A seamless, brilliant, colorful, and exciting imprint of a memory on metal is the result of a special process that involves infusing dyes onto aluminum or steel sheets. In order to produce stunning metal photo prints, photographs undergo a process that transfers the details of images onto a metal surface. The process has been refined through the years, resulting in the excellent quality of the metal prints that we see today.
This art medium may be considered a technological breakthrough. It is not that surprising that we have this form of print technology today since there seems to be no stopping human civilization from innovations and creative pursuits. The process is already perfected, paving the way for a wide array of choices in terms of textures and finishes. Aside from a glossy finish, there are other options such as matte finish, satin finish, or sheer finish.
Impressive and vibrant colors that seem to glow are the characteristics that set metal prints apart from traditional photographs printed on photo paper. Although there have also been many advancements in photo paper technology, the unique method used in metal photo printing can produce a different effect that cannot be achieved on photo paper.
Metal is not the only non-porous surface that may be used to transfer images on to. Ceramics and glass are materials that have been extensively used (e.g. images on windows, mugs, car bumpers).
The first requirement in this is a special type of printer that is capable of using sublimation inks. Inks are absorbed well when the surface that the image will be transferred to has a special type of coating, which is also essential to ensure a proper transfer. There are many available sublimation printers, and many do-it-yourselfers have also successfully employed this procedure at home with very good results. With regard to the metal sheet used, the surface to be printed on must be sufficiently light in tone so that the colors of the photos will come through. A dark tint will definitely affect the brightness of the print.
It is also possible to print photos on metal surfaces for outdoor display. There are waterproof materials that are used so that the ink does not get washed off when water comes in contact with it. After a successful transfer, a waterproofing layer is sprayed onto the surface of the metal as an additional cover. The substances used to add a layer of protection to the outdoor metal photo display can also have components that protect the print from fading, a negative effect of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
The procedure is quite simple. Once the materials are ready, the first step is to ensure that the metal surface is spotlessly clean. Loose particles must be removed so a final scrubbing and wiping down is in order. The surface must also be degreased. Once the metal surface is clear of particles, two layers of coating are applied to it. Once dry, the metal surface is totally sealed. This is necessary to prevent oxidation that eventually leads to rusting. Soon afterward, the transfer process is initiated. The outcome is a photographic image on a non-porous, lightweight, and elegant surface that stands the test of time.