop images) detail.


In an era that is increasingly dominated by video and virtual experiences, any well made physical item is a refreshing and attention-grabbing experience. Printed marketing materials by themselves can deliver such as an experience, but those enhanced with embossing are further elevated. As a leading national manufacturer of custom presentation folders, we see this effect in projects that employ this speciaty process.

Besides its unique visual characteristic, there is also the tactile appeal. Running one’s fingers over the raised area is not an uncommon gesture for a recipient. Indeed, research papers have posited the impactful and positive role that the sense of touch plays in the purchase-decision process.

Finally, owing to its specialized and, to a certain degree, artisanal attributes, as well as infrequent application, embossing can add to your printed piece’s perceived value.

For these reasons, any marketer would do well to seriously consider embossing on their next printed marketing project.