Relief embossing

Relief embossing serves as a three-dimensional accentuation of lines, fonts and ornaments. This finishing method can be done as blind- or hot foil stamping. Till the 19th century relief embossing was a typical finishing method for book covers, but it lost most of its impact nowadays.

Technical background

Relief embossing is a plastic transformation of the used material. You need a bottom die and a counter die which need to be perfectly fitted into each other. It’s possible to stamp with a binder’s die or (rotative) stamping cylinder.  

Essential are the different degrees of hardness of female and male die. For the bottom die is a hard material needed like brass or steel, while you use much softer materials for the counter die like counter die paste.  

The transformation is not only achieved by pressure, but also with heat.


The plastic transformation with different levels attracts a lot of attention.

Application possibilities

Book cover, greeting cards, leather, linen and card board can be finished by the use of relief embossing.


Thick card boards or materials in general are hard to work with for relief embossing, but thin ones are great to work with.

If you consider relief embossing for hard covers, keep thinking about the resulting hollow space on the inside, which can be a problem during the casing in process.


Sources and additional literature

[1] Arbeitskreis Prägefoliendruck; Böcher, Hans-Georg

(Hrsg.): Prägefoliendruck, Verfahren, Technik und Gestaltung, Heidelberg:

Hüthing GmbH & Co. KG, 2005

[2] Beckmann, Till; Morlok, Franziska: Extra:

Enzyklopädie der experimentellen Druckveredelung; Birkhäuser Verlag, 2009

[3] Liebau, Dieter; Heinze, Inés: Industrielle

Buchbinderei. 3. Auflage. Itzehoe: Verlag Beruf + Schule, 2010

[4] Webseite Arbeitskreis


[5] Webseite Achilles 

[6] Webseite KAMA

[7] Webseite Druckveredelung Koch & Gläser