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How Metal Prints are Made?

A frequent question we receive is how are metal prints made. Metal prints are made using a unique process called dye sublimation. Although dye sublimation has been around for a while it hasn't been used in the photo industry until more recently. Dye sublimation is essentially the process of going from a solid (ink) to a gaseous state, back to a solid state (image embedded into the metal). Because the image is infused into the hard coating of the aluminum panel it provides outstanding durability, definition and color. Unlike conventionally printed photos, metal prints are easily cleaned, waterproof and scratch resistant, and don't need expensive frame and glass.

More specifically this is how the process of making a metal print works. First, the image is reversed and printed onto transfer paper with special dye inks. The aluminum panel is then taped to the transfer paper. With the transfer paper on top and the aluminum panel below it is placed into a heat press, which is heated at approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit. With the pressure and the heat of the press the sublimation inks transform into a gas which is then absorbed into the polymer base coating of the aluminum panel. As the aluminum panel cools the coating stabilizes and the image is permanently embedded.

Many box stores and large photo retailers use cheaper and lower quality aluminum panels. At Pixel2Metal we only uses ChromaLuxe aluminum panels as their specialized coating is the best for a stunning and durable image.