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Hot Stamping Glossary

This glossary is a work in progress

and does not contain all hot stamping terms. As terms are added, we will be tweeting the definitions on our twitter account.

to see our regularly tweeted ‘definitions of the day’


ABS PlasticsABS is a type of plastic. It is a thermoplastic material often used for: musical instruments, golf club heads, automotive trim, protective headgear, luggage and protective carrying cases, small kitchen appliances, toys such as Legos, computer keyboards, power tool housing, wall socket face-guards, and 3D printing



acetateAcetate is a plastic derivative of natural sources such as wood pulp and cotton. It is often used for plastic film, tool handles, eye-glass frames, medical products, and food industry products.



acrylicAlso known as Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), acrylic glass Crylux, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, and Perspex. It is a clear material that resembles glass. It is often used for durable signs, skylights, displays, aquariums, automobile lenses, eyeglass lenses, jewelry, & artificial nails


Adhesive Coat

Hot stamp foil contains several important layers to make the great imprints desired. One of these is the adhesive coat. This allows the pigment/color layer to adhere, or stick, to the product. It is always the layer that comes in direct contact with the substrate. The adhesive coat varies based on what kind of material is being printed on.



When you align things, you make sure they line up properly. In imprinting, the hot stamp die needs to line up or be aligned with the product so the graphic is imprinted properly.

Backing- See Carrier Sheet 

Blind Stamp

A blind stamp is when a graphic is created through hot stamping without foil. This is also often referred to as branding, particularly when leather is being used.

Carrier Sheet

carrier sheetA carrier sheet is one of the layers in a hot stamping foil that serves as a base or ‘carrier’ for the foil. It is placed facing the hot stamp die so when the die presses down, the pigment and other layers adhere to the product. Most carrier sheets are made from polyester and comes in varying thicknesses measured by Gage. The thinner the Gage, the crisper the release, which is best for fine detail.


Clamps- See Rubber Tipped Clamps


Combination Stamping

The process by which 2 dies (called male and female) are used to emboss a product.


Contour Die

contour dieA contour die is a hot stamping die that conforms to the surface of the part being printed. This enables the print to have an even surface print around the substrate. Our contour dies come in brass, steel or silicone.


Cooling Tile

cooling tileA cooling tile is is for placing a hot stamp die on to cool. It is useful when you are moving between stamping jobs. Also, when a hot stamping die is heated the metal expands and when it cools it contracts and may slip out of the hot stamp press/die holder.


debossing on leatherthe art of creating a depression or impression in a product. This is often referred to as branding when the application is leather. 


delrinDelrin is often referred to as polyoxymethylene (POM). It is sometimes used to replace metal (it being one of the strongest plastics). It is used for gears, guns, knife handles, locks, and automotive parts.



Die Face

brass diesa  hot Stamping die face is the surface of the die that is used to apply foil or make an imprint. on a hot stamp press, the die face faces down towards the hot stamping foil.


Die Holder

die holderA die holder is the part that attaches to a hot stamping press and holds the hot stamping die in place.


Die Temperature

A Hot Stamping Die temperature is usually controlled by a thermostat or temperature controller, which maintains head heat under normal cycle speeds in a range of 100 – 170 degrees C. 

Dwell Time

dwell timeDwell time is the time from when a hot stamp die comes in contact with the part being printed until it is released.


embossed paperthe art of creating raised surface designs.In hot stamping, this is accomplished by placing a flat part in between a male and female embossing die set.


The bridging between letters that connect the characters. This may be intentional or accidental. In hot Stamping, printed text generally appear bolder than the hot Stamp Die so it is good to be careful not to place lettering too close together or it may cause accidental fill-in.

Flush Stamp

flush stampA flush stamp is when a flat-surfaced material is being imprinted. With flush stamping, the hot stamp die has raised surfaces that imprint the foil onto the product.



The height, width, and length of the object being printed.


