digital embossing header image

Digital Embossing

The latest thing in digital printing!

Welcome to the revolution in special print finishes…

It is possible to combine spot UV varnish with embossing, and it can be an impressive finish.  It is very expensive and a little unreliable.  Now there is an alternative.

The old way

In order to emboss artwork, a pair of metal dies must be produced, usually from magnesium, copper or brass.  This is expensive and mistakes require a whole new set.  The two dies are made to fit together, so that when the paper is placed between them and they are pressed together, an impression is formed.  Whatever is pressed outwards on one side is pressed inwards on the other.  This is almost always a disadvantage.

The spot UV varnish would also require a plate to be made specially for it, again at expense and with the risk of errors.

During the printing process, these two techniques would need to be done separately, one after the other, which requires the two impressions to be lined up perfectly.  This is practically impossible and the two will most likely be out of juxtaposition.  The spot varnish will appear to bleed off the edge of the embossed design and parts of the design will be bare.

misregistration in print


  • Expensive plates and dies required
  • Mistakes will require new plates to be made
  • Long turnaround times


The new way

Now there’s a new technology in the printing playground.  Digital embossing.  Using a process similar to UV varnish, but allowing much greater accuracy and lift, this technology combines the effects of spot varnish and embossing but with major benefits.

  1. it doesn’t require the use of special formes, dies, chemicals and solvents, and it reduces the overall energy consumption of the project.
  2. it allows for variable thickness through the support of halftones.  This give two benefits: texture and the ability to ‘fade’ the effect of the emboss and taper it out.  The texture capability allows for myriad design possibilities, such as recreating the texture of a leaf or a basketball.
  3. it is extremely accurate and doesn’t require separate registration and alignment measures.  This gives much more flexibility in its use, such as fine text or intricate artwork.
  4. because it is a digital process, it allows for over a thousand copies or just one, as the project requires.
  5. the impressed image does not appear in reverse on the other side of the sheet, so it doesn’t interfere with anything on that side.

All that is required on the part of the designer is a separate output file where only the area to be embossed is shown in black (K).  The process may add a couple of days to the print time, primarily to let the embossed area dry and prevent crushing.

black plate separation

digital embossing result


  • No extra plates required
  • Mistakes are easy to correct
  • Many or few copies as required
  • No reversed design on reverse of paper
  • Accurate registration
  • Intricate designs possible
  • Tapered or faded embossing result possible


As always, we’re here to help.  If you’re not confident enough or don’t have the correct software for making the emboss file, we can do it for you.  Just give us a call to discuss what you need and to get a quote for the job.