Hologram Printing: A Complete Guide

Hologram Printing: A Complete Guide

Ever wondered how the process of hologram printing works? In this blog we’ll go through many aspects of holograms, production, and their uses.

What is a hologram?

A hologram is essentially a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface. The word hologram comes from the Greek words ‘holo’ and ‘gram’ which mean ‘whole’ and ‘message’.

When we look at a hologram, we see a 3D image, however a hologram is nothing like a normal 2D image. Inside is an encoded pattern of lines, known as fringes, and these fringes bend and shape the light to reveal the image that we see.

Another way of explaining it is that the surface of the hologram comprises many millions of tiny lenses of different strengths, which are set at different angles. When light shines through the hologram, each lens focuses the light to a different spot and all the spots, when seen together, form the image that is visible.

How are holograms created?

The first stage in creating a hologram is hologram origination, this is when the hologram is designed. We create bespoke holograms for brands across the world that are all totally unique while still fitting to brand guidelines.

How does hologram printing work?

Once the hologram is created, it can be printed onto a few different formats including labels, foil, and stickers. The hologram printing process itself is very complex and detailed – it involves several different stages and there are in the region of 2,000 lines in every millimetre of hologram!

Holograms are created using foils which can then be applied to several different materials, including paper and plastic. Holographic foil is very thin which allows it to be reliably adhered to a variety of different materials.

There is no such thing as holographic paper, so how does the hologram get on the paper or other material? The process of application normally involves “hot stamping” the foil to the desired substrate – be this paper, plastic or something else. Through the application of heat and pressure, the hologram adheres permanently to the substrate. The resulting holograms can then be used for a wide range of applications including tickets, vouchers, packaging, certificates, cheques, business forms, labels, bank, and ID cards.

What can I use holograms for?

Holograms are extremely versatile and can be applied to a huge variety of products and documents via hologram printing, stickers, or labels. Having a hologram on your products can also strengthen your brand identity, as members of the public are likely to associate holograms with prestigious brands.

From computer equipment, to food, medicines and security documents, hologram stickers are a flexible way to tag, track, trace, protect and confirm the identity of your products and documents. Here’s five of the most common uses for holographic stickers:

  1. Anti-tamper security holographic stickers

Tamper-evident holograms are specifically designed to highlight when attempts are made to remove them, making them ideal for ensuring security of seals on products and asset tagging.

There are various designs of tamper-evident stickers, these include:

  • A honeycomb design that’s left behind when the sticker is peeled off.
  • Stickers that disintegrate when attempts are made to remove it.
  • A secondary layer that’s revealed when the sticker is peeled off.
  1. Brand protection

Popular brands are always at risk from counterfeiters, and holographic stickers provide a convenient yet secure way to protect your products. Personalised holograms can be created that are unique to your brand, making it extremely difficult for others to replicate. In addition, special dyes, called tagganted foils, can be added to the hologram which can only be identified with a special reader.

  1. Packaging and promotion

Holograms are great for packaging and promotion as they’re highly visible and will stand out in a crowded shop. Hologram stickers can be added to any type of packaging including boxes, bags and hang tags.

  1. Brand enhancement

Many of the most recognisable brands in the world – such as Microsoft and Intel – use holograms on their products. For this reason, adding a hologram to your products can help increase the perceived value of your products and the overall perception of your brand.

  1. Authentication

Holographic stickers are frequently used for identification purposes on a huge number of different types of documents, including ID cards, season passes, credit cards and more. Holograms are difficult to replicate which minimises the risk of fraud. However, as with holograms designed for brand identification, if required, you can also add additional protection with tagganted foils.

What industries could use holograms?

Every industry has a use for holographic printing in some capacity. Whether it’s using hologram labels to protect products from counterfeiters or to enhance brand image, or perhaps it’s for security reasons such as on an ID badge, they are a versatile tool that have many different uses.

