A Primer on Thermographic Printing

Thermography, also known as Raised Ink Printing and Offset thermography, is a low-cost alternative to traditional engraving and embossing that produces the same three-dimensional impression. Thermography is often considered a superior printing technique that elevates any printed product.

You may be surprised to learn that thermography printing has been around since the early 1900s. Stay with me here, and I’ll teach you everything you need to know about thermography printing, from its beginnings to its present applications.

A Brief History of Thermographic Printing

Have you heard about infrared printing? The term thermography printing refers to two forms of printing that use heat to create images or text on paper. The most basic method of thermographic printing makes use of paper coated in a substance that changes color when heated. Thermal printing is the method used by older fax machines and cash register printers. It is also possible to print using a technology known as thermal transfer, which is likewise somewhat complicated. A certain ribbon’s ink can be melted onto paper.

When thermographic printing was invented, few documents were saved. As a result, its early past is mostly unclear. However, thermal printing has been present since the early 1900s.

The first time someone thought about thermography. It was a way to add some extra special effects to the printing process. Prior to the introduction of thermography printing, it was normal practice to dust powdered copal resin on wet ink, lift the substrate to a vertical position, and shake off the excess powder to generate effects.

Copal varnish resins are extracted from the sap of numerous tropical trees. The copal’s range of colors, from translucent to brilliant yellowish brown, is on full display when polished. Because it dissolves in hot alcohol and organic solvents, it is used to make printing ink and varnish.

The object would be put on a heat source, such as a specialized hot plate, to melt the powder and get the desired raised printing appearance.

Until the first automatic thermography equipment was produced in 1915, thermography required a significant deal of experience. According to legend, the Virkotype Company invented the first self-operating thermograph. In 1920, the Carlson Company began exporting Virkotype hardware and software to Europe. Because of its reduced cost and wider accessibility, thermographic printing swiftly supplanted engraving copper or steel as the favored way of adding embossing effects to ink.

Thermography became more popular after WWII. As powders and equipment improved, more printers began to use the approach. Thermographic printing has grown greatly since 1900, becoming a typical printing technology capable of elevating any piece of stationery.

How Does Thermography Work?

Thermography is a phase that happens after printing and is done with thermography machines in addition to traditional printing methods.

In a specialized process known as thermography, offset printing ink is blended with powdered resin, which is then baked to cause the resin to rise and give the ink a raised, textured look. To begin, an offset printer uses slow-drying ink to create the final product. Before the wet printed sheets are sent, a resin-dusting tunnel adds resin to the inked spots and eliminates any surplus. The resin is then heated until it melts, resulting in a somewhat bigger, glassy, elevated image. Different varieties of powder are used in thermography, including fine, medium, coarse, dull, matte, and glossy powder. Because of their transparency, the granules take on the color of the ink beneath them. Transparent ink can be used to create designs that are designed to be seen through.

When Should Thermography Printing Be Used?

The majority of clients who use thermographic printing services do so to manufacture business cards and other office stationery. It’s also utilized for things like wedding invitations, greeting cards, report covers, and other advertising materials that need to be printed. To create distinct visual effects, thermography can only be employed in certain spots on the sheet.

It can also be used to print Braille text. It is sometimes used to print diplomas as an alternative to the more expensive and time-consuming procedure of engraved embossing.

The Colors of Thermographic Printing

Most of the time, a translucent powder is required so that the raised region can take on the color of the printed ink. There are numerous different powders available, including white, gold, silver, copper, and even glow-in-the-dark powders.

Thermography Printing Has Many Advantages

Raised printing produces a professional, eye-catching print. Thermography is a far less expensive option than engraving or embossing. It gives the printed material a haptic dimension. The ink on the printed product is totally dry after going through the heat tunnel, allowing for quick trimming and packaging.

How to Make a High-Quality Thermographic Print

When planning a thermography printing project, consider the following tips. You should also speak with the specialists at TEAM Concept Printing to go over your options and ensure the finest potential results with your project.

  • Screens and halftones are not advised for thermography because powder can fill the non-image area. For the same reason, strive to avoid both complex and microscopic pieces. Maintain a score of seven or less.
  • The sizes of thermographic images are not limited. Large regions of color, on the other hand, may form blisters.
  • Thermography can be done on both coated and uncoated paper. The uncoated sheets stand out as a different visual alternative to the glossy thermography surface.
  • Coverings with basic weights ranging from 20 lb to triple that thickness can be used. Avoid using textured materials if you want your prints to look their best.

What You Should Know About Thermal Printing

  • Thermographic printing provides several advantages over other printing technologies, such as engraving, including faster printing and lower costs.
  • This printing technique works best when used on smooth paper. Images appear coarser when printed on textured or heavily grainy paper.
  • Envelopes and bumper stickers are only two examples of what thermography can be used for.
  • Wet paper curled up near a heating source is a fire hazard.
  • Curling can occur in some papers when exposed to certain levels of humidity. This can be readily corrected by flipping the paper over.


The quality of your printed materials may determine the success of your advertising and brand-building initiatives. You should investigate the company’s trustworthiness to verify that they can effectively translate your ideas into textual form. TEAM Concept Printing strives to meet the demands of our customers by offering a variety of options. More information can be found by clicking here.

Brandon Elias

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