I get asked on the regular what the difference between printing methods is so it's worth discussing here. It's very easy to differentiate and each has it's benefits, limitations and price point so it's valuable for every bride to armed with this information.
Engraving is the most expensive of printing methods and utilizes metal plates to apply the ink to the paper which is usually a soft cotton (read expensive and luxurious) as it takes the ink beautifully. The result is a raised ink with a cloud like impression around it, when you flip the invitation you will see the impression on the back which many people in the know will often look for. The more colors you'd like to use the more "runs" the invitation will make which means it adds to the cost. I don't get asked for engraving very often as it's becoming a luxury often lost on recipients but some brides (and usually mothers of the bride) will request it.
Foil is ever popular these days with gold foil quote signs popping up for sale all over the web and it's definitely a fun option for wedding invitations. If you are looking for light ink, even white, on a dark paper this is your guy. Most printing inks are not opaque but foil is so it's great for any color on a dark paper and you can science super shiny metallics by using foil. It's costly and as with engraving each color increases your cost. Tiny details and thin lines are not the best choice for foil printing as they can bleed together and turn into little blobs. Foil only comes in a small range of colors and you can not color match as it actually isn't ink at all, think of tin foil being pressed by a plate with you design on to your paper.
Super popular and the biggest trend in wedding invitation printing right now letterpress is an amazing craft performed by wonderful craftsmen. Metal and more often polymer plates are created for your invitations and then inked and pressed into paper, again usually cotton. Think like a stamp but it actually leaves a deep impression in the paper. Each color is an additional cost, sick of me saying that? Another cool aspect of letterpress is the idea of printing without ink...this is called blind emboss. Plates are created but not inked before being pressed into the paper leaving a colorless impression. A drawback is when used to cover large areas the ink can be inconsistent however if you are looking for a rustic or a handcrafted invitation that should be considered a plus.
Often called "the poor man's engraving" it was created to mimic engraving at less cost. Put simply clear ink is applied to the invitation and a colored powdered is sprinkled over the top, excess powder is shaken off and then the invite is heated, the powder melts and you are left with raised ink. It's not good for large areas of color as inconsistencies and cracking can occur. This is a beautiful choice for a bride who's looking for something elegant and doesn't want to go for engraving.
Flat printing can mean digital, offset or digital offset. Guess what....they all result in flat ink with no impression or raised effects. This is the best method if you'd like a lot of colors and are budget minded. Add as many colors as you wish when digitally printing and it won't increase your cost. When color matching or adding metallic inks it will be slightly more price as your invitations will be printed using the offset method. It's all perfect for large areas and shows intricate details beautifully.
So that's the basics! But then there's almost always the option to combine printing methods...you can't necessarily combine all of them for varying reasons that will bore you to tears if I start explaining but combing print methods can achieve some fun results and often help you stay on budget while achieving a desired result.
FLAT + THERMOGRAPHY
For the suite above we wanted to create the ombre effect but wanted to raise the ink for the text and it was a super success. So a flat printed background was layered with grey thermography and ta da! Perfection.
Hopefully this helps by keeping it simple! I love working with brides to find the right solution when it comes to their budget and the look they are going for so keep an open mind when considering how to approach the printing process.