What is a Metal Print? A Quick Guide

Submitted by Fabian Peters on Fri, 12/27/2019 - 17:40
What is a metal print?

Printing Your Photographs on Metal

Aluminum makes its mark as a backing with a unique color-brilliance and weather-resistant qualities. Unique surface finishes, sharp detail, a sophisticated appearance, and distinct details –the transformative characteristics of metal and aluminum might surprise you. At WhiteWall, we combine an innovative state-of-the-art printing process with supreme precision, to deliver museum-quality finish with every print

Metal Prints vs. Canvas?

Canvas is undoubtedly an excellent choice. With their classic look, and surrounding your picture with warmth, canvas prints make a lovely contribution to one's home decor. But they do have certain drawbacks. For one, canvas attracts dust, which can accumulate over time and distort the inks. Another major consideration is how canvas interacts with light. Placed at the right relationship to the light, a canvas picture acquires a certain vibrancy and full-bodiedness. But when not directly under light - and especially at nighttime - canvas has a tendency to retreat from the room, leaving your pictures withering in the dark.

With metal prints, however, there are no such problems. For one, metal prints are extremely durable. They are long-lasting, and are well-suited for adverse climates, making them an ideal way to display pictures outdoors. In the case of an aluminum print, the accretion of dust is no object: simply brush it away with a microfibre towel or a shammy, and it's as good as new. And when it comes to lighting, aluminum prints are more adaptable than canvas. These prints aren't dependent upon lighting to look their best, but instead play off of the lighting conditions at a given place or time, always presenting a play of contrast, reflection, and shadow, in sync with the lighting.

Metal Prints vs. Acrylic?

Acrylic prints are another stunning option, and like canvas, one of Whitewall's specialities. Acrylic and metal share many qualities, including their resilience to dust and dirt, their durability and long-lastingness, and their ability to flourish under different lighting conditions.

However, while both acrylic and metal prints are very durably, metal is a cut above in this regard, standing up to steam, rain, or scratches better than acrylic. And, unlike acrylic, which captures light under glass, and gives the photo a "glowing" effect, aluminum prints are more two-dimensional, and reflect rather than embodying light.

metal prints vs. acrylic
Direct photo print on Aluminum Dibond

What is Aluminum Dibond?

Aluminum Dibond is the particular metal we use for our metal prints. Aluminum Dibond is a composite material: the core is made up of a 1/8”-thick polyethylene panel, and it is enclosed between two thin sheets of aluminum. This combination is light and versatile, but also exceptionally sturdy. Its black edges are a distinct and modern feature, ideal for a frameless gallery display.

printing photographs on metal: Aluminum Dibond
Original photo print on Aluminum Dibond

What is the difference between the direct and photo print on Dibond?

WhiteWall offers two methods for printing an image on Aluminum Dibond: a print direct on Dibond and the photo print on aluminum backing. As the name implies, with the direct print process the image is printed straight on the aluminum surface with UV Fine Art inks. This option creates a refined matte surface and gives the brighter portions of the picture a light sheen. The six-color printing technique produces vivid colors and sharp details, while the choice of the surface gives the print a unique finish.

The photo print on Aluminum Dibond is a traditional (matte or glossy) photo print, which is mounted on the aluminum-backing panel. An assortment of professional photo papers ensures premium image quality, while the razor-thin UV-protective laminate shields the photo print from outside influences. The final prints come with a 75-year color-brilliance guarantee.

What is an Aluminum Print? Whitewall Brushed and Direct Prints
The brushed aluminum surface is visible in the white and brighter areas of the image

Classic vs. Brushed Aluminum

The direct print is available on both classic and brushed Aluminum backings. The classic version offers a white foundation for a reproduction which is true to classical photo printing techniques, while the brushed aluminum priunts feature a silver metallic surface. With direct print on brushed aluminum, the white and bright areas are not printed at all, so the aluminum surface becomes visible in the picture, giving it a metallic look.

HD Metal Print

The HD Metal Print from WhiteWall combines glossy surface with impressive, brilliant color and resistance against external influences. In a thermal sublimation printing process involving heat and high-pressure, the image is placed into coated, 1mm-thick aluminum and embedded into the coating. Consequently, the image is not on but rather in the aluminum. Extremely resistant, HD Metal prints are ideal for sheltered outdoor areas or more humid rooms. Due to the thin material, they are incredibly light, even in larger sizes. The HD Metal Print is available in three different surfaces: glossy, brushed or smooth.

Printing On Metal: HD Metal Print
Architecture and cityscapes images stand out with the metallic elegance of the print

What images look the best on aluminum and metal?

In general, metal prints are a fantastic choice for almost any kind of picture. However, when selecting your image for a print on aluminum, you should take the sleek and modern look of going frameless into account. WhiteWall prints arrive ready-to-hang and the hanging system, already included in the price, meets the standards of countless galleries across the globe. The modern and pure look of the Aluminum Dibond[remove link] backing is particularly suited to architecture and cityscapes. Brushed aluminum is an excellent way to bring out the metallic surfaces featured in your images. The unique combination of textures makes this backing a great choice for industrial themes, nature photos, and landscapes with lots of white space.