It has taken us a while but we have added some new large metal prints sizes. Most photographers I know are quite familiar with aluminum metal prints. These are a product that really began to gain popularity within the past 5 to 10 years. While they continue to remain popular with photography we are starting to see more interest by artists looking for an exciting alternative. If you are not a photographer, depending on your style of work, you may or may not find them suited for you or your print buyers.
Metal Print Prices and Options
Right now the sizes we have include half a dozen smaller sizes for table top or to be hung on a wall. There are a total of 10 sizes with the largest being 23×36 which makes an impressive display in any home or office. Like our acrylics, these gravitate to our users interested in a more modern look. We expect this list to grow and eventually include custom sizes at some point in the future.
So What are Metal Prints?
So what are metal prints? Metal display the images on actual thin panels of aluminum. They are not mounted on metal. Instead it is a dye infused process more commonly referred to as dye-sublimation. The look you get is one of a both a metallic appearance in your white points and a certain level of luster not available in a canvas or paper print. With metal prints these dyes are infused to a special receptive coating using heat and pressure. Not only are they trendy but they will be an incredible way to display your artwork as well.
How they are Made
There are no trade secrets here but I can imagine if any of our competitors subscribed to our newsletter, they might cringe that we love to show off how things are done. Producing metal prints is essentially the same process used when producing things like the ceramic tiles in our Accents and Decor products or coffee mugs in the Gifts and Keepsakes category. First the image is printed on a special type of paper in reverse (mirrored) with a dye-sublimation wide format printer that uses the required dye based inks. In this case the image is printed with an Epson F6200. The image is then place face down on the aluminum panel and placed in a large heat press which causes the inks to turn into a gas which infuses into the special coating on the panel.
The process is incredibly interesting and if you want to see a example of the basic process, we have a short YouTube video was produced by one of the major suppliers for dye sub materials.
Do Metal Prints Have a High Rate of Flaws?
One other method you may have heard is a print direct to the metal panels in which the metal panel is fed and printed through a wide format Epson printer via the giclee or inkjet process. This method will achieve a superior color gamut then what ours produce but it is very tricky because afterwards you have to apply a laminate film to the metal print to protect it.
We have not tried this method but one of the examples I have seen they have been stunning however even the smallest spec of airborne dust can easily cause small bumps in the surface finish. I suppose bubbles can also form as well if the laminate is not heated well or the inks have not fully cured. Overall this method is probably a good one for the small boutique color lab or photographer who has the right hardware but any color lab using this method will likely charge substantially more due to the high rate of re-do that would be necessary.
More commonly and the process our metal prints use is a dye sublimation method in which the inks fuse to a polyester coating on the metal. This too can be prone to imperfections such as chipping or slight flaking but not won’t form bubbles as far as I am aware. Generally, this is not too much of a problem or any any chipping or flaking is more likely to be visible along the edges.
Overall, most photos look phenomenal on our metal prints but be aware you will not be able to achieve the same tonal rage as you get in a regular photo print and especially not what you see with a modern giclee process which has the widest tonal range today when using the right paper.
Are there Differing Finishes Available?
At the moment we only offer a white gloss base metal and a matte / no glare version. There are also clear gloss and clear matte versions which give the metal print a more metallic appearance however which is better depends on the look you want to achieve.
More Size Options in the Future
Because of the popularity of metal prints we hope to offer more options and even custom sizes in the near future however we do have the most common sizes available at this time. If you have any further questions about the aluminum dye-sub metal prints, include a list of the prices and options please visit the Metal Prints product page or contact page.