What is traditional foil fusing and what are its
Traditional foil fusing technology uses a series of heated rollers to
fuse foil to toner image areas on certain papers and plastics. While
this technology has important applications, it also has several
limitations. These include: slow speed, excessive foil waste,
restrictions in suitable papers and finishes, and the inability to
selectively apply foil within surrounding toner image areas.
What is HSFF and what advantages does it offer
over traditional foil fusing?
THERM-O-TYPE has introduced a new foil fusing technology called
High Speed Foil Fusing (HSFF). The HSFF process significantly increases
the utility of foil fusing and offers solutions to each of the
traditional foil fusing limitations. HSFF technology can be easily and
inexpensively adapted to most platen foil stamping equipment.
Unlike traditional hot stamping foils that stick to paper, HSFF foils
are manufactured to adhere to toner. As a result, traditional hot
stamping foils can NOT be used with the HSFF process. Because the HSFF
process differs from traditional foil fusing, many foils that work with
traditional foil fusing do not work with the HSFF process. In spite of
the special characteristics of HSFF foil, a wide selection of metallic
colors, pigments (including white), metallic glitters, metallic and
transparent holographic patterns, and even security foils are available
for HSFF. An interesting side note on HSFF foils is that these foils CAN
be used with metal dies to apply foil over solid toner backgrounds. This
is a hybrid process combining a traditional die with HSFF foils.
Thermal Transfer Plate (TTP)
HSFF, like traditional foil stamping with metal dies, requires heat and
pressure to create a foil image. With traditional foil stamping, the
image area is defined by the metal die. Using the HSFF process, no die
is required and a toner image defines where the foil will be applied.
The Thermal Transfer Plate (TTP) is the surface used to apply heat to
the foil, toner and paper. This plate is approximately .25" thick and
replaces the die on the chase. TTP material is a composite with a metal
backer with a high temperature, compressible, synthetic coating facing
the foil/paper. Thermal Transfer Plates can be purchased to match
customers image area requirements. To maximize HSFF production, we
recommend that the TTP be mounted on a chase configured with mounting
holes. Honeycomb style chases are NOT recommended for HSFF due to the
lower heat density/transfer through this type of chase. The TTP
thickness and mounting method allows most foil stamping presses to
easily switch between traditional foil stamping, with metal dies, and
HSFF, without dies, in just a few minutes. The TTP has several important
characteristics required for successfully using the HSFF process on the
widest range of stocks at the highest speed with the longest durability.
Bottom Makeready Material (BMM)
The most confusing issue with HSFF is that even though the TTP and foil
may cover many different toner image areas on a sheet, the HSFF process
allows foil to be selectively applied to certain image areas without
affecting the surrounding toner image areas. The solution to selectively
fusing foil is a simple makeready procedure and the use of Bottom
Makeready Material (BMM). As already stated, fusing foil to toner
requires heat and pressure. Heat is provided through the TTP. Pressure
is generated by the platen press. BMM provides the means to localize
where pressure is applied to the paper and foil against the TTP. By
cutting and applying the self adhesive BMM to align only with the toner
image areas where foil is to be fused, pressure can be selectively
applied to these image areas. Preparing a HSFF makeready is very easy
and can usually be completed in a few minutes. We recommend that HSFF
makeready be mounted on Acetate, as this allows a makeready to be used
over and over again. Pre-configured acetate makeready sheets can be
mounted on the press with masking tape in less than a minute.
Thermal Insulating Material (TIM)
Under certain circumstances, HSFF foil may adhere to toner outside the
areas defined by the BMM. This can be caused by various factors
including: paper flexing during the HSFF mpression cycle or if toner
image areas are very close to where foil is being fused. Applying TIM to
the TTP creates a thermal barrier that eliminates foil fusing in these
areas Thermal Insulating Material (TIM) is a thin, self adhesive, high
temperature insulation that can be cut with scissors and applied to the
Thermal Transfer Plate to stop foil from fusing to toner outside the
areas defined by the HSFF makeready. In many applications, such as
greeting card personalization, Thermal Insulating Material is not needed.
What is ThermoEmbossing?
