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Thermography Versus Engraved Printing: What’s the Difference?



Engraved Printing

Are you looking for custom engraving? Did you know there’s an alternative to engraving called thermography? Both Thermography and engraving are great ways to put custom printing onto a project you’re doing.

If you’re not familiar with either of these processes, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we are telling you the differences between Thermography and engraved printing.

What is Engraved Printing?

Engraved printing is the process of taking a metal plate that’s etched with a recessed picture or image. This plate is then covered in ink, pressed against the paper to create a raised image. Engraved printing can hold excellent detail and is the only method to print an opaque image on dark stock paper.

The process of engraving is popular among financial institutions and law firms. They use engraved printing on their letterheads and official documents because their characteristics can’t be reproduced on an ink or laser printer.

Read Also: Top 3 Pro Tips for Digital Printing

What is Thermography?

Thermography is a newer process where printing ink and powdered resin is combined to create a raised texture to your image or lettering.

A paper plate that has an aluminum backing is created for the invitation. Once the ink is printed onto the paper, the sheet goes through a tunnel that dusts the sheet’s resin.

The excess resin is vacuumed off then heat is applied to the sheet. The heat melts the resin to form a slightly enlarged, raised glossy image. Thermography doesn’t have the classic indentation on the back like engraving but will give a professional feel with great texture on your project.

The most common uses for thermography are business cards, wedding invitations, greeting cards, letterheads, and report covers.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference comes down to style. Both will have the same feel on the front side, but you’ll be able to tell the difference between the backside of the paper.

Since the plate is pressed into the paper with engraved printing, there will be an indentation on the paper’s backside. Thermography prints will have a smooth back.

Engraved printing has a more natural, organic quality to it compared to thermography printing. Since thermography printing relies on ink, powder, heat, and chemical reaction to puff the ink up, it feels less authentic.

You’ll get infinite detail out of engraved printing, and the texture is a lot more natural since it doesn’t have ink infused into the paper. This is why engraved printing averages about double the price compared to engraved printing.

The Pros For Engraved Printing

Engraved printing looks beautiful on formal pieces such as company letterheads, government documents, and certificates for authenticity.

They can also be great for things like wedding invitations and greeting cards. Engraving is also best for pieces that have fine detail, such as fine typefaces and detailed pictures.

Engraving is unparalleled when it comes to other printing methods with opaque images on dark paper or prints with heavy shading. Need more insight on engraved printing? Check it out here.

The Cons For Engraved Printing

The biggest con for engraving is the cost. The engraving cost averages about $200-$300 for a set of 100 4×8 sized cards. This price varies depending on the size and depth of your project.

Getting thermography prints can be done for almost half the price of engraved printing. Sometimes larger designs aren’t possible, and turnaround time can take longer. Turnaround time for engraved printing can be a few days to even weeks.

The Metal plate used for a project cannot be reused for other projects or purposes. This is also another reason why engraved printing is much more expensive compared to other forms of printing.

The Pros For Thermography

The raised ink in thermography gives a more professional look than standard inkjet or laser jet printing. It’s also a much cheaper alternative compared to engraving or even embossing. The cut in cost is because there’s no need to make dies like with engraved printing.

Thermography adds much more depth and can be done in a much more timely manner than engraved printing. Turnaround time for thermography prints is usually done in 1-2 days.

The Cons For Thermography

Thermography printing gives off a less authentic and organic feel than engraved printing. Also, the raised ink doesn’t go across a fold. If folded, the ink would crack or cut.

Another word of caution when it comes to thermography printing is the ink will absorb paper’s color. This can make it hard to color match if you are flipping through a sample invitation book you may like.

If you choose a certain color lettering, it may look different depending on the cardstock’s color.

What’s Better: Engraved Printing or Thermography?

This question depends on your style and needs for your projects. As we have stated in this article, both processes have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for a more formal and organic feel, go with engraved printing.

Engraved printing has the characteristics of something authentic and charming. But with these awesome characteristics comes a hefty price tag. If you are looking for something that has a professional feel but need to stick to a certain budget, Thermography might be your best bet.

This would be especially useful if you are printing in mass quantities. This gives you the best bang for your buck while still printing with higher qualities for a fair price.

Did this article help you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

James Smith is the writer for Munchkin Press. He is a young American writer from California and is currently traveling around the world. He has a passion for helping people and motivates others.

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