Here are just five of the most common uses business owners have for holographic printing:

  1. Security

Security holograms are labels that have a hologram printed on them for security purposes. They are extremely hard to replicate as they are made from a single master hologram and expensive equipment is required to create them. They are often found on retail items and products as a mark of quality. As well as this, they are used on passports, credit and bank cards, and ID cards.

  1. Official records and documents

Often you will find holographic labels on official documents such as medical or dental records, as well as certificates including those issued by universities. You may sometimes find them on documents relating to electronic appliances and components to guarantee their authenticity.

  1. Pharmaceutical products

Sophisticated replication techniques mean that there is a real threat to the pharmaceutical industry, with many medicines being fraudulently manufactured and sold. To combat these issues, many of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies have chosen to use holograms to protect their products. They are now widely used on pharmaceutical products around the world as a mark of authenticity.

  1. Official merchandise

Holograms are one of the most popular ways to mark official merchandise and limited-edition items. You will see them on many sporting goods, as well as designer items such as baseball caps or team memorabilia. Even today they are the favoured way for many merchandise manufacturers to protect both their products and those purchasing them.

  1. Bonds and stock certificates

Holograms are a modern way to print stock certificates. By embedding a hologram, it becomes extremely difficult to reproduce or fraudulently change a certificate. They are the contemporary equivalent of traditional seals and offer an excellent way to differentiate a brand.


What kinds of holograms are there?

  • Two-dimensional (2D)/Thee-dimensional (3D) hologram print

These kinds of holograms are most seen and can be found everywhere from ID cards to product protection labels. Technically, these are not holograms in the truest sense of the world, but in fact they are two or more images layered on top of each other to create an image that is visible when looked at from different angles.

  • Dot matrix hologram

Dot-matrix holograms are made of many small hologram dots, sometimes over more than a hundred thousand dots (and potentially millions!). They can create a beautiful impact of variable images and can contain many different security elements.

  • Flip flop hologram

These holographic stickers can be used for both security and branding purposes. They have a high-tear strength and can display two different images from different viewing angles. Additionally, this type of hologram print is pressure sensitive and can contain true colour. They are fully customisable and can feature excellent kinetic effects.

  • Electron-beam lithography

This technique is used for the fabrication of micro- and nanostructure and can only be created with the use of extremely sophisticated technology. There are many security features that can be applied to these types of holograms, such as the use of concealed or kinetic images, micro text, and true colour images.


How can holograms protect security documents?

The printing of identification documents such as ID cards or passports can be a costly process, however, the cost that results from document fraud is far greater. Discover below how custom holograms can protect security documents and combat the damage suffered by businesses and charities among other organisations.

Cost-effective and custom

A simple, cost-effective holographic label can be a powerful tool in the war against counterfeiting. The technology itself may be over 70 years old but holograms are still an incredibly effective way to safeguard critical personal data against tampering, altering, forgery and imitation.

Modern techniques mean that custom holograms can be quickly recognised but are impossible to accurately forge. The built-in details of the hologram cannot be copied, protecting the variable information on the document.

It’s no wonder why so many security documents now feature holograms. The protection custom holograms provide relies on the continuous innovation, invention, and evolution of different holographic techniques. Optical effects and material science techniques are often developed to ensure their effectiveness, while the production process is regularly audited to guarantee the hologram meets the rigorous demands of being used for long periods of time.

International Hologram Manufacturers Association

Hague is a member of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), an association of the world’s leading hologram suppliers and manufacturers. Along with the other members we are continually trying to advance the understanding, use and development of holograms to maintain the highest level of professional, security and quality standards.

Our hologram solutions can protect you and your assets which means safeguarding your reputation, too. We specialise in bespoke holographic printing solutions that are designed to address your individual concerns. Among our hologram products are holographic foil, hologram applications, hologram stickers and labels. Get in touch if you are keen to find out more about our holographic products, once we have your contact details a member of our expert team will get in touch to arrange a free consultation.