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What is a Metal Print?

by Heartland Box March 12, 2021

What is a Metal Print?

Metal is so malleable and versatile, it can be melted, molded, twisted, and turned to create any object. It has been used in decor since humans discovered it could be sculpted and cast through various processes. When most people think about metal and photography, the first thing that comes to mind is the frame. However, advanced photo printing has enabled using a variety of surfaces in addition to traditional photo paper, including ceramic, fabric, glass, and metal. Thanks to sophisticated photo transfer processes, people looking to capture the unique qualities of metal in an unusual way can with metal pictures. 

Metal Photo Prints Offer Beauty and Durability 

Metal prints are created through a process called dye sublimation. Instead of just printing images on the surface, the image is infused into aluminum coated with a white base coat for lasting durability. 

The first step involves printing your image on paper transfer media on a special printer with sublimation inks made exclusively for this process. This print looks like a flat-colored mirrored copy of your original image. Then this sheet is taped to a blank metal photo panel which is placed into a heat press. The heat and pressure causes the sublimation inks to transform into a gas. The gas is absorbed into the surface and as the metal cools, the image and surface fuse and stabilize. 

Metal Prints vs. Canvas 

High-definition, brilliant metal prints offer a clean and modern industrial look. From a visual standpoint, metal works best for images that have bold colors and higher contrast. The surface makes colors more vivid than images printed on paper or canvas. Subtle nuances of color and pattern are typically lost on a metal surface. Types of images that can work well on metal include seascapes, landscapes, sunsets, and black and white photos. A bonus of printing on metal is that these images last up to 160 years, which is four times longer than archival silver halide photographic printing. 

Canvas prints are more traditional than metal, but they don’t need to be framed because the edges are wrapped. Soft and bold images work well with canvas and look great in interiors with simple or classic styling. Although colors don’t pop as much as metal prints, canvas is a good choice if you like the look of traditional prints. 

Digitize and Shop Around 

You need digital photos to create metal prints, so get them digitized first. Like anything else, not all metal prints are created equal. If you’re looking for photo printing services that offer metal prints, read online reviews specific to this product. Countless companies offer this service at different price points, including Shutterfly, Mpix, Pictorem, and Printique, to name a few. 



Heartland Box
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