Hot stamping is a method of printing in which the printed image is transferred to the printing surface from a special foil by means of heat and pressure. This is a type of lithography in which coloured films are used in place of fluid inks. The printing is either raised or depressed above or below the surface of the printed paper.
A thin foil is pressed on the paper by a heated embossing plate. Pressure and heat cause the relevant sections of the coloured foil to become detached from the carrier material and become bonded with the printing surface. Book titles, book covers and packaging materials are often printed using hot stamping.
The principle is similar in the case of thermal transfer printers and ink ribbons. The ink ribbons used in thermal transfer printers specifically for the printing of films, paper and labels are also known as foils, carbon bands, printing films and thermal transfer foils. Each kind of ink ribbon or foil has specific characteristics that make it suitable for use with the material to be printed.