We are often asked to quote FOIL paper-or-paperboard when that is not at all what is required or wanted.  Usually, what the end-user wants is a metallic-reflective-shiny-sparkly-dull look.  So, we ask FOIL or MET/PET?  Virtually identical in appearance, both use aluminum to provide their reflective nature.

FOIL is aluminum foil, the same aluminum foil you used last Thanksgiving to keep your bird from burning.  One side is shiny and one side is dull.  When a customer wants a lamination with a shiny FOIL finish, we glue the dull side to the substrate; when a customer wants a dull FOIL finish, we glue the shiny side to the substrate.

MET/PET (or MPET) on the other hand is a little more complex.  The MET of MET/PET refers to the metallization (or metallisation) of a film by the physical vapour deposition of aluminum The PET of MET/PET refers to the film: polyethylene terephthalate; only scientists would have a word with “phth.”   The material we use is actually BIAXIALLY ORIENTED PET!  boo-yah!   It is easy to understand why it is just called PET!

Do you feel smarter yet?

At Midwest Laminating we laminate BOTH to substrates and most often laminate the MET/PET with metal side up to provide the greatest reflectivity.

Of course, we coat every FOIL and MET/PET job to give the printer a surface with the very best ink adhesion.  Since we use the most expensive coating, you MAY see a slightly higher price…you WILL experience a better print surface.

So, which is better?  Which should be used?



  • FOIL is readily available and bright and dull are sides of the same sheet
  • MET/PET is readily available as bright, dull often has longer lead times

Consistent Appearance

  • FOIL can appear differently from order-to-order, even roll-to-roll within the same lot
  • MET/PET is the better surface for consistent appearance

Dead Fold – remains folded when folded

  • FOIL is far better because it is a metal
  • MET/PET folded sheets tend to resist staying folded because of the memory characteristics of the film  – the best score of  MET/PET will come from a heated die


  • FOIL is better for fine embossing/debossing because it is a metal and will retain any/every impression-dent-scratch
  • MET/PET is better for deep embossing/debossing because as a film, it will stretch

Food Grade Compliant

  • FOIL is obviously food grade compliant  EXCEPT for GOLD FOIL
  • MET/PET is food grade compliant and a  GOLD MET/PET (also food grade compliant) is available


  • Generally speaking, FOIL and MET/PET laminated paper/paperboard are close in price.  Naturally, pricing is dependent on the quantity and the turn-time needed by the customer.   Sometimes we may need to use a roll on-hand that isn’t the perfect fit, but the best fit for the project. 

Recyclable – our adhesives are water-based and recyclable

  • FOIL is recyclable…just like your aluminum beverage cans
  • MET/PET is recyclable…many water bottles are made of  PET, regarding the aluminum…see the note above

RF Protection

  • FOIL is the better laminate for RF protection, it is solid aluminum
  • MET/PET is a light dusting of aluminum and therefore not as opaque as FOIL

Score Cracks

  • FOIL has a tendency to crack on the fold of thicker materials
  • MET/PET will not crack because film stretches


  • FOIL is not as shiny-bright as  MET/PET
  • MET/PET has a shinier-brighter appearance which is enhanced by the reflective nature of the PET

Smoothness – substrates are a primary source for smoothness

  • FOIL will take-on the landscape of the substrate – every hill, valley and imperfection will be magnified by the FOIL laminate
  • MET/PET will provide a smoother finish

So, the next time a project requires a metallic-reflective-shiny-sparkly-dull look, consider the end-use, the appropriate attributes and with confidence, order FOIL or MET/PET.

With no minimums and a centralized location in Chicago…we should be your one-stop-shop for all things laminated!

We thank you for the opportunities you send our way, and ready to help with your next metallic-reflective-shiny-sparkly-dull project.