While HSFF is normally used to produce a flat foil image, a process
called ThermoEmbossing has been developed by THERM-O-TYPE that allows a
foil embossed image to be created without dies. At this time, the Kodak
NexPress is the only printer that can apply the toner lay down required
for this process. To create a ThermoEmbossed image, background (flat
foil) and foreground (embossed) layers must be created in pre-press. The
background layer is designated to print as a 75% black toner image. The
foreground layer is designated to print as a rich black (with or without
Kodak Clear Dimensional DryInk) toner image. Background and foreground
toner is applied to the sheet in a single pass through the NexPress.
When foil is fused to the background and foreground toner, the rich
black areas appear embossed.
What is ThermoFusing?
The HSFF process can also be used to create a spot varnish effect on
toner image areas. This process is called ThermoFusing, and is also
known as toner glossing or post fusing. When ThermoFusing toner image
areas, a special fusing film is used to keep toner from offsetting to
the Thermal Transfer Plate during the fusing process. In addition to
glossing the toner image area, ThermoFusing also improves toner adhesion
Are there special considerations while using the
There must always be some gap between toner image areas when one image
area is to be foil fused and the adjacent image area is not. This gap
will vary depending on the registration accuracy of the printer applying
the toner to the sheet. It is important to understand the capabilities
of your laser printer when foil fusing select toner image areas on a
An air blast foil separation system is recommended for HSFF.
Fusing foils do not come in different release formulations. In spite of
this fact, solid areas and fine line type can usually be foil fused with
excellent quality provided temperature, impression pressure, foil
tension and air blast controls are adjusted correctly.
While the HSFF
process dramatically increases the range of papers that can be foil
fused, there are still some restrictions, mainly due to incompatible
coatings on certain papers. Paper surface finish, which is a huge issue
with heated roller fusers, is not an issue when using the HSFF process.
In fact, papers with very deep textures can be foil fused with the HSFF
process, provided the laser printer can apply toner within the textured
As with heated roller foil fusing, HSFF is NOT compatible with
all toners. Customers who wish to see if their printers are compatible
with the HSFF process can send sample sheets to THERM-O-TYPE for
Because HSFF does NOT use a metal die, any texture in the
paper will NOT be crushed flat by the foil fusing process. As a result,
the texture of the paper will show through the foil. This HSFF
characteristic allows some unique visual effects to be created.
Using a foil press that can support multiple foil rolls, it is
possible to combine HSFF and ThermoFusing in a single press pass. One
application for this capability would be to foil fuse one panel of a
greeting card verse insert while ThermoFusing a full color toner graphic
on the opposite panel. Another multiple foil roll application can
include fusing transparent holographic foil over a full color toner
image while fusing one or more metallic colored foils to other toner
image areas on the sheet. This is a format which has been demonstrated
to produce graduation announcements with three foils fused to different
image areas in one press pass.
The utility of the HSFF is normally based
on product quantity. It is obvious that the cost of a metal die, and the
ability to run faster on a NSF press, would negate the advantages of the
HSFF process as quantities increase. However, small quantity orders are
currently a strong growth market and this is where the HSFF process
excels. Imagine personalizing a thousand invitations, with a different
name on each (variable data), and then running these through the HSFF
process, at up to 4,000 iph with foil fused to each personalized
Are there additional benefits of HSFF,
ThermoFusing and ThermoEmbossing?
High Speed Foil Fusing and ThermoEmbossing processes enhance and
encapsulate toner in foil. These processes also provide significant
protection to the toner image. Even the ThermoFusing process, which
does NOT deposit a coating over the toner, enhances and improves the
durability of the toner during the "post fusing" process. As with
any other printing process, high speed foil fusing is not a perfect
solution for all situations. However, HSFF offers a new set of
capabilities that have applications in most foil stamping
markets. Graduation name cards, announcements and invitations, business
cards, and greeting card personalization are just a few examples of
applications that can benefit from the high speed foil fusing process.
For additional information on the HSFF process, makeready material, set
up procedures, fusing foils and films contact THERM-O-TYPE at
800-237-9630 or visit