As graphic designers we love to have our work reach an audience of any size (preferably a large one!) We have designed thousands of web pages over the years and they have reached millions of users. However virtually all of our work has only been displayed in digital form.
Not a bad thing, no! However it would be great to get this art work on a physical medium to be able to display without the need of a power supply and an internet connection.
Enter metal prints! Similar to the very popular canvas prints these are images printed directly onto a metal surface (usually aluminum). It has the great characteristic of being weather proof, resistant to scratches, and shows just the greatest and richest colors. They even have HD metal print which uses a process called dye sublimation (how a lot of T-Shirts are produced) which uses heat treating to transfer the dye onto the metal substrate.
And HD Metal Prints are simply brilliant. The richness of the color is absolutely amazing!
But what are metal prints exactly and how are they used? Let’s dive in below…
What are Metal Prints?
Metal prints are photos/artwork that have been printed onto a metal surface (usually aluminum, although sometimes stainless steel). They are often used to display digital artwork or photography.
Where are the types of metal prints?
Not all metal prints are created equal, and there are actually several different types of metal prints available. These go from the very common brushed aluminum print, to the hybrid “epoxy” print, to the advanced quality of HD Metal prints via Dye Sublimation. Let’s take a look at them below:
Brushed Aluminum Prints
Brushed aluminum prints are the most common prints available on the market. These are starting to become commoditized, as many services will provide custom metal prints on brushed aluminum, even if those services are particularly specialized in printing. This is usually done through outsourcing to a large print shop.
It’s called “brushed” aluminum because of the way the aluminum is treated. It’s brushed to give it a rough surface, similar to that of canvas, and this makes it easier for the paint to stick. It also provides a background effect on the image itself, which may make for a very nice complement to the photograph or artwork. See an example of this below:
Of course, they also offer a white matte version of the metal print in case you don’t want this metallic effect.
“Epoxy Prints” – Hybrid Prints
Another option is leveraging the same brushed aluminum as before, but this includes a layer of epoxy coating to be applied after the photograph/artwork is printed. Hence why I’ve coined this “hybrid” prints, because they make use of two different mediums to maximize the effect.
The benefits of this epoxy coating are two-fold.
First, it’s provides extra protection for the print. Metal prints are pretty good against many environmental elements (like rain, dust, etc.), but they don’t necessarily provide the best scratch protection. The extra layer of epoxy coating gives a good protective effect against potential scratches. Scratches usually are potential hazards when moving, shipping, or simply due to bad luck in the home or office.
The second benefit is the glossy sheen that the coating provides. For many vibrant pictures or pieces of artwork, this sheen can give a realistic (or even hyper-realistic) effect that can exemplify the piece.
HD Metal Prints – The Ultimate!
If you can’t tell by my wording here, I’m a pretty big fan of HD Metal prints. They really are the most astounding work of physical art I’ve seen. But what are they exactly?
You may have heard of the term “dye sublimation”, but if you haven’t, it can be described pretty simply, i.e.:
- An image is printed on a medium (such as paper).
- This medium is laid on top of the final medium (aluminum in this case, but this process is also used for t-shirts and stuff like that).
- The final medium is heat treated until the dye “sublimates” onto the final surface.
No matter what magic of chemistry is happening in the process, the end result is stunning, full of rich and vibrant colors. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at these examples!
These images come courtesy of Pictorem, who uses the Chromaluxe process. They have been voted the best metal prints on the market for a few years running, and taking a look at the end result, it’s no wonder why!
What do you think about putting your artwork on a physical medium instead of relying on the digital world only? Tell us in the comments!