Thermography, also known as Thermographic Printing, Raised Ink Printing and Offset Thermography, is a cost-effective alternative to achieve a raised effect similar to engraving and embossing. Thermography is widely regarded as an appealing and preferred printing process that adds prestige to any printed piece.
Thermography is a specialized process that combines offset printing ink with a powdered resin which is baked so that the resin rises to give the ink a raised, textured effect. The image is first offset printed with a slow drying ink. Next, the wet printed sheets travel through a tunnel that dusts them with resin, the areas with ink are covered with the resin and the excess is vacuumed off. Heat is then applied which melts the resin to form a raised, glassy and slightly enlarged image. There are several types of powder used in thermography: fine, medium and coarse, dull, matte and gloss. The powders are transparent so they take on the colour of the underlying ink. It is also possible to use a transparent ink which will make a transparent or “blind” design.
The most common use for thermography printing is for business cards and business stationery. It is also used for wedding invitations, greeting cards, report covers and other printed items. You can also apply thermography to specific portions of the sheet only, thereby creating a special effect that is not achievable using any other means.
Most applications would call for a clear powder so that the raised area takes the colour of the printed ink. However, for special applications, different coloured powder are also available: white, gold, silver, copper and even glow-in-the-dark.
Raised printing looks professional and eye-catching. Thermography is a much cheaper alternative to engraving or embossing. It literally adds another dimension to the printed piece. Because the ink is heated and dried after passing through the heat tunnel, the printed piece is completely dry and can be trimmed or packaged immediately.
The raised ink cannot go across a fold or bleed as it would crack when folded or cut.
Tips for Thermography Printing
- Thermography is not recommended for screens or halftones as the non-image area may fill in with powder. For the same reason, avoid intricate elements and very small type (7 points or less).
- Thermographed images do not have any overall size constraints. However, large solid areas of colour may blister.
- Coated and uncoated papers are suitable for thermography. Uncoated papers provide contrast to the glossy surface of thermography.
- Basis weights from 20 lb. (75 gsm) to double-thick covers may be used. Avoid using heavily textured papers that have the potential of trapping powder in non-printing areas.
- Envelopes can be converted before thermographing.
- Thermography will run through inkjet printers. However, talk to us first about using a laser-safe resin for letterhead/shells that will run through laser printers. Because thermography is a heat-set process, and also because the printing is raised, it is not recommended on all laser printers or copiers which operate at high temperatures. Be sure to specify a paper that is laser guaranteed for these projects and run tests.
Do you have a question about the process or the application? Need help setting up files? Contact us or comment below.
Samco Printers is a full service commercial printer providing exceptional offset, digital and large format printing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada using the latest pre-press, printing and finishing technologies. We also have a fully equipped art department to handle your graphic and web design needs.
Need help? Let us help you get started or put the finishing touches on your printed materials. Our Art Director will be happy to spend some time with you. Give us a call at 604.683.6991 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t need help with design? Talk to us anyway to ensure that the files you’ll be supplying meet our specifications.