Three Options to Customize Cardstock and Paper Photo Frames

We occasionally get a client who thinks he knows what he wants but after being informed of our other printing capabilities and the benefits of them, the other option is chosen. So here are the three popular printing/imprinting options for photo and certificate frames.

  1. Foil-Stamping

There is nothing like the classic look of gold or silver foil glistening on the surface of paper. Foil is an excellent adherent to paper so it moves with the paper nicely. A metal (typically magnesium or copper) die is first created in the exact shape of your image. It is then used to “stamp” foil film onto your paper surface.

pink foil for imprinting

A combination of heat and pressure (up to several tons) ensures good adhesion. You are limited normally to 1 or 2 different colors per image mainly because each color has to be stamped separately. Obviously a drawback is that the artwork being stamped has to be a more simpler line drawing without too many details, shades or gradients (faded) areas.

Logo Foil Stampable Yes or No

The upfront setup cost is higher – typically $80 for a standard 12 square inch logo – but the run charges (actual act of stamping) are less because frames are put in high-speed machines. For us it is $20 to stamp 100 times. For color logos and other artwork the next two methods are very suitable.

2. Hi-Resolution (HiRez) Spot Printing



This method utilizes various higher-end ink-based printer technologies. Some of the major players are Epson, HP and Canon. At PromoFrames we use CMYK ink combinations. But RGB is also very popular. The artwork printed is just about WYSIWYG. So no worrying about altering your artwork as in the foil-stamping method. It is considered “spot” printing since it is more economically feasible to print a specific area of the paper – not the entire paper edge to edge (See #3 below for full-color). The larger the area, generally will be more costly. Because the run charges are higher than the foil-stamping method, after about 150 prints, this HiRez print method will get considerable more costly, but without the considerable sizing constraints of foil stamping.

A drawback is that you are limited to white folders since colors will show the most accurately against a white background. Most folders can be printed on the front, back and inside locations.

3. Full-Color Digital Printing

full-color photo holders

This is the most premium of the three services. It utilizes CMYK printing but running through a digital print press. It is full-color, full-bleed (all the way to the edge). Our company price starts around $3 as around a buck for much higher volume. A specially-coated paper (12-16 pt.) is preprinted flat. Then an “L” shaped piece is folded, then glued to make the appropriate folder. Here is a full-color folder example. Note that this requires considerable up front setup work so expect to pay a setup fee and/or minimums (typically 100 to 150 units). If you have a larger event that requires over 1,000 units, you should consider this option since you can print the entire front, back and frame border with anything you want. To print on the inside cover, there will be an upcharge.

I hope you found this blog entry helpful in understanding the major print technologies, at least with photo and certificate holders, so that you can make an informed choice for you or your clients. This should also apply to most customization on other flat cardstock-based products.