January 28, 2022 The Print Authority

Thermography Printing: How it Works & Best Business Uses

If you’ve seen a beautiful business card or wedding invitation with shiny, raised lettering, chances are you saw thermography printing. This offset printing technique dates back to approximately 1905, and it adds a layer of beauty to printed communications.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about thermography printing, including its process, benefits, costs, design tips, and more.

What Is Thermography Printing?

If you’re wondering, “What is the raised style of printing?”, we’re here to explain it to you. Thermography printing, or “raised printing,” is a 3D printed effect achieved through a special, three-step process of powdering, vacuuming, and heating. These three steps occur one after the other, immediately after printing. Typically, all three steps occur along a conveyor belt in one machine. Let’s talk about each of them.


The first step in the raised ink printing process is powdering. After a sheet has been printed and before the ink has dried, it is run through a machine that coats the entire sheet with powdered resin. This resin adheres only to the wet ink.


Once the sheet has been powdered, it then passes under a vacuum. Since the resin adheres only to the wet ink, the rest of the resin that is lying on the dry paper is therefore easily vacuumed away from the unprinted areas.

Depending on the thermography machine, this excess resin can sometimes be collected and reused in future raised ink printing.


The sheet then passes through a heating unit which melts the resin. It can be heated up to 900 to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit for up to three seconds. As the resin melts, it draws up the underlying ink and cures instantly, raising the ink on the surface of the paper.

Once the paper has been heated and the resin has cured, the paper is then removed from the heating unit and cools. The thermography process is now finished.

What Is Thermography Printing Typically Used For?

Thermography printing is an excellent stylistic choice for elegant printed items that make a statement. Here are five practical uses for thermography printing.

thermography printing services

Thermography Business Cards

Raised ink is perfect for adding something special to your business card. Thermography printing adds texture that looks and feels good for your professional leave behind. Your business card, and your company brand, are sure to stand out from the rest of the crowd with that extra-special look.

Thermography Stationery

Raised ink is the perfect way to personalize stationery. Whether for business or personal use, thermography printing makes any piece of paper your own. It’s a fantastic way to send out personalized letters while showcasing your professionalism and eye for aesthetics all in one go.

Thermography Notecards

Similar to business cards, raised ink looks very aesthetically pleasing on notecards. Raised ink is a great way to personalize a notecard that could otherwise look very plain. Notecard thermography printing can include asides, fun facts, or miscellaneous information for activities, studying, and the like!

Thermography Wedding Invitations

Want something elegant and personalized for your wedding invitations? For an event as special as a wedding, why not go above and beyond with raised ink on the invites? This will add a touch of classiness and elegance to the piece of paper announcing your big day.

thermography wedding invite

Thermography Greeting Cards

Say hello in the cutest way possible! Your greeting card is sure to attract extra attention with raised ink print. The receiver will find your greeting card meaningful knowing you went the extra mile with your ink choices.

Benefits of Raised Ink Printing

Thermography is a great choice for numerous reasons. Here are some of its most significant benefits.

Competitively Priced

Thermography printing is an affordable alternative to engraving. Engraving requires the creation of a separate plate for each design, which can be costly. Since thermography doesn’t require additional plates, it is more flexible and cheaper to produce.

A Pleasure For The Senses

Simply put, thermography printing looks and feels like luxury. The 3D glossy effect of thermography makes a printed piece unique in the way it catches light and feels to the touch. It brings stationery, invitations, business cards, note cards, and more to the next level. It truly makes an impression–pun intended!

Speedy Process

Thermography is quick. The entire process takes a couple of minutes once the product is printed. After the paper cools, the printing company can complete all other finishing services, including cutting, folding, and more.

Thermography Printing Tips

As you’re thinking about using thermography printing, keep the following ideas in mind.

  1. Showcase your raised design on only one side of a sheet. Thermography can only be printed on one side of a sheet because the resin on the back of a sheet will re-melt when run through the machine a second time.
  2. Feature thermography as a special design effect by utilizing both flat and raised printing in your design. This is a beautiful feature in many thermographed invitations. While many thermographed business cards have the entire design raised, it can be a nice effect to mix raised and flat printing for business cards as well.
  3. Avoid large areas of ink coverage. When large areas are thermographed, it often creates an orange-peel texture. Large areas of ink are also subject to inconsistent resin coverage.
  4. Avoid very small text, especially when using delicate scripts and serifed fonts. Small text can “plugin” or fill with resin when it melts.
  5. Avoid gradients, screens, and thin strokes. Thin strokes and screens (shades and gradients) have so little ink applied that the resin may not properly adhere, leaving areas where there is little or no raised ink.
  6. Avoid using thermography near the edge of a sheet, especially in areas that bleed. When the paper is trimmed, the difference in thickness in raised/flat areas can result in pinching and/or wrinkling of the sheet.

The Print Authority Specializes in Thermography Printing

At The Print Authority, we’ve seen a lot in over three decades of being in business, and we’re happy to share our experiences and what has inspired us when it comes to thermography. We offer thermography printing on all of our offset printed products, and we’d love to talk with you about your project. Contact us online or give us a call at (615) 468-2679 to learn more about our thermography printing services, and ask us if your idea is possible!