Metal Photo Prints: Everything You Need To Know

Metal prints are exactly what you need if you have been looking for the most recent way to display your photos in impressive colour and HD quality. Computer screens just don’t have what it takes to showcase the appeal of metal prints. However, the difference is unmistakable, given their jaw-dropping quality, if you were to see them in person alongside conventional photo prints. Read on to find out everything you need to know if you are ready to display that exceptional photo in the most impressive way. 

Metal Prints

Metal Print Coating Choices 

Transparent bright and opaque white are the two available base color coatings for metal prints. The main function of the base coat is similar to that of paper. This part of the specialized metal photo panel is where the inks are absorbed. An outer coating, which might be in a Satin, Matte or Glossy, finish shields the base layer.

A traditional but lively appearance can be achieved using the more popular choice of White Metal. It achieves highly contrasting and rich colors. While colors generally still have the same look you would expect, their appearance is enhanced in HD.  

The brushed aluminum surface shines through thanks to the clear base used on Silver/Clear Metal. Images will appear darker because the metal is actually the brightest color available, i.e. the white point. However, this gives it a distinct glimmer that can only be made using metal. According to me, this, albeit in a modern way, gives the images a modern finish. On clear metal, you can achieve a 19th-century daguerreotype look on black and white photos. This look is one of a kind.       

The base surface is coated using a protective polymer. A different look is achieved with the different finishes, which include Satin, Matte and Satin. The most attractive and popular finish is the Glossy one. The most vibrant colors are achieved from metal prints with this finish, even though there is some glare.

The lowest contrast is achieved with the matte finish, even though it results in the lowest level of glare. Closer to matte than glossy, the Satin finish lies somewhere in the middle.

For High-Quality Prints Consider The Following

The skills of the print service provider and quality of metal photo panels used are the two main determinants of the quality of the resulting metal photo prints.

There can be huge differences in the quality of metal photo panels, surprisingly. Professional quality metal prints are made using high-quality materials that are much better than the low-quality materials used by low priced service providers such as those found through Groupon. With colors that appear to be bland and incorrect, these panels can be quite thin. To get the best quality prints, high-quality aluminium and consistent base coatings are necessary.

High-quality printing services and expert photo labs use the Chromaluxe brand; on the other hand, there is a wide variety of metal photo panels that are of lower quality. Find out which brand of metal panels are used by your chosen print service provider. You should avoid anyone who doesn’t know what brand they are using.

To achieve the best colour out of the prints, you need the services of a highly skilled expert. The print expert’s ability to reproduce consistent and accurate colors determines the quality of the resulting prints. The right professional will have mastered the print production process as well as colour management.

The inks to be used should be calibrated and profiled to the metal print panels in addition to being of the highest quality. A digital description of the color properties of the print process (ICC profile) should be created to achieve the above. The metal print colors should closely resemble what is displayed on your monitor, but only if the monitor had been calibrated and profiled as well.

To learn how to get your prints to be consistent with your monitor, click here. Find out whether the print service provider in question has an ICC profile for their metal prints by asking them about it. This will not only give you an idea of their dedication to achieving quality results but will also be a good representation of their level of skills.

The Process Of Making Metal Prints

A process referred to as dye sublimation is used to make metal prints. To create the most durable protection, dye sublimation infuses the image into the hard coating directly, unlike traditional printing methods which are likely to damage easily as the print is made directly on the surface. 

Sublimation inks specifically designed to be used in the metal print process are used to print the image on paper transfer media using a giclee printer. The impression made on the prints resembles the original picture but looks like a flat, coloured mirrored copy. 

Before being placed in a heat press, the resulting sheet is attached on to a blank metal photo panel. The sublimation inks are turned into gaseous form by the heat and pressure applied. To get to the base coating, the gas goes through the metal’s polymer coating pores. The surface of the metal stabilizers and the pores seal shut as the metal cools down. 

Other Advantages of Metal Prints

Metal prints come with a variety of additional advantages in addition to the enhanced photo quality.

You get more value with metal prints. Framing costs usually exceed the cost of the prints; however, metal prints do not require framing and therefore create substantial savings. At a fraction of the cost of a traditional photo in a custom frame, you can get your hands on that is ready to be set up, if you place an order that includes a wall mount for a small 5 to 10 dollar fee. 

Metal prints are quite durable and hence better for archiving. This is all thanks to their scratch resistant and extra strong surface coating. You do not need to cover the prints with glass.

Furthermore, they do not fade easily. What is the average life of metal prints? In comparison to archival silver halide photo prints, which have a 40-year lifespan,  metal prints were observed to last about four times longer according to tests carried out by the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Metal prints are also waterproof since they are printed on aluminium. As such, you can use a damp cloth to wipe any fingerprints or smudges off the surface of the prints.

Sourcing Metal Prints

Metal prints tend to cost more, even though they offer more value. In comparison to a similarly sized traditional print, they are much costlier. Instead of ordering them from a big box reseller that then uses a mass production facility off-site, it is better for you to go to an expert print service or professional lab, especially since you will be spending more money.

From one service provider to the next, prices are bound to vary. To find a service that meets all your requirements, in addition to following the above-mentioned tips, it is best to avoid services offering exceptionally low prices.


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