Three Methods to Achieve the Metallic Finish

Three Methods to Add the Metallic Finish

The metallic gold/silver finish is a great way to add the impressive and luxury quality feel to the cosmetic packaging box. In practice, there are usually 3 methods to create the metallic look on the paper box. They are foil stamping, metallic ink printing and metalized paperboard printing.

Foil stamping

Foil stamping has 2 categories, hot foil stamping and cold foil.

Hot Foil Stamping

The application of the hot stamping foil has a very long history. It is among the oldest known methods of creating a metallic finish and among the most advanced in technical development. The metallic finish is created by transferring a very thin layer of aluminum coating on the foil paper to the intended paperboard by using heat and pressure. The heat activates separation coatings and adhesive coatings that affect the permanence of the resulting finish on the paper box. The process is typically performed after the sheet-fed offset printing, but can be done prior to the printing if the application equipment has great precision. Under proper conditions, this method can create a broad range of shiny areas, from large solids to very fine details.

gold foil stamping paper box

Cold Foil

Cold foil has been growing dramatically recently both in brand owner use and in technical development. The process is much the same to that of transfer metalizing described later, with the exception that the application of the metal effect is typically performed during the printing process when the paperboard is printed. A roll of vacuum metalized polyester film which has a separation coating and a surface protection coating is used to provide the metallic finish. This film is placed in contact with the sheet between printing stations following the application of an adhesive. The metallic coatings from the film will only transfer to the paper sheet where the adhesive has been applied. The adhesive is cured to set the metallic look with permanence to the sheet so that additional colors of ink can be applied directly to the metallic surface. With regard to the metallic effect, the cold foil can not rival the hot foil stamping at present.

Metallic Inks Printing

Two types of technology are widely used to produce metallic inks and coatings. Of the two, the oldest technology dates back several decades and has traditionally been referred to as metallic powder technology. The finished results of products using metallic powder suffered from a number of shortcomings. Reflectivity and brilliance was dull at best and resistance levels to in-use exposures were often a risk. The latest technology for metallic inks and coatings is referred to as metal platelet technology. Metal platelet technology has significantly overcome the shortcomings of the metal powder technology. Metallic PMS Printing uses the metallic inks to print a unique shiny appearance. Unlike the common PMS inks, the metallic inks are mixed with the metallic particles, which is usually made of the copper, aluminum, bronze or zinc. When the metallic ink is printed and left to dry, the metallic particles rise to the surface and create a metallic sheen.

metallic gold inks printing and metallic silver inks printing

Metalized Paperboard Printing

The metallic effect of this method is realized by the natural metallic color of the metalized paperboard. When the designer creates the layout, the area which are intended to have the metallic finish are left transparent. During the printing process, the CMYK inks are only printed on the text area and the colored area. While the transparent area on the artwork has no inks applied on the metalized paperboard. Generally, there are 4 kinds of metalized paperboard used. The metalized paperboard can be glossy or matte.

metalized paper box

Aluminum Foil Board Laminates

Foil board laminates were among the first type of processes for creating a metallic look on paperboard. This product is produced by physically laminating with an adhesive – a sheet of aluminum to a sheet of paper. The manufacturing process is very efficient, however there are relatively few companies involved in the production of aluminum foil board globally. The finished product usually has the higher grammage value than other metallic decorating alternatives.

PET/BOPP-Metalized Paperboard

The product is produced by metalizing the PET or BOPP film of choice and laminating the metalized film to the paperboard with an adhesive.

Transfer Metalized Paperboard

Transfer metalized film is produced to create a metalized surface on thinner caliper papers and when weight reduction in an application is desired. The manufacturing process is similar to cold foil transfer processes, but on a larger high-volume scale. A film is coated and metalized to allow the layer of aluminum metalizing to be released away. This metalized film is placed in contact with a paper or paperboard that has an adhesive applied to it. The adhesive can be applied in a flood manner, covering all of the sheet, or a discrete manner, allowing selective elements to transfer. The paper and the film is then stripped away releasing the metallic aluminum, which remains on the sheet only where the adhesive has been applied. The finished product is among the lightest weight options for metallic finishes.

Direct Metalized Paperboard

Direct metalized boards and papers are typically produced using vacuum metallization which deposits a very thin vapor of aluminum directly onto the coated paperboard. The resulting aluminum layer will take on the attributes of the paper fibers or surface profile. Very smooth papers will provide higher reflectivity than less smooth papers. Direct metalized papers and boards are most commonly coated with a clear coating. The coating will provide attributes for printing, exposure resistance features and final finish to the paper. The coatings can be cellulose-based or acrylic-based. Application methods will cure using oxidation, ultraviolet light or electron beam. It is one of the lightest weight options.

