Compatibility of metal stamping machine fonts across vendors?

Thomas Phinney's picture

I am shopping for a used hot foil stamping machine.

One thing I'm wondering about: how cross-manufacturer compatible is the type used by these machines? For example, if I buy a Howard machine, can it use type from old Kingsley machines? If so, can the type be mixed or is it only compatible if used separately, due to height differences?

Pardon the cross-posting with ATypI list. I am guessing that even in these crowds, this is pretty obscure!

HVB's picture

No knowledge whatsoever, but a little internet searching revealed a couple of manufacturers who advertise such as "Our Kwikprint fonts are universally compatible with most foil stamping machines"

oldnick's picture

If the machine originally sold with type designed specifically for it, avoid it like the plague. Otherwise, a practical, serviceable hot-stamping machine will use the same type as any other machine in a letterpress shop—off-the-shelf foundry type.

Jens Kutilek's picture

Otherwise, a practical, serviceable hot-stamping machine will use the same type as any other machine in a letterpress shop—off-the-shelf foundry type.

Really? I admit I have only limited knowledge about hot foil stamping machines, but the one we had in the bookbinding workshop at university used brass type. I assumed there was a reason for that, like different heat conductivity compared to lead type.

Joshua Langman's picture

Yes, my limited experience with these machines suggests they all need brass type, not lead (foundry) type.

oldnick's picture

Lead type? Lead is common enough in linecasting slugs, but most foundry type was made of sterner stuff...

http://books.google.com/books?id=T4DnAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA3-PR4&lpg=RA3-PR4&dq=...

Thomas Phinney's picture

Type specifically made for hot foil stamping machines is generally brass or zinc. Although the standard temperatures used are not enough to actually melt metal type, they do soften it a little and cause it to wear faster. I don't know how much faster. For light usage and one-off printing I expect to mostly do, I am in principle willing to try foundry type as well. But I'd rather use the "right stuff" where possible.

For the composition of foundry type, even cold metal type has always been an alloy, and always mostly lead. According to Carter’s A View of Early Typography, Plantin in 1580 used “82 per cent lead, 9 per cent tin, and 6 per cent antimony, with a little copper. The modern standard for a hard typefounder’s alloy is about 15 per cent tin, 25 per cent antimony, and 60 per cent lead with a trace of copper.” However, smaller foundry metal type often had a higher tin content to give it the fluidity necessary to get into small cavities.

Thomas Phinney's picture

BTW, I ended up buying a Kingsley M-101 machine. It should arrive on Saturday. Since most of the hot stamping type out there is Kingsley stuff, that resolves any compatibility worry.

Joshua Langman's picture

Foundry type has always been mostly lead. It may simply have slightly more tin or antimony (or, rarely, a bit of copper) than hot metal type.

BernardBNYC's picture

I have been doing some hot foil stamping on book covers and spines (bookcloth) and I would appreciate any comments or information on using foundry type in a hot foil stamping machine. While the foundry type is softer than that used in hot foil type I think that it would work for small runs, maybe 2 or 3 covers. I base this on the fact that foundry type, which I understand is lead, has a melting point above 600 degrees while hot stamping requires 300 degrees or less.

charles ellertson's picture

Just a BTW -- some alloys used with lead -- antimony, and I believe zink, lower it's melting temperature. Odd situation: the alloys that give more strength lower the melting point.

BernardBNYC's picture

Thank you. I never considered that. I am starting to think that it may not be feasible to use the foundry type. If someone as used foundry type for hot foil stamping please let me know what your experience was . Alternately, I will try to get a few pieces of foundry type and try it. When I do I will post the results.

BernardBNYC's picture

I have move this discussion to http://typophile.com/node/115115

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