The Durable Industrial Marking Blog

What's the Difference Between Embossing and Debossing?

Posted by Matt Martin

On more than a few occasions, we have been asked about custom metal embossing stamps, what they are, and how they are used.

In the world of direct part marking, there are a few misconceptions and misunderstandings that can creep up, often because industrial marking is a sphere that uses industry jargon that is not always well-known outside of the marking device industry.

The question “what is a metal embossing stamp?” is one of these areas of misconception and confusion.

The phrase "embossing stamp" is a technical, industrial term that can sometimes cause confusion for those not familiar with the marking industry.

For instance, if someone used a hot stamp die to stamp leather, it would be debossing, but the user might refer to the resulting mark (incorrectly) as embossing. The part used to create the impression is referred to as a die, but the image created in the leather is recessed (debossed).

The phrase “custom metal embossing stamp” is really a misnomer. There are custom metal stamps and dies that create debossed images, and there are custom metal embossing type and dies that create embossed images.

To understand what a metal embossing stamp is and isn’t, it is important to understand the difference between embossing and debossing.

Embossing vs. Debossing 

The first thing to clarify is the difference between embossing and debossing. Simply put, embossing creates a raised impression in the material being stamped. Debossing creates a sunk impression. 

The term "debossing" is more prevalent in hot stamping applications (leather) as opposed to industrial part marking applications (metal). 

Stamps, like the hand stamps shown below, have a raised area on the stamp face that, when struck with a hammer, creates a debossed (sunk) impression in a material like leather or plastic.


We also manufacture embossing type for package date coding applications where you have male (raised copy) and female (matching sunk copy) type that fit together to leave a raised date code (most commonly found on can lids).

This type of embossing type is typically used with canning, closing, and seamer machines. See below for an example of an embossed date code impression on a can lid made using male and female embossing type.


Embossing Dies

male and female dies (1)There are many types of embossing dies that are used in industrial settings.

Our custom steel embossing and coining dies, for example, are often used in the sheet metal industry to create permanent, raised letters, trademarks, code symbols, patterns, and other designs on sheet metals.



Custom Metal Stamps

Semi_flat_face_char_handstamps3We have written much on the Durable Industrial Marking Blog about custom metal stamps. You can follow the links below to learn more about personalization and customization with metal stamps.

Typically, however, custom metal stamps are used in low-volume applications to add a static part number or personalization to a material like wood or metal.

Check out the links below for examples of debossed marks created with metal stamps.

Custom Steel Hand Stamps for High-End Furniture

Antique Tool Makers Mark Hand Stamps

Metal Stamps

Learn More

You can learn more about embossing dies and metal stamps by contacting us here with any questions you might have or to request a quote.

Traditional Industrial Part Marking Guide

This post was published on April 11, 2023 and updated on April 11, 2023.

Topics: Hand Stamps, Embossing Type

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