SLEEKpro vs foil stamping: Which is right for my job?

proTIP #11


From a distance, the SLEEKpro process (commonly referred to as sleeking) and foil stamping produce similar-looking results. However, for you — the printer — the processes and considerations are very different for the two. So, that being said, how do you determine which one is right for you? 


In sleeking, we put down our toner base in the area where we want the foil, and then we run it through the Skandacor device. Under heat and pressure, the SLEEKpro foil, or spot effect, is fused to the toner, or digital ink. Once the excess foil is pulled away, and the sheet comes out the back of the device you can go back in and print surrounding imagery, etc.

So, there's a very big difference between traditional hot foil stamping and SLEEKpro. With sleeking, we can do all your variable data work and we can do short runs very effectively. Add Color-Logic's capabilities, where you overprint with specialty effects on top of that foil, and you now have opened up the gamut of 250 different colors that can be laid over our printable silver.

Where is sleeking NOT your best option?

If you're looking for a traditional foil stamp with an emboss or a deboss from the die hitting the sheet, sleeking can't create that, obviously. It produces flat output. But the inverse is true, of course, as well. If you have a two-sided piece where that emboss or deboss would mar the sheet and affect the duplex - the back side of the sheet - well, obviously SLEEKpro is a better solution there.

So, let's say we have a job, and it's fabric book covers. You're stuck with hot stamping there. It's been used for that application (to foil stamp onto fabric) for over a hundred years, and it's the best choice. So, while sleeking obviously has its fit, there are situations where it's not the right choice. 

Foil Stamping

The traditional way of adding foil was hot stamping, which was usually outsourced to a company that used a hot stamp die to do it. How that works is, the die is built in the image that you want, and then the sheet is loaded, and gets registered to the die. Once that die comes down and stamps the impression, it fuses the hot foil to the sheet.

This process is great for long runs of static information. If you have a large offset press and you're doing 50,000 sheets of a static image - every single one's the same - foil stamping is the better choice. 

Where is foil stamping NOT your best option? 

With foil stamping, there's no capability of doing variable data. Short runs are extremely limited because of the cost of the die, the outsourcing, and registration issues. When that die gets stamped, it's registered to the sheet edge, and if your digital print has moved, you may end up with the print and your foil stamp being off from each other.

So, whether you go with sleeking or foil stamping will depend on your application. 

The full Print2Finish session is available on our channel at this link:

We also have a series of articles covering various SLEEKpro topics including:

Digital Flatbed vs Rotary Die Cutters
Pros, Cons and Recommendations