It’s time to be depressed! Everyone gets excited about a nice, embossed Business Card. Hell, we’ve seen billions of cards and embossing still stops us in our tracks.
To produce an emboss, your graphic is etched into two copper plates: the Plate (male die) and the Counter (female die). Acids are involved with the etching, it’s seriously pretty awesome.
Your final print is then stamped between the plates. The dies complement each other so that when the stock is forced between them it causes the fibers to take their final, embossed shape. Debossing is a similar (and often misunderstood) process where the paper is stamped without the counter die. This results in recessed type and logos without the corresponding raised area on the reverse side.
Embossing works best with one-sided business cards, as your text and logos will appear backwards on the flip side. To avoid this subsequent effect, consider using organic textures or symmetrical patterns so that the areas that extend beyond the surface are viewable from both sides.
Keep in mind that type and other small design elements should be spaced further apart than normal, as the embossing can otherwise cause close shapes to merge together. On business card stock, use 2 pt. line weight, and at least a 10 pt. font for all text.
The plate and counter dies generally add about $100-250 to the cost of producing business cards, so double and triple check your spelling and make sure that your contact information is set in stone for the foreseeable future.
If possible, avoid making your name or phone number three-dimensional so you will be able to reuse the same embossing dies on re-orders, or if you have multiple sets of business cards to order for additional employees.