What is a Metal Print?
- What Is a Metal Print Photo?
- What Is a Metal Print Picture Made From, How?
- Images that Look Great as Metal Prints
- Where to Get Your Metal Prints
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What is a metal print, and why would you or your clients want one?
Metal prints are a specialty process for physical prints of your photographic images that are made by Printique from thin yet completely stiff aluminum panels instead of being printed on photographic paper.
It sounds simple enough, right?
But, if the process isn’t perfected, your metal prints could come out looking so-so (or worse). So, in today’s article, we’ll explore what a metal print is and explain why Printique’s metal prints are some of the best in the business.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Metal Print Photo?
When considering what is a metal print photo, it’s important to note that the way a metal print is created is substantially different from how most photos printed on paper are done. But first, the basic idea behind a metal print is: It is a physical image print that doesn’t need any frame or even a mounting board because it is stiff enough to stand on its own.
The resulting display of a metal print is quite stunning. You can add a very low profile frame to it or allow it to simply float as the image itself. Seeing a high-quality image made this way has a very unique eye appeal - it really stands out to viewers.
The reason your metal print is able to be displayed in this manner is because the image is printed on a stiff piece of aluminum. The larger you go with a metal print, the more impactful this type of display is. So, that’s the first part of what is a metal print.
What Is a Metal Print Picture Made From, and How?
Now let’s look at the second part of what is a metal print - how a metal print is made.
We already know the answer for what is a metal print made out of: it’s a thin, stiff aluminum panel. Somehow, your image needs to find its way onto the metal.
Interestingly, a better way to say that is that your image finds a way INTO the metal. The process used is called dye-sublimation. Dye-sublimation actually infuses the image into the material as opposed to being printed on top of it or etched somehow.
With the dye-sublimation process, the ink is not liquid but it goes from a solid directly to a gas and then back to solid again. As a gas, the image is pushed into the metal itself, becoming part of the material. This happens with heat as the driving energy.
Printique’s process looks like this…
A printing technician first makes a reverse image print with specially made inks. They carefully check and adjust the color profiles so that the final image will have correct colors (with one optional exception I’ll detail in a bit). They have to take into account all of the materials involved as well as the special color processing you may have already done to your own image.
Before the aluminum panel receives the image, the metal is pre-treated with a layer of polymer gel to aid in the absorption of the dye-sublimation inks. That reverse image print with its specially designed dye-sublimation inks detailed earlier is then pressed into the aluminum panel with a heat process.
The heat press turns the solid inks directly to a gas, skipping the liquid form altogether, and that gas is pressed into the metal where it transforms the upper layer of metal into an image. The gel can work with the metal and ink depending on your instructions. A silver finish turns highlights and whites in your image into mostly clear, allowing the finish of the metal to show through for a stunning effect. Or, you can choose for a more realistic color rendition of everything with a white finish.
The gaseous ink sinks into the metal, is absorbed by it, and then it rapidly turns back into a solid, again completely skipping the liquid state of matter. The resulting print is durable and has a depth of color that can look outstanding.
Images that Look Great as Metal Prints
As we’ve examined what is a metal print, we mentioned several times how stunning the final piece of artwork can look. So, what type of image works best as a metal print?
Realistically, any high-quality, well-crafted image file can become a beautiful metal print. But some styles of images do seem to take fuller advantage of the metal dye-sublimation process. Images with good contrast and exceptional color depth are perfect for making metal prints.
The sizes of the metal prints available from Printique range from 5x7” all the way up to 40x60” which is 3 ½ x 5 feet! You can also print your stitched panoramic images in 5 different sizes, or choose a Metal Cluster print for a very artistic final result.
Where to Get Your Metal Prints
Adorama has its own photographic printing company known as Printique which is one of the best places to have your own metal prints made. In addition to all of the metal print sizes and styles listed earlier, Printique also prints on canvas, wood, and a variety of photo papers. They make custom photo albums, photo books, and a huge array of photo cards, calendars, and gift items.
What is a metal print going to do for your personal photography or your photography business? A well-crafted dye-sublimation metal print enlargement is a beautiful work of art and will command attention anywhere it’s displayed!