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Manual Foil-Tech
Foil-Tech Foil Fusers - THERM-O-TYPE Corp. - Foil fusing, the process of bonding foil to a toner image printed with a copy machine or laser printer, has been around for many years. Unfortunately, foil-fusing equipment has not been available to make the process practical for even limited quantity production.

THERM-O-TYPE Foil-Tech foil fusers provides a new standard of foil fusing equipment performance. Using Foil-Tech equipment, customers can now utilize foil fusing technology to efficiently produce a wide range of high value products.

To operate the Manual Foil-Tech, paper is first loaded into the feeder. Sheets up to 14 1/2" wide by up to two feet long can be run through the machine. A foil roll, up to 4 1/2" in diameter, is mounted in the machine, with foil unwind and rewind tension controlled through adjustable clutches. Once the Foil-Tech has reached the adjustable set point fusing temperature, the paper feed is activated. As paper is fed into the machine, the operator activates the impression mechanism. When running 11" long letterhead stock portrait through the machine, up to 1,500 sheets per hour can be produced. Fused sheets are delivered into a receiving tray and used foil is rewound for disposal. When feeding has been completed, the operator disengages the impression mechanism. Fusing quality on various papers is controlled using both temperature and speed (dwell) controls. If a foil jam should occur, a sensor and interlock will automatically drop the machine off impression and stop the drive.

A second foil support and rewind shaft can be added to the top of the Foil-Tech as an option. Using this option, two rolls of foil can be fused to the top surface of the sheet in a single pass.

An additional foil support and rewind shaft can be added to the bottom of the Foil-Tech as an option. Using this option, foil can be fused on both sides of the sheet in a single pass.

Foil fusing eliminates the need for expensive equipment, a skilled operator, dies, and a makeready/set-up process for each job. The one drawback to foil fusing is the amount of foil consumed to produce individual jobs. With a foil stamping press, an adjustable foil draw allows operators to advance the foil to match the size of the image area. Using a foil fuser, foil is continually drawn through the machine while the fusing mechanism is on impression.

THERM-O-TYPE has incorporated several features in the Foil-Tech to minimize foil waste. The ability to run most sheet formats either portrait or landscape allows for optimum foil utilization. The ability to run multiple narrow rolls of foil, instead of a single, wide roll, can dramatically reduce foil waste on many applications. Finally, a reliable, efficient and easy to use feeder minimizes gaps between sheets and other feeder problems that can significantly increase foil waste.

Personalization
Individual or small quantity personalization of greeting cards and other products with foil has always been a hassle. Today, foil-stamping equipment is used for this work. The problem is that foil-stamping equipment is expensive and requires a skilled operator, a foil-stamping die must be created, and set up must be accomplished for each small quantity order. Using Foil-Tech, personalized information is imprinted on the sheet, using a low cost laser printer, then the sheets are fed into the Foil-Tech, where the foil is fused to the toner image area. No die is required. No registration or impression adjustments are required. No special operator skills are required.

Personalization applications include greeting cards, graduation, business and social announcements, invitations, and name cards.

Business Cards
Small quantity business cards are now successfully produced using full color laser printers. Run ten-up on a sheet, a 250-card order only requires 25 sheets of paper to be processed through the printer. Using relatively low cost digital equipment, these full-color, fast turnaround business card orders are successfully marketed with a retail value between $40.00 and $85.00.

To add additional value to these products, Foil-Tech can be used to imprint metallic and/or pigment foils.

Producing a full color, ten-up business card sheet with foil logos, with Foil-Tech, requires three steps. First, imprint only the image area to be foiled on the sheet using black toner. Second, run these sheets through the Foil-Tech to fuse the foil to the image area. Finally, run the sheets back through the laser printer to add any black or color text and/or graphics that need to be applied with toner.

The same process is used to add foil to letterheads and other personal or social stationery.

Custom products
Anyone, who has ever been to the National Stationery Show, will appreciate the number of companies that serve small niche markets with very small quantity custom products. Many of these companies use full color laser printers to produce their products. Using the same three-step process used to produce business cards, described above, greeting cards and other specialty products can be enhanced with foil, using Foil-Tech.

