Printing an image into metal makes it more dimensional as well as longer-lasting. Metal prints are exactly what the words describe, which involves images printed on aluminum. Due to their convenience, archival quality, and durability, they have quickly become one of the latest standards to display and sell art.
There are two methods currently used for metal printing. The first and most common is a process known as Sublimation and the second involves a “light-table” process technique that uses UV light. The UV light is used to harden or cure the ink. At this stage, the Sublimation process is the most popular method.
Aluminum is the metal that is used for printing images on metal. This mostly has to do with its strength and weight.
Sublimation metal is frequently used for producing decorations, trophy inserts, name tags, and signage. The main metal used is aluminum, but copper along with other metals are also used. The aluminum sheets used for metal printing, also come in various finishes. Some of these include brushed silver, bright white, mirror silver, brass, gold, satin silver, and copper.
Sublimation metal is usually sold in sheets, but it is also possible to buy the metal in pre-cut shapes that are available through sublimation-metal suppliers. Most of these suppliers also sell different finishes like rounded corners, self-adhesive backing, holes to accommodate screw fixings.
Depending on what supplier you decide to buy from, sublimation metal sheets are typically 0.5, 0.7, or 1.1mm thick. These sheets are resistant, durable, and lightweight. Similar to other “sublimation-ready” items, the sublimation metal sheets feature a clear polymer coating over the surface of the sheets (this coating must be removed before printing).
The sublimation ink bonds to this coating during the heat-press process. This creates a bond that is permanent that is UV, scratch, and waterproof-resistant. Printing on metal using the sublimation technique is a simple process that provides amazing results.
The pressure of the heat press is the most important part when it comes to printing on metal. For this reason, you will probably need to experiment on a few sheets to arrive at a favorable result. Most printing experts suggest a low-to-medium pressure will work the best.
It is important to ensure the size of the design is correct to match the sublimation metal sheets. If the background color is solid, allow for a 2mm bleed around the edges to make sure you achieve complete coverage.
Compared to Regular Photo Prints
Regular photo prints are a lot less complex and require less equipment, but to do it right you still need some high quality products. A high quality art printer is crucial (don’t expect a basic office printer to do the trick). You’ll want to look for high quality laser printer, high resolution, and most people will want wide format as well (many printers are only as wide as office paper, or about 8.5 inches).