Posted 14.05.20

Published by Simon in the “Insights” category

Letterpress printing

Creating the right image

Let’s talk business cards, something quite simple, yet so many people get it so wrong and miss the point. We hand them out face to face, the first introduction, a statement of you and the company you represent. Yet, we see it so many times, people apologising as they hand you their card, making excuses for the company that they are representing. Not a good start.

With the ever-increasing demand for short run (cheap) business cards where 300gsm matt laminated cards has become the norm, but if they fail to impress is it money well spent? The alternative is something special, something considered, something tactile, a quality piece of print that becomes the talking point, instead of an apology.

Letterpress printing is an old craft skill technique, which dates back to the mid-15th century, a process of relief printing (emboss or deboss) using metal or wooden type. Typically you can print on specialist papers using duplex boards (2 sheets of paper gummed together) taking the weight up to 720gsm.

Other advantages of letterpress printing is that there is also an army of different finishing techniques that make all the difference, make an ordinary piece of print something special.

Blind emboss

Method of creating raised logos or character on paper without ink. In this process two metal die cuts are used; one with raised logo or character and another with matching but recessed area. When a sheet of paper is pressed between these two dies, blind embossing occurs.

Die Cutting

Die Cutting is the most conventional method of shape cutting. Instead of printing, the sheet is die cut using a flat bed tool formed to the desired shape. Internal as well as external shapes are possible. Die cutting shape are also used on packaging to cut out the final shapes


A duplex is the pasting together of two sheets of paper, making one thicker sheet in the end. An example – two 250gsm sheets pasting together to provide a 500gsm final thickness. the other advantages of using duplex is that you can have different coloured stock, so one side can be white the other a coloured board. Increasing the thickness adds a quality and make it more tactile.

Edge Printing

Edge printing really adds to the impact, it’s a feature that is often overlooked, but the impact can make all the difference. You can apply any colour (including metallic and fluorescent inks) to all four edges of a business card.


A process of creating a recessed relief logos or characters. An embossed pattern is raised against the background board. This process is very tactile and used in the right way can have the desired effect.

Hot foil

Hot foil or foil stamping is a foil application of metallic or pigmented foil on a solid surface of application of a heated die onto foil, making it permanently adhere to the surface. Typically foiling is used on wedding invitations and common colours used are metallic silver and gold. If used in the right way and using colours that are not often used (like whites) then this can have a lot of impact.

Crafted Packaging

Letterpress packaging , with hot foil and embossed combined with a die kiss cut can be very effective and create a beautiful quality label that feels hand crafted, adding value to the product.


Triplex is 2 boards or card sandwiched between a centre board, again this can be adjusted to give a final weight of around 500-700gsm An effective use of triplex is two white boards with a black board in the middle, giving you a sharp black edge all the way around the centre outer edge.

A bit history of Letterpress Printing

Letterpress Printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. The printer composes and locks movable type into the "bed" or "chase" of a press, inks it, and presses paper against it to transfer the ink from the type which creates an impression on the paper.

In practice, letterpress also includes other forms of relief printing with printing presses, such as wood engravings, photo-etched zinc "cuts" (plates), and linoleum blocks, which can be used alongside metal type, or wood type, in a single operation, as well as stereotypes and electrotypes of type and blocks. With certain letterpress units it is also possible to join movable type with slugs cast using hot metal typesetting. In theory, anything that is "type high" or .918 inches can be printed using letterpress.

Letterpress printing was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century until the 19th century and remained in wide use for books and other uses until the second half of the 20th century. Letterpress printing remained the primary means of printing and distributing information until the 20th century, when offset printing was developed, which largely supplanted its role in printing books and newspapers. All forms of data collection were affected by the invention of letterpress printing, as were many careers such as teachers, preachers, physicians and surgeons and artist-engineers. More recently, letterpress printing has seen a revival in an artisanal form.

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