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Author Topic: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?  (Read 2183 times)

bill t.

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Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« on: August 31, 2017, 03:14:17 PM »

Anybody have input on alternatives to Gatorfoam?  I know Encore has something, but it has been years since I used any.

Gator has been sliding downhill.  I buy a 15 sheet carton of black Gator every 3 or 4 weeks.  The usable yield for each box has been declining.  The last batch was a rippling, dented, sea-surface nightmare that prevents it being used with anything as reflective as a silk surface, just forget about luster or glossy.  Only thick matte canvas might be barely OK on a few of those sheets.  That's not a freak occurrence, but definitely a trend I have seen for myself.  I have been spending more than an hour per carton grazing a flashlight beam across the surfaces to pick out the rejects, and even with that I still get an occasional $200+, 4x8 foot sheet of unusable mounted media.  I have utility sheets and trims from 3+ years ago that are pristine by comparison.

On a related subject, I think white Gator is better in regards to surface smoothness, but I wonder about the so-called "printable" surface being suitable for adhesive mounting and dry mounting.  Anybody have long term experience with prints mounted on white Gator?
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Zachary Goulko

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 08:55:55 AM »

How about dibond? There are many manufacturers that make aluminum composite panels. They come in different thicknesses and colors.
I have these cut to size locally at a large plastics supplier. You can also cut them yourself with a good saw (I use a Festool with a special blade), but for me it's easier to transport smaller size pieces.
It is smooth, flat as glass, very stable, weatherproof, light weight, and costs a fraction of what gator board does.
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Dan Berg

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 11:09:13 AM »

Different story on pricing here in Pa.
From Harbor sales.
3mm Dibond black/white 4x8 sheet $123.50
Alumet Premium 4x8 sheet $$51.84
Gatorboard 3/16" 4x8 sheet $53.08
Gatorboard 3/8" 4x8 sheet $73.52
Gatorboard 1/2" 4x8 sheet $80.96

All are delivered prices.
Dibond is 2 1/2 times more expensive when comparing 3mm Dibond to 3/16" Gatorboard.
Are you actually comparing true Dibond or one of the Alumet products?

Zachary Goulko

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 11:28:56 AM »

Different story on pricing here in Pa.
From Harbor sales.
3mm Dibond black/white 4x8 sheet $123.50
Alumet Premium 4x8 sheet $$51.84
Gatorboard 3/16" 4x8 sheet $53.08
Gatorboard 3/8" 4x8 sheet $73.52
Gatorboard 1/2" 4x8 sheet $80.96

All are delivered prices.
Dibond is 2 1/2 times more expensive when comparing 3mm Dibond to 3/16" Gatorboard.
Are you actually comparing true Dibond or one of the Alumet products?

Dan,
The sheets I get are called AluPanel Lite (white gloss one one side and matte on the other), and the 3mm 4x8 sheet costs $74. They aren't the branded Dibond sheets but I see no difference in terms of quality.
This price also includes the cutting, and I usually have it cut into 12 16x24 pieces, or larger, depending on my needs.
It's been a while since I checked pricing on the gator board but I remember it being more expensive.
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mearussi

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2017, 08:40:14 AM »

I use clear acrylic because I like to mount and hang without a frame and the edges are almost invisible, whereas Gatorboard has an ugly foam edge, but acrylic is much heavier.
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Dan Berg

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2017, 09:27:02 AM »

What are you using as hangers on the acrylic when the sizes get bigger?

Paul Roark

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2017, 10:55:43 AM »

Is there any lightweight backing that will hold a 30 by 60 inch canvas that is bonded to it flat?

Paul
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Dan Berg

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2017, 11:48:27 AM »

Just did a 40x60" canvas on 1/2" Gator and once the Miracle Muck dried it was perfectly flat.

mearussi

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2017, 08:33:39 PM »

What are you using as hangers on the acrylic when the sizes get bigger?

I get my acrylic from Tap Plastics which has a decent presence on the West Coast:
https://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/cut_to_size_plastic?gclid=Cj0KEQjwranNBRDh3uGN5ojp9o8BEiQASu908B7t61298012zfF3js-sYiWp0X6_7BRd9IPzdaamjmUaAsn98P8HAQ

I use three of their 1" acrylic blocks,

https://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/plastic_rods_tubes_shapes/cast_acrylic_cubes/136

glue two to the top and one on the bottom, drill screw holes in the sides of the top two (before I glue them on, of course) for eyehooks and string coated picture framing wire in the eyehooks. This works very well and can withstand a LOT of weight because of how well the acrylic glue holds. It also looks very professional and as the blocks come in various sizes you can choose a larger size if needed.

