How to Print Thermography

Thermographic printing is traditionally used in stationary, i.e., business cards, invitations and letterhead. It is also used for book covers, greeting cards, small postcards and posters. Thermography is raised printing that is similar to but less expensive than engraving. The thermographic printing turnaround is also quicker than engraving.

How to Print Thermography Using Stationary

Select offset printing, because thermography is a four-stage process. Offset printing ink dries slowly, allowing the printed sheets to exit from the press to the next process--the thermography stage.

Select a fine, medium or course powder depending on the size of the image being thermographed, over which the powder will be sprayed. Using fine power can take to the wet ink for printing small dots, midsized fonts and on fine lines. Medium to course powder in most thermographic printing jobs will achieve the best results. Any unused powder should be vacuumed away.

Then sheet is then moved through a heated unit, melding the powder and ink to create a raised thermographed image.

Select and experiment using several ink colors. Thermographic printing also works with screen tints using select sheet size. Using certain screen tints will melt the thermographic powder to plug up fine tints and fine lines in reverse of standard thermographic printing.

Experiment using the ink color (if any) and thermographic powder prior to print production to make sure that it takes on the underlying ink and the colors match perfectly.

Measure how much thermographic powder, ink and heat is needed to determine the rise of the thermographed image. If the thermographed image looks stippled and not uniform, then reverify the measurements of powder, ink and heat for a successful outcome in print production.


For fine lines, use fine powder to get best results.


Do not scratch or overheat the thermographed image, because it will not hold up well under those conditions; the powder will melt down and losing its rise and luster.

Keep in mind that you will have to experiment for accurate color matching, powder and heat rise of the thermographed image.

Thermographic printing is done by highly skilled printing operators.

The thermographic printing job cannot be stopped for press checks. Once it starts, it ends when the printing job in finished.

About the Author

Windi Washington is a Los Angeles native. She has worked for Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film and Conde Nast Publications. Washington began writing professionally in 1998 and holds an M.B.A.