How to Create Metal Photo Prints

Metal photo prints are the finished product of an image transferred onto a metal substrate by way of a dye sublimation or inkjet printing process. The metal that is most commonly used is aluminum, although other metals can be used as well. 

The book’s finish can be either glossy or matte, too. There are many advantages to printing on metal, but there are also a handful of disadvantages. Keep reading as we discuss these topics and more regarding metal photo prints. 

How Are Images Transferred Onto Metal?

Artwork and photographic images are transferred onto metal using a process called dye sublimation which uses heat to infuse the image’s ink onto the metal surface. The other process is using an inkjet printer which can print onto metal substrates. 

At Print Bind Ship, we use our HP R2000 right in house to complete large or small projects.

How Long Do Metal Prints Last?

Scientific tests have proven that metal photo prints can last two to four times as long as standard photographs, which translates into 100 years, if kept out of direct sunlight and extreme conditions. Simply put, your metal photo prints are so durable, they will outlive you.

What Is the Difference Between Acrylic and Metal Prints?

Acrylic photo prints are made by printing the image onto photo paper and the print is then mounted to the acrylic. Metal photo prints are made by applying inks directly to the metal or using a heat transfer process to infuse the ink into the metal surface. 

Acrylic prints can achieve higher vibrancy and color permeance but metal prints have more durability. Metal photo prints are more scratch resistant and are also less expensive than acrylic photo prints.

What’s Better: Glass or Metal Prints?

Glass photo prints are easy to clean and maintain and do not fade like canvas, but can lack definition and can be scratched. Metal photo prints are known for high quality definition and can be finished in a number of ways, from glossy to metallic. 

Metal photo prints are scratch resistant and waterproof making them extremely durable. In addition, metal photo prints are more cost effective, making them an overall better choice over glass photo prints. 

Types of Metal Prints

Metal photo prints can be created and finished in several ways. Below, we will discuss each of these available options. 

Glossy Finish

A metal photo print with a glossy finish is the most popular because it creates accurate color, vivid detail, and depth. This finish makes color tones pop and should be displayed in a properly lit environment due to its highly reflective qualities. 

Brushed Aluminum Prints

A metal photo print where the image is printed onto a brushed aluminum surface. Tone depth and contrast are increased when the texture of the aluminum absorbs the light, as opposed to reflecting light with photographic paper. 

HD Prints

High definition prints use ChromaLuxe and a dye-sublimation process which is the industry standard. This process produces vivid images that can last for years. 

Epoxy Prints

Epoxy prints use a brushed aluminum surface and apply a layer of high gloss epoxy to create a sheen that is less expensive than HD prints, but slightly less quality. 

Matte Finish

Metal photo prints with a matte finish are just slightly muted than a gloss finish to take some of the sheen out of the photo

Advantages of Metal Photo Prints

Metal photo prints offer many advantages over traditional photo prints. 


Metal photo prints are extremely durable and can last for decades if they are cared for properly and kept out of direct sunlight. 

Frameless Design

The frameless design of the metal photo print gives a clean modern look and reduces the need to worry about framing like traditional photos. 

No Light Reflection

Because there is no glass covering the artwork of a metal photo print, you won’t have to worry about light reflection or glare. 


Metal photo prints are safe from the elements of moisture, so they can be hung in a bathroom with no problems. 

Mounting Options 

Metal photo prints come with various mounting options giving them a seamless appearance. 

Disadvantages of Metal Photo Prints

Although metal photo prints have some advantages, they also come with a few disadvantages. 


Metal photo prints are a great value for their money but it also means they come at a much higher cost due to their high quality and longevity. 

Direct Light

Some metal photo print finishes may be affected by direct light so you may not be able to hang them in direct sunlight.

Image Resolution

Not all images work on metal photo prints, you will need to use high-resolution photos for the image quality to transfer. 

Lack of Options

Because you can’t swap out pictures on metal photo prints like traditional frames, you are limited with your options once you choose a finish and mounting. 

Not a DIY Project

If you aren’t experienced with metal photo prints it’s not advisable to do it yourself as you could be left with sharp dangerous edges if not trimmed correctly. It is best to let a professional use machinery to properly trim your edges. 

The Gold Medal in Photo Prints 

You now have a solid understanding of what metal photo prints are, how they are made, what types of finishes are available, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of metal photo prints. The quality images can last a lifetime, which is a tremendous value. Contact the professionals at Print Bind Ship to get started on your metal photo prints today!

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