Introduction to Toner Foiling

Toner foiling

Toner foiling has become hugely popular in recent years with the introduction of simple desktop machines and larger machines suited towards commercial use. We’re seeing much more interest in this area and how to achieve a foiled result without using traditional methods. However, there is a lot of confusion on the market as to the different types of foils and what one process can do versus the other.

What is Toner Foiling?

Toner foiling can also be known as laser foiling, foil fusing, sublimation foiling and foil sleeking. It is a specialty print process of adhering specialised metallic or pigment foil to an area layered by toner from a toner (laser) printer. It works by simply fusing specialised adhesive coating that reacts with the black toner.

Due to the nature of the process, it is very cost effective for short runs and one-off jobs, and is perfect for all types of work such as small to medium definition and large solid areas.

What is the Toner Foiling Process?

To start toner foiling you need specialist toner foils, a toner foiling machine or a suitable equivalent laminator, a printer and paper.

It’s important to note that toner foils are not suitable for hot foil stamping, and specialised reactive toner foils are required for toner foiling. Start off by printing your design on a page – for the best results we would recommend using smooth and semi-coated stock materials that are not too absorbent as some papers absorb too much toner and therefore this can impact the foiled result. Then depending on the type of machine the next step is slightly different.

If you’re using a laminator, you need to cut some foil off and stick the foil over the top of the printed page and then run this through the laminator. The heat and pressure from the roller will “activate” the foil and it should stick to the toner of the printed page.

However we would recommend a suitable toner machine such as Profoil’s ProToner 340 for which you apply the roll of foil to the machine, run it through the system and feed your sheet into the machine.

With both machines types you may need to make adjustments based on speed and heat to ensure full coverage and a good finish. With laminators and basic machines this may be difficult due to limitations of the machines. Whilst the ProToner 340 Machine has a digital control panel for accurate temperature, changeable speed settings, along with an adjustable high-grade roller system. These features ensure the best result on various substrates and thicknesses. This a professional solution against inferior marketplace alternatives.

What type of printer should I use?

An older laser printer will work best due to the higher levels of toner used. You may find newer printers often use Eco mode for environmental purposes which is brilliant, however lower levels of toner can mean the reactive foil will not fuse as well and so the final result might not be as solid. Inkjet printers and/or wax-based inks are also unsuitable for this process as the foil will not adhere to these substances.

How is it different to hot foil stamping?

Hot Foil Stamping requires a bespoke metal stamping block (often called a die/cliché), a hot foil stamping machine and hot stamping foil. Each design will need to be made as an individual stamping block which is then positioned and locked up onto a heater plate and held in the press. It’s then down to a process of finding the correct temperature, dwell time and pressure (using makeready materials) to create the perfect impression. This is a time consuming and labour-intensive setup which can take hours for the final result.

Whereas toner foiling issues quick results by foiling directly onto the toner. No need for custom made stamping dies and minimal set up times.

 Advantages of Toner Foiling?

  • No bespoke dies
  • Allows the user to personalise each run
  • Change foil colours as many times as you like without complication of set-ups and different foils reacting to different inks/materials differently – increasing set up times
  • Toner foiling is a flat smooth finish, in comparison to hot foil stamping leaving impressions on the substrate
  • Quick & easy
  • Little to no experience needed, no training required
  • Safe – no machinery to operate
  • No registration required (lining up the die and sheet correctly)

Disadvantages of Toner Foiling?

  • Expensive – the toner foils are more expensive than standard hot stamping foils
  • Less control over the quality of the finish
  • Less cost effective for longer runs
  • Quality of toner foils available can be questionable
  • Quality of the finish is not as good as traditional hot foil stamping
  • Printers and toner cartridges are expensive
  • For more intricate designs hot foil stamping is better due to control over the finish
  • Using traditional hot foil stamping methods provides access to a greater number of finishes and embellishments such as embossing/debossing.

As you can see there’s plenty of benefits for toner foiling. It certainly has its place within the finishing industry however we believe it should be seen as a complimentary method to hot foil stamping and not a direct replacement. For example, it’s perfect to proof a job for a customer or complete a low run job. But for more intricate designs and longer runs, hot foil stamping is king!

Due to receiving a high number of calls and enquiries from customers regarding the toner foil process, we have decided to launch our own quality range of toner foils, featuring a wide range of colours including gold, silver and holographic.

If you’d like more information on the Protoner 340 machine then please contact us on (0)1473 707222 or email us at [email protected]. It’s easy to set up and with no technical knowledge of hot foil stamping needed. You can easily achieve great finishes for greetings cards, menus, invitations and much more!