Glossy finishes make the application have a shiny, bright, or glazed appearance.


gradationA gradation is a transition between 2 colors. This image is a black and white gradation. traditional hot stamping does not allow for gradation, but our full-color fusions and image transfers do!



A halftone of a color is the use of dots varying in size or spacing that creates either a gradient-like appearance, or (in combination with another color’s halftone) creates a color blending effect. halftones are not used in traditional hot stamping, but we supply both full-color fusions and image transfers that may use halftones to create gradients and color variations.





A hit is a single impression from a #hotStampingDie. A two color #imprint would require two hits. When we do custom #hotStamping, we charge a designated cost per hit.

Image Area

In hot stamping, the image area is the available area that you could apply your print to your part. It is based on printing limitations. For example, a product may only have an area of 1″x 5″ that a graphic can be hot stamped on, or the printing press may be limited to being able to print a 4″x5″ area.


imprint hot stampAn imprint is a mark, stamp, or impression on a surface. In hot stamping, this is done using a hot stamp press and die.


kerningIn typesetting, kerning is the adjustment of the spacing between two characters so they appear closer together or further apart.

Laquer Coat

laquer coatIn hot stamping, foil contains a protective laquer coat. This coat serves as a top coat to allow for chemical and abrasion resistance. There are various types of laquer coating for varying application requirements.


Line Drawing

line drawingA line drawing is a drawing that contains no grays or middle tones. It contains no gradients or half-tones but is one solid colored image. This is the type of image that is imprinted using traditional hot stamping.

Matte Finish

Matte finishes make the application have a flat, un-shiny appearance.


When something is opaque, the pigment completely covers other colors on which it is placed. In hot stamping, an opaque foil will not allow colors on the substrate to show through it. Opacity is the degree to which a material is opaque.

Protective Laquer- see laquer coat


Pigment/Pigment Coat

pigmentPigments are the particles used to give color to a foil. Hot stamping foil contains either a pigmented or metallized coat that gives color to the imprint.

Raster/Rasterized- See Vector


A register is an accurate alignment of plates or colors one over the other in order to create multiple color images. In hot stamping, multiple dies with varying color can be used to layer colors together to make one whole image. Their registration is accurate when they are properly aligned to create the desired imprints.

Rubber Tipped Clamps

rubber tipped stampsIn hot stamping, rubber tipped clamps can be used to hold a product in place while being imprinted. Using rubber tipped clamps is advised if the product being stamped is bulky or may move while being stamped.

Self-Centering Chase

self-centering chaseA self-centering chase is a part that is placed on a hot stamping press that holds and centers typeset.


Silicone Die

Silicone DieA Silicone Die is a hot stamp die made from a rubbery material that conforms itself to slight surface sinks or irregularities and reduces scrapped parts. It is the most economical die choice and a good choice for parts with surface imperfections.


slittingSlitting in hot stamping is the cutting of foil to specific sizes needed for an imprinting project. We slit hot stamp foil on 1″ and 3″ cores to specified widths. This image shows a master roll being slitted using our top-of-the-line slitting equipment.



typeface spacerSpacers are used in hot stamping with typeface dies. They create space between and around lettering. This is sometimes called ‘furniture’ in the hot stamp community as it is arranged around the type like furniture would be around a room.


TippingTipping is when foil is applied with a flat die to the raised surface of the part/product. This process leaves the foil only on the flat, raised surface.



24 pt TypesetTypesetting is the composition of text in a chase or type holder for imprinting. It requires one or more fonts and is available in different sizes and materials such as alloy, brass and steel.

Vector/Vectorized Graphics

vector vs rasterVector graphics are created using mathematical points connected by lines/curves at an angle. Any collection of points that is connected on all sides creates a shape that can be filled in with a color or gradient. If an image is not vector, it is considered raster images. Vectors can be increased or decreased in size without loosing detail. When submitting a graphic for a hot stamp die, we request a vector graphic if at all possible. This is because customization and edits are easier to make to vector graphics. .ai .eps .pdf or .svg are the most ideal vector formats for our purposes.