4 Things You Need to Know About Metal Prints
Buying a metal print is a bit of a different process than buying a canvas print or traditional paper print.
Not only do you need to select the right surface and finish, but you also need to consider the quality of the metal used for the print.
There are all sorts of options for mounting systems, wall hangers, and mounting styles as well.
With this in mind, let's explore four things you need to know before you invest in a metal print.
How is the Resolution?
Some metal prints look a little on the soft side. This can occur for a few different reasons, but one of them is that the inks expand during the sublimation process.
So, in some instances, you might find that an image you had printed on metal looks softer than the same image printed on a different substrate, like acrylic.
However, some metal print companies do an outstanding job of perfecting the resolution of their prints.
Earlier this year, I did a $100 secret shopper metal print shootout. Bay Photo, for example, got a 9 out of 10 in terms of resolution in that competition. You can see the print in the image at the beginning of this article.
Granted, the resolution of a metal print is hard to judge before you buy, but in this case, looking at reviews for a company's metal prints can go a long way in helping you determine the type of quality you can expect.
Look for reviews that mention resolution and detail, particularly in shadowed areas of the print. The higher the marks a printer gets for resolution and detail, the more confident you can be that your print will have the same level of quality.
How is the Color Accuracy?
Different printing companies have different color profiles, which means that depending on who you choose, you can end up with a print that's spot-on to the original colors or one that has a color cast.
Obviously a color cast is a problem when you spend so much time perfecting your shot in post-processing, so finding a metal print company with a reputation for color accuracy is important.
Take the Bay Photo metal print I ordered earlier this year as a good example of this. The print was definitely skewed towards red, which didn't make the print look terrible, but it wasn't what I wanted, either. I sent them an image file that I spent a lot of time perfecting, and that image file is how I wanted the print to appear. You can read more about my experience with Bay Photo in my Bay Photo Metal Print Review.
What is the Mounting Hardware Like?
While things like resolution and color accuracy are certainly important, it's not just the things you see on the front of the print that matter.
The type and quality of the mounting hardware can impact how the print hangs - which can, in turn, influence the quality of the viewing experience.
In the case of my Bay Photo metal print, there's a robust mounting system on the back that helps it hang level.
As you can see in the image above, the mounting plate is quite large relative to the print and it sticks out a bit from the print. This gives the print a 3-D look on the wall that I quite like.
As you might expect, the mounting systems (and the types of mounts, as shown above) for metal prints run the gamut from really fantastic to truly terrible. Be sure to investigate the types of mounting options a printing company has before you buy.
What is the Printing Process?
There are two primary means by which a metal print is made.
Some printers use the direct print method in which the image is printed directly onto the metal while others use a higher-quality dye sublimation process. If you want a print that has better colors and luminescence, opt for a printer that uses the dye sublimation process.
Also with regard to printing, you want to ensure that the metal that's used is of high quality.
For example, while Bay Photo came in third, Artbeat Studios took first place in our 2020 best metal print company competition in large part because of the ChromaluxeTM aluminum sheets they use.
This aluminum resists fading for more than 65 years, so it ensures that your metal print isn't something you just enjoy in the short-term, but that it will be around for the long-term as well! The print I'm holding in the image above is on ChromaluxeTM aluminum, and I think you'll agree it looks pretty darn good.
If you want to learn more about Artbeat Studios metal prints, click here to read our complete review! In the meantime, keep these factors in mind as you look for the best metal print company for your needs. The more time you spend vetting the best options, the more likely you're to get a high-quality metal print in the mail!