Hi everyone! It's your resident product expert Mallory, here, and I want to talk a little bit about my absolute favorite product in the world: foil! Now I am not talking the kind of foil that is used in your kitchen to wrap a rack of ribs before you bake 'em...I am talking toner reactive foil.
This foil will stick to a printed design, essentially allowing you to print foil (well, kind of...) with just a few tools. And today, I am going to show you how I used those tools to make a fun print of a quote that I absolutely love, and frame it for my home office. Scroll down below the video to see a list of items you will need, all with links on where you can buy them, as well as written instructions for how to foil with a pouch laminator.
Throughout this how to guide, you will see some footnote indicators (for example, "¹", etc.). If you scroll down to "tips and tricks" you can pair that statement with a tip.
HOW TO FOIL WITH A POUCH LAMINATOR:
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
① Toner Reactive Foil Roll - Choose from a huge variety of toner reactive foil rolls, all available in three different roll sizes as well. Click the links for the ones you want to check out:
- ♥ Metallic Foil
♥ Glitter Foil
♥ Iridescent Foil (or what I like to call "magical unicorn rainbow foil")
♥ Holographic Foil
♥ Gloss Pigment Foil
② Pouch Laminating Machine - There are a lot of pouch laminators that will work well for foiling; here are the most important things for your laminator to have... it needs to have adjustable heat and adjustable speed settings. It needs to be able to handle a minimum of at least a 10 mil lamination pouch, and it needs to be able to reach a minimum of at least 300° Fahrenheit (but hotter is definitely recommended). I used our office laminator, which is the professional SpeedyLam 330R by James Burn (an awesome machine, by the way...I absolutely love it).
③ Your Printed Design - Your design will need to be printed using a dry toner (not a liquid or wax-based ink) onto a smooth, uncoated paper stock.
④Pouch Carriers - These are little white laminated folder-things that will protect your laminating machine from the foil. They are very inexpensive, so I recommend you buy a couple packs to keep on-hand, as you may need them if foil mistakenly transfers onto the carrier¹.
⑤ Scissors - Any scissors will do. Something to cut pieces of foil off the roll. A rotary trimmer may also come in handy to trim your finished design, but is not required.
⑥ Several Sheets of Thin Scrap Paper - I just used basic 20 lb. copy paper from my printer. You want your scrap paper to be larger than your print.
HOW TO FOIL:
Got it all? Great! Now let's get foiling!
① Design - First, design what you want to print and foil. I used Adobe Photoshop and some fun downloaded fonts (Amarillo and KG Girl on Fire) and made them a solid black. I then added a cute arrow with a heart in the middle, made a solid black border, and sized it all for printing and framing in an 8" W x 10" H frame. If you are using a metallic foil like me, then you will want the design to be a solid black². While designing, turn on your laminating machine, set it to temperature, and allow it to preheat.
② Print - Now print your design using a dry toner printer or copier. Dry toner printers are available for individuals, small offices, and large corporations in different sizes. The important thing to remember is that wax-based liquid toners will not work with toner foil. If you don't have the right kind of printer, you can check with your local print shop (such as Staples, FexEx Kinkos, etc.) to see if they do, and have your pages printed there. Make sure to print a several copies to allow for some trouble shooting and adjustments to the laminator. Also, be sure you print only on a smooth and uncoated paper stock, as the foil will not stick solid on textured or coated papers.
③ Cut & Place Foil - Place some thin scrap paper into the pouch carrier¹, and place your printed design on top. Cut off a piece of foil from your roll that will fit over your design. You can foil just a part of it, or the whole thing. Use multiple colors over different parts, if you wish. Place another piece of scrap paper on top, taking care to cover all of the foil. Close the pouch carrier.
④ Laminate - Place the carrier sealed-end first into your laminator.
⑤ Peel Off Foil & Trim - Allow a moment for your project to cool, then open the pouch carrier. It is normal for there to be static. Peel off the scrap paper, and then get ready for some fun...peel off the foil (that's my favorite...the reveal). Allow the paper to cool, and then brush it off with a soft bristle paint brush or cloth to gently remove speckling on the non-printed portions of the page. Trim your page as-desired.
Having some trouble getting your foiled print to look perfect? Check out these troubleshooting tips to help you figure out what is going wrong, and fix it.
• Foil Not Transferring: If the foil is not transferring, there could be several things to look at to troubleshoot, all of them very simple.
- ○ Is your ink a dry toner? Remember, foil will not stick to anything but dry toner, so if you are not using the compatible ink, it will not transfer.
○ Is your paper a smooth stock? Remember, foil will not transfer onto textured paper stocks...it needs to be smooth to grab the foil properly.
○ Is your paper uncoated? Foil will not transfer well onto coated paper stocks (sometimes worded as C1S or C2S on your box of paper).
○ Is your laminator hot enough? 300° F is the minimum recommendation that your laminator needs to reach, and hotter is better. Some paper stocks (like thicker sheets) and even some foils will need more heat to transfer properly. If your laminator is already at it's top heat, then try slowing down the speed. If you do not have adjustable speed or heat, then try just running it through a 2nd time. Note that it can only be heated a couple of times before the foil becomes unusable, so you may need to use a new piece of foil.
• Foil Transferring onto Page where there is no Ink:
It is a good idea to have a paint or dusting brush handy to lightly dust off the page after foiling, as some speckling on your page is normal. This will help remove those speckles. If they are not being removed,then your laminator may be too hot or too slow. Try lowering the temperature or increasing the speed and running a new sheet to see if that reduces the speckles.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Remember when I mentioned seeing note indicators at the beginning of this post? Well here are the tips and tricks associated with each of those notes! They provide more information on the specific topic, as well as tips for success, and tricks to ensure the best foil.
¹ In the above video at 2:20 you will see that I did not place my scrap paper properly, which caused some foil to transfer onto the pouch carrier. While the carrier can continue to be used, you run the risk of the foil possibly getting onto future prints. And since the carriers are so inexpensive, it is a good idea to keep several on-hand for errors like this. The scrap paper below your page is really only needed if your foil strip hangs over your paper (like mine did, since I made a gold border). The scrap paper is always needed on top of your foil.
² Solid black will grab solid foils best. It is the most saturated "color", so can produce the most saturated foil finish. Plus, you won't see the ink underneath, so using a different color wouldn't make a difference. The only time you would want to use a colored ink instead is if you are using a transparent underlay foil, such as our holographic foil (which come in either a silver or transparent underlay). This would show through the foil pattern, adding the ink color hue beneath it.
About the Author • Mallory Morsa is the product expert and content specialist at Binding101, and has been a valued team member since 2008. She started her career here in customer service, moved onto sales supervisor, product management, and then onto content. She takes a hands-on approach to products, and truly gets to know how every item works before she writes about them, with a goal to give you all of the honest information you need to make a confident buying decision. She has a bachelor's degree with a focus on management and marketing, and has been a writer, photographer, and videographer for many years. In her free time, she loves to read by the pool, volunteer at the local animal shelter in the kitten nursery, and snuggle her three furbabies while she binge watches Netflix.