Embossing and debossing are terms Ultra Finishing use when we create either raised or sunken impressions onto paper or board. Amazing designs can be created when you introduce the kind of texture and depth that this technique offers. From greeting cards to elaborate point of sale items, books, folders, packaging in fact anything that you want to elevate aesthetically makes this process a good option for you to consider for your projects.


It’s not an easy question to answer, each substrate will allow a different level, generally it will lift between 15- 25 microns, depending upon the engraver’s apparatus and the design size, though ultimately the depth is achieved and decided during the make ready stage. Our operators start with the maximum depth of the die, however some substrates tear easily under pressure so we work backwards gradually removing backing paper from the press until we achieve the optimum level of emboss for the substrate supplied.

Deboss is a similar operation however it is pressed out of the front side of the image driving the image down rather than raising it. This causes a depression or recess in the stock. It looks particularly impressive on uncoated boards and where packaging is limited to the type of materials allowed on and around a product. Some brands are now opting for plastic free alternatives to decorate their products, so embossing is a great choice for this type of client.


Detailed projects that are to be embossed or debossed using sculptured dies should be created using vector images. This is because the artwork will later be converted into a film (positive). This is used to photo-etch the image onto metal plates to create a set of fluted dies which are then needed to form the finished effect. Vector files tend to have a crisper edge to the image on the film and will make a better impression on the sheet.

Embossing/Debossing is performed on a machine that presses the two dies together under precise pressure and under a constant heat temperature. One of the dies is inset and the other is raised. They fit perfectly together to make a mould that shapes the substrate into the emboss or deboss. Here is an example of the embossing effect that these two dies have pressed out of the paper—in this case a coloured foil was used in combination with the embossing to give the text a 3D effect.

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Registered – Here the emboss has been registered to an image which has been printed gold and has had a spot uv varnish applied. It gives a really luxurious feel to the packaging and accentuates the gold image . When supplying artwork for this kind of work we require an in position positive with tick marks on the outer trims of the sheet.

Blind The image shown here has not been printed. We are essentially making the impression using the set of dies onto a blank canvas. This is called blind embossing. We can do the same with blind debossing. When supplying artwork for this kind of work we require an imposition positive with tick marks large enough to register an emboss. Again, this will need to be on the outside of the outer trims of the sheets. Once we have embossed or debossed, we will mark up the grip and lay of the unprinted stock.

Combination – Embossing ultimately looks better with foil. This image has been made using a multilevel & sculptured combination die. Usually, fine detail does not work well with emboss because the depth is difficult to achieve in small areas and it does not show up well. If you look in the white areas of the dragonfly wings you can see the un-foiled emboss areas are considerably less noticeable. In fact, the general rule of thumb is the larger the area the deeper the emboss. Here we have used a flat foil to bring the detailed image back into our optical range and create the desired effect.

Contact us – Ultra Finishing are here to help you to create amazing pieces and will help you at every stage of your project, we love to work with designers and printers to help bring your ideas into life. For more information visit www.ultraservicesuk.com or send us an enquiry email info@ultraservicesuk.co.uk

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