Difference between the Foil Stamping and the Metallic Inks Printing

The debate over foil stamping versus Metallic PMS printing has been lasting for a long time. It comes down to what elements you want to give the metallic finish to and the effect you’d like to achieve. Both techniques have their downsides, but both methods also have aspects in which they excel over the other.

Shiniest Finish – Foil Stamping

Foil stamping provides a more realistic metallic finish over PMS spot printing because it is the last thing to be applied to your packaging box. Due to the runny nature of metallic inks, they have to be put down first during the printing process. Each time you add new ink to the material (on top of the metallic ink), the effect may become muddled.

Best Subtle Metallic Effect – Metallic PMS Ink

If you need a more subtle metallic effect, then metallic ink is a much better choice over foil stamping. You could make a metallic ink the most prominent color in a presentation folder for a very effective design; however, you couldn’t foil stamp the majority of a folder without it looking gaudy and overdone.

Best Choice for Embossing – Foil Stamping

If you want to add a metallic shine to embossed elements, then your only choice is foil stamping. This is due to the nature of metallic PMS ink, which has real flecks of metal inside the mixture. If metallic ink were to become embossed, the ink would crack and the effect would be ruined. Metallic foil sticks perfectly to embossed elements, drawing attention to them.

Biggest Color Variety – Metallic PMS Ink

Both foil stamping and metallic PMS inks offer a wide range of colors that resemble real metals, such as gold, silver and bronze. They both also have a number of tinted metal colors in reds, blues and greens. However, since metallic PMS ink is a mixture, it can be altered to many different degrees, allowing for a wider range of colors to select from.

Since metallic ink is applied during the printing process, it is a more cost effective way to add a metallic effect to your marketing materials.

Most Durable – Foil Stamping

The metal particles in metallic PMS ink can cause it to become brittle over time. This has the potential to leave your marketing materials with a cracked ink effect when they start to get old. Metallic ink requires a coating on top to make it last longer. Foil has a much longer lifespan which is actually lengthened if the foil elements are debossed, because it creates a better seal onto the stock.

Least Expensive Option – Metallic PMS Ink

Metallic PMS ink is generally the most cost effective way to add metallic elements to your printed materials. On average, an area that is spot printed using ink will be less expensive than foil stamping an area of the same size.

Most Stock Options – Draw

The battle of metallic foil vs. metallic ink is basically a stalemate when it comes to the ability to choose a variety of stocks. Both techniques are particular and they won’t necessarily get along with every stock option. Foil stamping works on most paper options, but it doesn’t stick well to textured stocks like linens. Metallic PMS ink looks its best on glossy paper; however, it can also look subtly stunning on matte as well. It can also look too bright on white colored stock and like foil stamping, it doesn’t print well on textured stocks either.

Foil stamping provides a textural relief that can be felt with your fingertips.

Best for Fine Detail – Metallic PMS Ink

Since metallic PMS ink is printed like any other ink, it can retain a greater level of detail over foil stamping. Anything you have foil stamped must be cut out from a foil stock, which means that small details can be hard to reproduce without compromising the integrity of the foil.

Best Textural Effect – Foil Stamping

Since metallic foil is a separate element that is applied last, it has a textural quality that can be felt by the hand. Foil is smooth to the touch, like actual metal and is noticeably different from the stock used in your marketing products. This effect is heightened even greater when foil designs are also embossed.

The Conclusion

There isn’t an easy winner in the debate between foil stamping versus metallic PMS ink because it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Foil stamping is the best choice for drawing attention to your smaller elements like embossed logos and text, but metallic ink is best when you want to incorporate a metallic sheen into your large scale design elements. Both offer a different quality, and both can be just as effective at making your marketing materials appear strong and authoritative.

Shanghai DE Printed Box is a China medium-sized custom paper box manufacturer and packaging solution provider with facilities around 100,000 square meters in total. The company exclusively specializes in the supply and export of the custom paper boxes, including the paper printed boxcorrugated printed boxcosmetic paper boxrigid paper box, cardboard gift box and custom paper bag. If you have any questions about the custom paper box, or would like us to give you a price quote, please do not hesitate to contact us by giving us an email.

Green Printing and Sustainable Paper Package

Green Paper Package Printing In DE Printed Box

It is Shanghai DE Printed Box’s mission to develop the sustainable package (paper printed boxes, bags, and corrugated printed boxes) with green printing. DE is dedicated to use the latest printing technology in its various flexo and litho offset printing processes to protect the enviroment.

Reduce the Emission of Volatile Oganic Compounds

Volatile Oganic Compounds are usually abbreviated as VOCs. They are widely used as solvents in nearly all package printing processes, e.g., printing inks, press and blanket cleaning, fountain solutions, ink drying. However, the evaporation of the VOCs solvents leads to the fire accident (low flashing point), air pollution and workers health problems.

In order to reduce the VOCs emission in the paper box printing processes, DE Printed Box carries out a series of measures, for instance, using the vegetable-based soy inks to substitue the petroleum-based inks, switching to the waterless offset printing.

