How to Choose Hot Stamping Dies

By March 14, 2021No Comments
Milford Astor - A division of ALDUS Pty Ltd


From sizes, price point, short vs. medium vs. long print runs and storage requirements. Get all the information by reading on.

Hot stamping dies are the plate that contain the artwork to be foiled or embossed. They can be made from a variety of substrates, such as magnesium, aluminium, brass or silicone rubber.

Magnesium Dies (aka: Mag Dies) are the most common type of die used. These dies are available in 2mm or 6.35mm (1/4”) thickness depending on the machine and die plate set up, they can also be mounted to type height for lockup in traditional letterpress chases. With Magnesium Blocks the artwork is acid etched in to the block and then hand finished to ensure the highest quality. Mag dies are suitable for short to medium runs (depending on the substrate and make ready). They are quickly produced with a typical turn around of 3-5 working days. Magnesium Dies are the preferred choice for many operators as they are lower costing than Brass or Silicone Rubber and their light weight makes them easy to lockup on the press. Magnesium dies should be stored correctly by covering in grease and wrapping in cling film to avoid corrosion.

Aluminium Dies are fast becoming a popular option, they have many of the same benefits as magnesium (fast turnaround, light weight) with the difference being that they are engraved as opposed to etched, they require no special storage and are easily recycled. Aluminium is also 5 times harder than magnesium so they are suitable for longer print runs or harder substrates and are less susceptible to damage.

Aluminium also transfers heat much faster than Magnesium making them suitable for faster running machinery. Due to the engraving process dies can be made with a deeper “etch” meaning the print face stands taller from the backing area of the die. They also have steeper shoulders meaning when you want a deep deboss look or are printing on to a soft substrate there will be less “spreading” of the image compared to Mag Dies. The pricing is the same as Magnesium Dies.

Brass Dies are made using the same engraving process as Aluminium dies offering all of the same advantages but are a harder material again so are suitable for use on very long print runs or hard and difficult substrates. Brass dies cost approximately 3 times more than Magnesium or Aluminium.

Silicone Rubber Dies are moulded on to an aluminium base as opposed to engraved or etched, therefore the set-up costs of producing these dies is quite high, they are typically used to print onto a raised surface on moulded plastic parts in a process known as Tipping. Silicone rubber is used as it can withstand heat, and being elastic it will compensate for any variations in the height of the moulding. Silicone rubber dies are not very durable and care must be taken in setting up the job as if excessive pressure is applied the die will not “bounce back” and is effectively destroyed. For this reason we recommend that multiple dies are ordered for each job. Silicone rubber dies achieve a laid on foil effect rather than an embossed foil effect.

This informational article is brought to you by Milford Astor.

Contact us today with any queries you may have about this article, or for an obligation free meeting regarding individually packaged, or fully packaged solutions for stamping machines, dies, and foils.