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Foil Stamping and Embossing Dies: What's in a Metal?

Apex Die: Foil Stamping / Embossing

What does metallurgy - the study of metals and alloys - have to do with effective marketing and brand identity development? Plenty, if your application calls for foil stamping, embossing or both.

The dies used in these processes are typically fabricated from one of three metals: brass, copper or magnesium. Each has distinct properties that must be carefully considered based on your specific application. In other words, a little metallurgic knowledge can pay big dividends in the form of time and cost savings - not to mention an eye-catching finished product!


Key Characteristics - Durability; transfers a high level of detail; "combo" dies allow single-pass foil embossing.

Brass is the superior choice for sculptured and multi-level dies; it can accurately transfer even the finest details. As the durability champ among embossing dies, brass dies can be used for run lengths of 100,000 or more.

Brass is the only material that can be used for combination foil embossing dies, which allow both foil stamping and embossing to be performed in one pass. While the initial costs for brass combination dies are higher relative to other choices, these are often more than made up in the form of faster turnarounds (especially on longer-run jobs).


Key Characteristics - Strong; versatile; great for single-level applications.

As the hardest of these three metals, copper is a popular choice for extended run lengths. Copper dies are typically etched using a photo chemical process, which offers excellent accuracy and quality for single-level (or flat) stamping and embossing applications.


Key Characteristics - Lowest initial cost; popular for shorter production runs.

Magnesium dies are an economical choice for flat stamping and embossing applications. Magnesium, like copper, is usually photo chemically etched rather than hand tooled to create the image area. However, magnesium is a relatively soft metal and may not be well-suited to long runs.

Planning Considerations

The Apex Die Advantage
Apex Die is your headquarters for all foil stamping and embossing applications. Our expert staff will guide you through every step of the planning and production process while keeping your budget, scheduling needs, marketing goals and appearance objectives in mind. Give us a call today to see how Apex Die can help you exceed the expectations of your customers and end users.