A Beginner’s Guide to Embossing Machines

comments (0) July 12th, 2019     

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JamesClarke JamesClarke, member
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Embossing is an extremely popular technique in the world of DIY and handicrafts which require a more artistic touch. You can find it anywhere, from card making, through handcrafted journals and such, to large scale industrial production of all sorts of ornate objects.

If you are new to this world, you can check out a basic tutorial aimed at paper and metal at this link. Nowadays, this elegant technique is executed by specific machinery. Even if you are looking for a do-it-yourself project you can do at home, you are still going to need a tool or device in addition to your own two hands. 

So, what are embossing machines, actually?

Well, it really more or less comes down to the name. They are devices specifically made for this kind of art. They spare you all the tedious work and fiddling with heat guns, fancy powders, particular pastes, special ink and all that jazz.

These machines are especially useful if you decide to concentrate on applying the art to paper and related materials, since they let you use something called embossing folders, typically made of plastic.

These have an embossed (raised relief) and debossed (recessed relief) design on either side, so you just slip a piece of paper into the folder and run it through the system to get the design.

Okay, how does this special device work?

Pretty much just like we described above. You pick a plastic folder with a design that you like and insert a sheet of paper or a card into it. Then you insert the folder into the machine (this is called "feeding") and run the thing. Depending on the particular kind of hardware that you have, you may need to stick this "sandwich" between two plates. The embosser will then apply pressure to both sides, and thus your chosen design is permanently set into the paper or card.

Having said that, do not think that paper and cards are your only options! This can be applied to tons of materials, e.g. leather, metal, rubber and so on. Different tools are better suited to different types of embossing work, so you should do some research online before you commit. Rather than random reviews or Wikipedia, try a topic-specific web page such as cuttingmachinereviews.com to get more relevant information for your interests.

What kinds of these systems are there?

Ironically enough, you will never be able to find "just an embossing machine", so already we are talking about combinations rather than standard "kinds". That might be a little confusing, but this is it in a nutshell.

Because this technique depends on pressure to work, a standalone machine is basically impossible. In the vast majority of cases, it is combined with the Die-Cutting technique, and so the equipment overlaps. You can learn more about it here: https://www.lifewire.com/diecuts-in-printing-1078019

Die-Cutting itself also employs pressure in order to realize a given design, so when you go looking for a machine, most of them come equipped for doing both. In terms of their technicalities, though, embossing/ Die-Cutting tools can be roughly categorized into three groups: manual, electronic, and computerized ones.

For a manual one, you provide all the elbow grease. Typically, they have a lever or handle that you have to pull or turn to make it work. This mechanism pulls the related plates and the folder in between them through, under pressure, to apply the design.

In an electronic setup, that process is instead powered by a motor, so you can save your strength. In the end, just like their name suggests, computerized embossing machines work following a computer code.

What else would you need besides the hardware?

Like we said, you will need special folders that are appropriate for your equipment, and of course the material that you will be applying a design onto. If you are looking to create a personalized card for someone, any cardstock can do the trick, so you have great flexibility.

If you are not sure what folders are good, check the machine's manufacturer's instructions if you have them, or check credible online sources, or ask the vendor what they would recommend for your type of setup.

posted in: Embossing Machines, Embossing Machines Guide

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