If you do try this make sure you drill the eyehook hole to almost the same size as the screw threads or you take the risk of actually breaking the thread part off when you tighten it in place ( I lost a few blocks before I figured that out).
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 08:39:11 PM by mearussi »
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mearussi

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2017, 08:45:39 PM »

Is there any lightweight backing that will hold a 30 by 60 inch canvas that is bonded to it flat?

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
I've actually switched from paper to canvas mounted acrylic as I like the slightly textured look better (oversprayed with Premier Art Print Shield lacquer varnish because it looks better than Moab or Hahnemuhle).

I use this to mount the canvas to the acrylic backing: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/46514-REG/Scotch_56816_Mounting_Adhesive_Roll.html

It's repositionable (to a point as long as you've only lightly laid the canvas or paper print down). Once positioned correctly, I lay paper on top of it and use the provided hard plastic squeegee to seal the print  to the acrylic as much as possible, then I finish by it by running it through a roller press several times. So far so good, but I've only been using this glue sheet for a few months now so can't guarantee long term adhesion. 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 08:51:55 PM by mearussi »
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stockjock

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2017, 02:48:45 PM »

I get my acrylic from Tap Plastics which has a decent presence on the West Coast:
https://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/cut_to_size_plastic?gclid=Cj0KEQjwranNBRDh3uGN5ojp9o8BEiQASu908B7t61298012zfF3js-sYiWp0X6_7BRd9IPzdaamjmUaAsn98P8HAQ

I use three of their 1" acrylic blocks,

https://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/plastic_rods_tubes_shapes/cast_acrylic_cubes/136

glue two to the top and one on the bottom, drill screw holes in the sides of the top two (before I glue them on, of course) for eyehooks and string coated picture framing wire in the eyehooks. This works very well and can withstand a LOT of weight because of how well the acrylic glue holds. It also looks very professional and as the blocks come in various sizes you can choose a larger size if needed.

If you do try this make sure you drill the eyehook hole to almost the same size as the screw threads or you take the risk of actually breaking the thread part off when you tighten it in place ( I lost a few blocks before I figured that out).

I'm surprised you are using picture wire.  Drilling the holes and using eyehooks seems like a lot of work and the photo will still lean out from the wall.  Have you considered a simple cleat system?  Just cut a piece of acrylic at a 45 degree angle and glue one piece to the photo and screw the other to the wall.  And add the same size piece on the bottom as a spacer.  And I imagine wood would be even cheaper and easier assuming an epoxy or hot glue adheres to the acrylic.  That gives a perfectly flat presentation.
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mearussi

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2017, 04:07:00 PM »

I'm surprised you are using picture wire.  Drilling the holes and using eyehooks seems like a lot of work and the photo will still lean out from the wall.  Have you considered a simple cleat system?  Just cut a piece of acrylic at a 45 degree angle and glue one piece to the photo and screw the other to the wall.  And add the same size piece on the bottom as a spacer.  And I imagine wood would be even cheaper and easier assuming an epoxy or hot glue adheres to the acrylic.  That gives a perfectly flat presentation.
I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what you're talking about. I use the 1" blocks because I want the photo to float. Also I resale my photos so I won't be screwing anything into any wall.
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stockjock

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2017, 01:22:52 AM »

I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what you're talking about. I use the 1" blocks because I want the photo to float. Also I resale my photos so I won't be screwing anything into any wall.

I assume most of your buyers would rather have the piece be as parallel to the wall as possible.  A very easy way to do this is to glue a cleat onto the back of whatever the photo is mounted on.  To make cleats you just take a 2-3" strip of either wood or acrylic that is whatever thickness you desire.  I usually use a plank of 1x3" poplar that works out to be about 2.5" x .75" actual dimensions.  Then just run it through a circular saw with the blade set at a 30-45 degree angle to cut the strip into two approximately equal pieces.  Then cut that strip into whatever length you desire.  I typically use 8" long cleats but any length works.  It is best if you keep both halves together.  That way you can achieve consistent mounting from print to print.  Drill two holes in one of the pieces so that the cleat you mount on the wall forms a slot/notch and then glue the other piece onto the back of the photo so that it fits into the notch formed by the other cleat and the wall.  It is harder to describe than it is to do.  The attached photos show how it works. 

