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Metal Printing 101 | Basics of Printing Your Images on Aluminium

Want to wow your guests the next time they visit your house? Metal prints are a modern way to display your photos. Viewing pictures of metal prints on your computer do little justice to the awesome metal finish in real life. When placed beside a traditional photo print, metal prints clearly outclass the traditional print.

So is the image actually printed onto the metal surface?

Yes and no, because there is a variety of methods of getting the image appearing on metal. The one we are talking about today is sublimation.

Sublimation onto metal is a new cutting edge way of reproducing an image.

Dye sublimation is a digital print technology that allow the reproduction of full colour images on a metallic surfaces. These metal surfaces, usually aluminium panels, have been coated with a substrate that allows for the transfer of image to the aluminium itself. Instead of printing images directly on a surface, which may scratch easily, the image is infused into the coating to provide permanent protection and durability. This results with a photo product that has a long lifespan of ~60 years!

There are many different types of finishes for metal printing:

1. White Gloss for a vivid and vibrant image. The colours are rich and the contrast is high. The colours look enhanced and looked like they are pumped up into HD.
2. Gloss Brushed/Silver to allow the metal to show through the lighter parts of your image. The entire image will appear a little darker, and make most images appear vintage.

Features of metal prints:

  • Frameless
  • Lightweight and easy-to-hang
  • Permanent and long-lasting
  • No glass or plastic cover which may alter the look of the image
  • Easy to clean
  • Scratch resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Reflective

Advantages of Metal Prints

1. Cost-savings: Since metal prints don't require any framing, you can save on framing cost. Especially for large format prints, framing costs can often be more expensive than the photo print itself. For metal prints, you can usually order with a wall mount or an easel at $5-$10, a fraction of the cost of framing.

2. Durability and archival: The surface coating is very tough. Do look for vendors who use high quality aluminium panels. Those that you can get on the cheap won't last because they tend to use sub-standard material. The Rochester Institute of Technology tested metal prints and they found that it can last up to 70% longer than traditional silver halide photo prints.

So there you have it! Metal printing is an up and coming printing method, and we are seeing growing popularity for large format metal prints in museums and galleries, areas like decor in corporate offices and home decor. Why not try your hand at having your photo printed on metal today?