The Vibrance of Metal Prints; A Trick of Light

The Vibrance of Metal Prints; A Trick of Light

Metal prints reveal the soul of a photograph. From the northern lights in astrophotography to the sparkling eyes in a child’s portrait, metal prints create a unique look that represents the true depth of the image and its subject.

In traditional printing methods (think paper, canvas, wood), a photo is printed directly onto the chosen surface using ink. The ink becomes stacked above the surface as two distinct entities. With Aluminyze metal prints, the dye that makes up an image becomes embedded within the coating of a metal sheet, creating a luminous effect like none other.

Beautiful Alaskan auroras photographed by Dale Frink, printed on 16" x 24" Aluminyze metal prints.

Are you ready to break it down? Don’t worry, we’ll explain!

A metal print is comprised of 3 layers:

  1. The metal sheet
  2. Base in silver or white coating
  3. Top polymer coating in glossy or matte 

Using high temperatures and pressure, the pores of the top polymer coating open, allowing the semi-transparent dye from an image printed on specialized transfer paper to settle directly into the coating. The high temperature causes the dye to turn from a solid to a gaseous state, allowing for the transfer. One temperatures cool, the dye is trapped in the coating. This is called the dye sublimation process.

 A transfer paper with image printed in special semi-transparent dye sits on the press before being placed on top of the metal sheet. Photograph by Ron Walker.

The sublimation process locks the dye into the top polymer coating layer, merging it with the metal sheet completely. 

The layers of the metal, along with the dyeing process, combine to create a beautiful effect on how we see the photograph: Light passes through the color of the image (remember, semi-transparent dye), reflects off the white or silver backing, and comes back through the color again before hitting our eye. This is why metal prints look so 3-dimensional and the colors are so vibrant, and realistic! 

Metal prints accomplish a physical depth to the image that no other print medium can offer. 

Whether you are an ocean photographer, a proud dad, dog mom, or someone who’s obsessed with the milky way, metal prints will bring your favorite photos to life in vivid color.

Trust us, it's the kind of thing you need to see for yourself.

Are you ready to give metal prints a try? See the magic of the metal print process yourself. Try a print today!

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