Alternatives to Solvent-based Inks

The convential solvent-based inks contains significant VOCs content that are derived from the petroleum distillation process. In order to reduce the solvent emissions of the petroleum-based inks, a number of alternatives are used, e.g., soy- and vegetable-based inks, water-based inks and UV/EV curable inks.

Vegetable-based Printing Inks and Soy Inks

Among the vegetable inks, the soy inks is the most popular, because the soybean oil is more stale. It is the most promising to reduce the VOCs emissions. The soybean oil acts as the vehicles of the ink pigments.

DE Printed Box uses soy inks for its litho offset printed paper boxes, bags, corrugated boxes and litho-laminated cartons. There are a number of specific advantages to use the soy inks for the litho printed paper package. For example,

  • Soybean oil is safe, sustainable, renewable, recyclable and bio-degradable. And the soy inks on the paper box and litho laminated box are easier to be removed during the recycling process than the petroleum-based oil.
  • Soy-based inks is more cost-effective compared with other vegetable-based inks and conventional inks, because much less soy inks are used for the same print job thanks to their more intense color.
  • The soy oil has the excellent stability throughout the entire print job. They are less likely to build up on the printing plate and to skin over. Much fewer adjustments are required by the offset press operator due to the variation.
  • Higher printing quality. Soy oils tend to be clearer than petroleum oils, so the colors can be brighter, richer and more vivid.


Printing Inks

Benefits of soy-based inks

Reducing VOC solvent use in the Printing Industry


Shanghai DE Printed Box is a China medium-sized custom paper box manufacturer and packaging solution provider with facilities around 100,000 square meters in total. The company exclusively specializes in the supply and export of the custom paper boxes, including the paper printed boxcorrugated printed boxcosmetic paper boxrigid paper box, cardboard gift box and custom paper bag. If you have any questions about the custom paper box, or would like us to give you a price quote, please do not hesitate to contact us by giving us an email.
























  • 挥发干燥:印刷油墨中的溶剂挥发到空气中,颜料固着到纸材表面。相对于UV印刷,UV油墨的快速干燥大大减少了有害气体的挥发,更加符合环保标准。
  • 渗透吸收:印刷油墨中的溶剂渗透吸收到到承印的纸材当中,油墨的粘度提高,颜料固着到纸张或纸板表面。塑料膜或胶片,金银卡纸由于没有渗透吸收性能,油墨无法有效快速干燥,传统的胶印工艺无法适用于这些承印物。同时,未经涂布纸板表面有着过多过大的微细毛孔,对油墨中的溶剂具有超强的吸收能力,这也导致印刷色彩不能很好地呈现。然而,UV印刷独特的光学干燥机制使其承印范围大大增加,即使在塑料膜,胶片,金银卡纸,未经涂布的纸材上面也能获得极佳的印刷效果。
  • 氧化聚合:印刷油墨中的调墨油氧化聚合,油墨粘度提高,颜料固着干燥。




  • 1. 超级的光泽度,出色的高光,或者哑光效果,色彩饱满,光泽艳丽。
  • 2. 超级的耐磨性,有效保护印刷表面油墨色彩,防止刮痕。
  • 3. 愉悦的手感。
  • 4. 环保,不含溶剂,不产生挥发有害气体,减少空气污染。
  • 5. 不需要喷粉,减少印刷故障,保护环境。
  • 6. 适应于各种承印物,即使在透明塑料膜,胶片,未涂布的纸张,卡纸,PET金银卡纸上面也可以获得优质的印刷效果。
  • 7. 油墨干燥固化迅速,缩短生产周期,提高生产效率


1. 印刷成本高:设备价格高;UV油墨是普通油墨价格的4到5倍;UV印刷操作工人工资高

2. 专用的配套装置:印刷机必须配备专用的胶辊,印版,橡胶布,清洗剂和UV油墨固化干燥装置。

3. 技术含量高,工艺复杂难点多:首先,水墨平衡不易把控,容易造成严重的油墨乳化,脏版;其次,油墨固化程度不易掌握;第三,对色序要求程度高,安排不当会影响色彩饱和度。






Shanghai DE Printed Box是一家专注于生产各种高档彩盒,纸袋的印刷包装服务公司,公司90%的产品出口欧美,澳洲各国,详情咨询: 张先生,QQ:630094561。

Shanghai DE Printed Box is a China medium-sized custom paper box manufacturer and packaging solution provider with facilities around 100,000 square meters in total. The company exclusively specializes in the supply and export of the custom paper boxes, including the paper printed boxcorrugated printed boxcosmetic paper boxrigid paper box, cardboard gift box and custom paper bag. If you have any questions about the custom paper box, or would like us to give you a price quote, please do not hesitate to contact us by giving us an email.