4 Tips for Making Metal Prints

When turning your photos into metal prints, you want to make sure you get everything just right. This article explains how metal prints are made and how to prepare your photo.

By: Posted On: 5/16/2020

4 Tips for Making Metal Prints

If you follow popular photographers on social media, you have most likely started seeing metal prints show up everywhere.

They are getting very popular and metal is starting to rival canvas prints when it comes to professional photographers.

Whether you are a professional photographer or an amatuer looking to improve your space with a print, metal prints are a great choice.

This blog post will give you everything you need to know to get started turning your photos into metal prints.

Why are Metal Prints Popular?

1. Authenticity

Metal prints give your photographs a sleek, clean, and modern look. They also immediately add a semblance of credibility and importance.

If your making a display celebrating your greatest accomplishments (graduations, sports awards, new babies or pets, etc) or if you're looking to make a strong impression on anyone entering the room, metal is an excellent choice.

2. Durability

Another great advantage of metal printing is its longevity. Metal is more durable than other printing mediums.

Metal art prints also hold up well to the elements. Metal can handle sunlight, moisture, and bumps much more effectively than paper or canvas prints.

The physical toughness of the metal prints also makes it resistant to warping and bending.

3. Easy to clean

Maintaining a clean surface of your metal print isn't complicated. Most of the time, a little bit of water and a soft cloth is all you need to have your print looking as good as new!

How Metal Prints Are Made

It all starts with a thin, shiny plate of metal reffered to as flashing. The flashing is about 2mm thick and is almost ALWAYS made of aluminum due to its strength and minimal weight.

Before printing, the plate is painted with a smooth, base polymer coating. Basically, it looks like brushed aluminum on the sides and back, and a blank white canvas on the front.

Next, a mirrored copy of your image gets printed onto a sheet of dye sublimination transfer paper with specialized ink made specifically for the sublimination process.

Once you have the metal flashing and your dye sub print, the flashing is centered face down on the paper and secured in place with heat resistant tape.

Together they are placed in a heat press where the real magic happens.

The press is preheated to between 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit and clamped shut tight for 60-90 seconds. The heat and pressure transforms the sublimation ink on the paper into a gas that is then absorbed through the pores of the polymer coating on the metal.

As the metal cools, the pores close and the metal surface retains a crystal clear copy of your image on the surface.

Shadow Mount vs Easil

Now that you have your image ready and pressed onto metal, the next question is "what's the best option for display?"

One of the greatest strengths of metal prints is that they look amazing all on thier own. No frame is required.

Depending on the size, you may choose to attach an easel prop up your print. Perfect for displaying an image on any tabletop such your desk at work or dresser at home without the bulkyness of a frame. Easels are a sturdy, light weight option with stunning results.

Another option for display is the shadow mount.

Shadow mounts are "invisible" frames that come pre-applied to the back of your print and are ready for hanging. The mount is set 3 inches in from the border of your print and hang at a distance from the wall creating a floating effect.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Metal Print

1. Image size

The size of your image is the biggest factor in making sure your print comes out crisp and clear. The height and width of your image is measured in pixels and is the determining factor of how large you can make your print without a drastic loss of quality. The more pixels the better!

2. Resolution

Finding a balance of size and quality can be tricky. You are going to want a print at a size that matchesyour image. The resolution of an image is measured by Pixels Per Inch (PPI). An image that is 1000 pixels wide by 1000 pixels high will look sharper with a PPI of 300 than 72 PPI. More pixels per inch means a clearer image, but also a smaller image. This may be confusing at first, but we are here to help.

Some general guidelines: If your image is 2000 pixels or greater on each side, you should be able to enlarge that image up to 40 x 60 inches without losing quality.

At 1000 pixels or greater on each side, 24 x 36 inches is generally the upper limits of your printing range.

3. Aspect Ratio

Keep in mind your image size might have a different aspect ratio than the print size.

This just means your image (when blown up to size) might be slightly taller/shorter or wider/thinner than the size you want it printed.

If your image and print are similar but not exact matches, don't worry, you will have three options: you can crop your image, add black or white bars to the image, or change your print size.

Again, if any of this is confusing you, we are here to answer any questions you may have.

4. Display

The final product is final until its put on display. Often a print is ordered specifically to fill an empty space on a wall or tabletop. Be sure your print has the right kind of backing to be set up where you want it. Whether this is a shadow mount to hang on the wall, or an easil for tabletop display, make sure you select the display option that fits where you want to display the print.


Metal prints are a great way to make your graphics and images standout with a sleek, modern look.

They make a strong, lasting impression without the hassle (or expense!) of a tradional frame.

If you are looking for a lasting way to preserve your photos and memories, look no further than metal prints.

If you need help or have any questions about metal prints, contact us and we're glad to help.