Using a cleat results in a very secure mount to the wall and since you can reposition the piece horizontally you only need to get the height accurate for display purposes.  And it causes the piece to be perfectly flat to the wall which is desirable.  If you don't want the piece to float so far out from the wall you can just use a thinner cleat although the large the piece and the wavier the wall the more problems that can cause.  I think most metal prints achieve a similar effect by having an inner frame that the print hangs from.





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John Caldwell

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2017, 01:42:25 PM »

Recently I received a gift of mounted prints the came from Sam's Club. The mounting material is about 3/4" thick, and instead of the melamine banding material I've been applying to 1/2" Gator for years, the Sam's edges were banded with an attractive plastic material that had a striated texture. The result looked and felt nice, and I was going to suggest the our local shop thatGator-mounts our prints look into the Sam's Club process.

Any idea what these Sam's prints are mounted to and banded with?

John Caldwell
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Robcat

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2017, 11:00:40 PM »

Dan,
The sheets I get are called AluPanel Lite (white gloss one one side and matte on the other), and the 3mm 4x8 sheet costs $74.
Where do you get those AluPanels? Sounds interesting
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Paul Roark

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2017, 10:32:49 AM »

The aluminum panels also appear to be the most interesting thing I've heard of for mounting large canvases.  There is a YouTube demo where a lady uses a knife to cut them.  That would help the DIY types like me hold down the capital costs.

I'm not convinced Miracle Muck or any similar PVA is a good adhesive, however, for artwork that is intended to have archival properties.  PVA, according to Wikipedia also has issues: ... "ts ester groups are sensitive to base hydrolysis and slowly convert PVAc into polyvinyl alcohol and acetic acid."

Additionally, "A number of microorganisms can degrade polyvinyl acetate. Most commonly, damage is caused by filamentous fungi—however algae, yeasts, lichens, and bacteria can also degrade polyvinyl acetate."  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_acetate )

Canvas shrinks when exposed to water.  The PVA is a water based suspension as far as I can tell.  This would seem to increase the internal stresses in the materials.

My latest efforts have been Scotch 77 spray on double thick acid free foam core.  So far, so good.  The single thickness 30 x 60 inch framed, un-glazed panoramas, however, while great indoors for months, warped when I transported them in 100 + degree weather.  Also, the high temperature appeared to cause one of the canvases to become un-attached from the backing in spots.  The 32 x 40 single sheets, adhered to a single thickness foam core with Scotch 77 and put in a frame under acrylic have done well.  I've used ample frame nails all the way to the extreme corners.

I've wondered whether a low viscosity, slow curing epoxy might be an interesting adhesive.  It might be too permanent for conservators, however.

I understand that for non-fine art purposes the Gator board and Miracle Muck may be great.  I'm just not sure it's the appropriate answer for those who want an archival medium.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com

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Zachary Goulko

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2017, 12:31:26 PM »

Where do you get those AluPanels? Sounds interesting

I get them from E&T Plastics. They have locations in NY & NJ, but I imagine many other suppliers carry similar panels.
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Ernst Dinkla

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2017, 08:09:00 AM »



The patent on Alucobond an Dibond that Alusuisse had is no longer valid after more than 20 years. Most of the less expensive alu -polyethylene composite material is now produced in China and sold under different names. Alusuisse became part of Alcoa and later Alcan or the other way around. The China plants even got some support on knowhow as I was told. Differences still exist, the alu surface plates can either be 0.2mm or 0.3mm. The aluminium itself can vary in hardness grades, the step from the 3mm or thicker Alucobond to the thinner but still rigid DiBond became possible when the harder (magnesium addition) aluminium was used, less stretch in the alu layers possible so more rigid. The white or colored surfaces are usually polyester based lacquers.

I use the China produced 2mm 0.2 or 0.3 variety with less hard alu as I can score one side with a heavy knife and break and swing the sheet to be used free from the large sheet. The sheet has to be clamped thoroughly over the full length near the cut to keep all parts flat. There is no warp then in either part. Sencys 25mm snap off blade cutter is excellent. After laminating the print I cut the edges on a board cutter, waste about 1/4 inch on each side. That way I do not loose much image either when the image runs up to the edges. Above say 50x70 cm I add a 10mm thick expanded PVC sheet at the back (kind of Forex, which was also an Alusuisse invention) with one component polyurethane glue, the hardening is done in a vacuum table on thick glass so flat. The PVC is 12 cm smaller in both dimensions so not visible when on the wall.

