What gauge size to choose for foil blocking

foil blocking gauge sizes

A common question we often get asked about when discussing the ordering process of our foil blocking dies is, what gauge size do I choose for my machine? Gauge is the measurement term for the actual thickness of the material. Regardless of the material chosen, across the industry there is a uniform array of gauge sizes available which are detailed in the table below. However, some die manufacturers choose not to offer all materials in all gauges, possibly due to un-popularity and/or manufacturing costs may make some sizes not cost effective.

Type Height and Gauge Size

An additional consideration to gauge is Type Height, the measurement from your machines base bed to the impression contact point of your machine. Machines do vary, but for the most of machines there is standard set UK/USA 23.3mm height and an EU/Rest of World 23.5mm height which derives from the old letterpress format machines. Machines then usually allow for an additional makeready guide of 1mm-1.5mm. Type Height should be met with the thickness of your bed/heater plate and your stamping block. This is why many machines have either a 17mm or 16.3mm heater plate to function at Type Height with 6.35mm or 7mm respectively. Exceeding the Type Height could result in you causing damage to your machine and likely your block if you run the machine oversized.

As an end user, sometimes you have the opportunity to order a different gauge size purely to save cost. Theoretically a thinner gauge material is cheaper with the majority of suppliers, but what can you do to achieve Type Height if your machine requires it? The answer is to utilise a separate mounting block which you can use underneath a thinner gauge block. You can repeat this process as you reorder more thinner gauges as and when required. However, you should remember that not all cost savings have benefits in the setup time for your job! Mounting in this way results back to using die bonding film, where registration is more challenging and you lose the benefits of toggle hook fastening with easy adjustment.

If you have a hand press or semi-automatic vertical stamping machine, in most cases type height is irrelevant and the impression control distance is either controller by hand or based on contact pressure instead of distance.

Gauge Size (MM) Gauge Size (INCHES)
1.63mm 0.06″
3.05mm 0.12″
4mm 0.15″
5.02mm – no longer available 0.2″ – no longer available
6.35mm 0.25″ (quarter inch)
7mm 0.275″

Here are some notes which you can use to help make your own decision on what gauge sizes are best for your job.

1.63mm Gauge blocks

  • This is the thinnest material available to order. It’s ideal for one time use and very common in the label stamping market because of the machines used often are pre-set for this gauge.
  • Often the cheapest gauge to order
  • Ideal for short runs which are not repeated
  • Only useable with die bonding film but removal will likely bend/damage the plate and hence one time use
  • Hand platen / semi-auto vertical platen
  • Difficult to accommodate Type Height requirement

3mm Gauge blocks

  • A cheaper gauge to order than larger gauge sizes
  • Only useable with die bonding film but potentially suitably for re-use, as the thicker gauge will prevent damage upon removal
  • Suited to short runs
  • Hand platen / semi-auto vertical platen
  • Possible and easier to accommodate 7mm Type Height with a 4mm block underneath

4mm & 5mm Gauge blocks

  • A cheaper gauge to order than larger gauge sizes
  • Mostly suited to fixing with die bonding film but potential other fixing options on the market – not toggle hooks
  • Can be long-term use and a more stable, stronger block for longevity
  • Hand platen / semi-auto vertical platen

6.35mm Gauge blocks

  • Faster and easier fixing with toggle hook and bunter fixings – no use of die bonding film
  • Better suited to Clamshell platen, cylinder and auto-platen machines
  • UK/USA Type Height use

7mm Gauge blocks

  • Faster and easier fixing with toggle hook and bunter fixings – no use of die bonding film
  • Better suited to Clamshell platen, cylinder and auto-platen machines
  • EU/Rest of World Type Height use

Read more information here regarding what material to order for your foil blocking dies.

Profoil manufactures foil blocking and embossing plates as copper dies, brass dies and magnesium dies in many different gauge sizes.

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