Proofs, design samples, small quantity tests
Creating proofs, design samples and small quantity test runs that feature foil, has always been expensive and time consuming. What is the right color foil to use to achieve the desired effect? How do you present design options for your presentation? How do you quantify the fact that the design is effective?

Using Foil-Tech, sample proofs can be quickly and economically produced using various colors of foil. Proofs and design samples can be created, evaluated and presented with various colors of foil. Once an initial design decision has been reached, small quantities of test product can be produced for design quantification. All without the delay and expense required with traditional foil stamping equipment.

Controlling production costs
Cost effective purchasing and utilization of foil is critical to minimizing foil fusing production costs. Foil-Tech is designed to accept rolls up to 2,000' long (4 1/2" diameter rolls on a 1" core). To receive the best price on foil, customers usually purchase 24" wide master rolls, then use a foil cutter to cut rolls to match the width of the image area. Cutting foil from master rolls, to gain maximum finished product yield per roll, is a significant factor in controlling foil fusing production costs.

Foil Fusing limitation
As a graphic process, foil fusing has incredible potential. However, like all technologies, foil fusing has limitations that need to be understood.

As the image to be foil fused is imprinted with a laser printer or copy machine, it is important to remember that finish quality will be dependent on the type and finish of paper used. Papers that are too heavy to run through a printer are unsuitable. Papers with excessive surface texture will affect finish quality. High gloss coated sheets may pick up toner on non-image areas on the sheet. As foil fusing will apply foil to any toner on the surface of the sheet, certain high gloss coated sheets may not be suitable.

There are a wide range of copy machines and laser printers available. Toner image quality will affect the finish quality produced on the foil fuser. Imaging equipment should be in good condition, with the ability to eliminate toner from non-image areas and, preferably, with the ability to control the density of the toner applied to the sheet.

Registration between image areas, imprinted during multiple passes through a laser printer, will affect the type of products that can be produced which combine foil and non-foil image areas. This condition will be controlled by the laser printer's ability to register the image on the sheet.

Summary
There are many ways to apply foil to paper. Each production method has capabilities and limitations that make them either ideal or unsuitable for specific applications. Most methods are currently designed to produce thousands of impressions per hour. None are designed to efficiently, and affordably, produce single sheet, and very small quantity, foil imprinted products.

With the introduction of Foil-Tech, the foil fusing process has become a practical production process.

Therm-O-Fusing Improves Image Quality and Durability
Full color laser printers can produce beautiful text and graphics at acceptable production speeds. While image quality and durability do not compare to offset printing, they are considered "good enough" for many applications. For those applications where it is desirable to significantly improve both image quality and durability, Therm-O-Fusing is the answer.

Therm-O-Fusing is accomplished using Foil-Tech equipment and embossing film. Embossing film is basically a roll of thin plastic material. To Therm-O-Fuse sheets that have been printed on a laser printer, sheets are run through Foil-Tech with the embossing foil replacing the normal metallic or pigment foil. As each sheet moves through the Foil-Tech fusing mechanism, the toner is remelted.

Therm-O-Fusing the toner on the sheet, under pressure, with a smooth plastic film over the toner provides three important results. First, the toner is aggressively bonded to the sheet, improving durability. Second, variations in toner density are smoothed out, providing a denser, more uniform image. Finally, the surface finish of the toner changes from a dull, flat finish to a gloss finish. The visual difference between sheets that have been Therm-O-Fused and those that have not is dramatic.

Therm-O-Fusing sheets is easy and inexpensive. Running 11" long sheets, up to 1,500 sheets per hour can be produced. Embossing film costs are $.55 for a "unit" of film (a unit is 1" wide by 200' long). Rolls up to 2,000' long can be run on Foil-Tech. To put this in perspective, to Therm-O-Fuse 250 business cards, run 10-up on 25 sheets of paper, the embossing film cost would be about $.65 and the run time would be about a minute.    

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