Printing companies use different techniques to offer a wide range of business card choices. The techniques of engraving and embossing each work to create depth to the card. Embossing does it by raising the letters or image, while engraving depresses the letters or image.
An embossed business card has raised ink that makes the letters or pattern stand out against the background. Printers emboss cards by creating a metal plate bearing the desired words or images. The card stock is then pressed between the plate and a firm backing such as a counter. Embossing works best for cards of a heavier weight or thickness and on less detailed but better spaced-out art or letters. Embossing causes the raised areas to take up more room by stretching, so anything too close together could cause letters or images to become blurred or compressed.
The engraving process is probably more familiar to anyone who has ever had an item customized with a name. Printers etch the words or design into the surface of the business card, which creates a depressed image with the card itself in the foreground. Laser cutting allows printers a greater degree of precision. It also gives customers the ability to choose from unconventional card materials such as metal or wood.