Smaller prints  up to 50x50 cm are more often laminated on 2mm polystyreen which gives white edges. Similar process. And then framed. I think that gluing a sheet like that on a smaller 8mm MDF board could deliver a good product too.

Zenith 2 sided laminating products are used. For the matte art papers with looser fibers the thicker glue quality. I mount the larger matte art paper prints first in the vacuum table and then pull them through the laminator with enough paper protection for an intenser bond. The gloss papers that keep their dimensions better go directly through the laminator, you can not pull air out anyway between an RC sheet and Dibond so that has to happen in the laminator in the marriage of the two.

Whether it is "archival" is another question. Conventional framing with acid free tape hinges, boards and matte is the most archival method and also reversible.  I tell my customers to check the framers that do that on the materials they use and it is quite often not done correctly. Lamination to foam core and then framed free floating for example. I do not trust foam core at all. I have no urge to go in the framing business though.

Paul, any liquid glue is a risk with canvas but you might check your transparent aliphatic polyurethane varnish or a glue version of it again. And a vacuum table for the curing period. Half an hour for the less sophisticated wood construction glue I use, bonds the composite and pvc (both slightly sanded) without problems. I have done a year long 3x weight/bond area outdoor test and it holds forever.
However any non reversible method should be a conservator's nightmare. Hypocrazy is prominent there though, art is bought on the name not on the media specifications, restorers need a future too and I make facsimile that replace the originals that never leave the archives anymore.


Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
March 2017 update, 750+ inkjet media white spectral plots





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Paul Roark

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2017, 11:12:13 AM »

Ernst wrote, in part:

>The patent on Alucobond an Dibond that Alusuisse had is no longer valid after more than 20 years.
>Most of the less expensive alu -polyethylene composite material is now produced in China and sold under different names. ...

> ... any non reversible [adhesive] method should be a conservator's nightmare. ...

One of our US relatively inexpensive mail order art supply outfits (Jerry's Artorama) has an aluminum composite panel that appears similar to Dibond, which I've found to not be easily available where I live. 

(For Jerry's version, see http://www.jerrysartarama.com/alumacomp-archival-aluminum-painting-and-mounting-panels?gclid=Cj0KCQjwi97NBRD1ARIsAPXVWWA04KTGuw2eeKRcmw1m7tdtmeAX6E_xHHFsOaIkz0udfVlFENgPCXwaAu7mEALw_wcB )

I will be trying the Jerry's version when it arrives.

Despite the conservator views, I'm going to epoxy the canvas to the panel (slow cure, low viscosity version).  My failure rate with the Scotch 77 spray has been too high.  The conservators like it when art can be removed from the backing, but I've found too many of my pieces removed themselves when exposed to heat or sunlight, and we have too much of that in Southern California. 

(One factor in whether the Scotch 77 bond will hold appears to be how long the art has been adhered to the panel.  There appears to be a long curing time.   From what I've seen, I would not let a piece be exposed to any sunlight for at least a few weeks.)

In retrospect, tape-hanging photo paper behind an over-mat and glazing is very much simpler than dealing with canvas.  Sales have been better than expected, but unless I find a more reliable workflow for mounting, I'm not sure the net and return per hour is very good.

Paul
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stockjock

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Re: Alternatives to Gatorfoam?
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2017, 01:35:42 PM »


One of our US relatively inexpensive mail order art supply outfits (Jerry's Artorama) has an aluminum composite panel that appears similar to Dibond, which I've found to not be easily available where I live. 

(For Jerry's version, see http://www.jerrysartarama.com/alumacomp-archival-aluminum-painting-and-mounting-panels?gclid=Cj0KCQjwi97NBRD1ARIsAPXVWWA04KTGuw2eeKRcmw1m7tdtmeAX6E_xHHFsOaIkz0udfVlFENgPCXwaAu7mEALw_wcB )

I will be trying the Jerry's version when it arrives.

Despite the conservator views, I'm going to epoxy the canvas to the panel (slow cure, low viscosity version).  My failure rate with the Scotch 77 spray has been too high.  The conservators like it when art can be removed from the backing, but I've found too many of my pieces removed themselves when exposed to heat or sunlight, and we have too much of that in Southern California. 

(One factor in whether the Scotch 77 bond will hold appears to be how long the art has been adhered to the panel.  There appears to be a long curing time.   From what I've seen, I would not let a piece be exposed to any sunlight for at least a few weeks.)


Those panels from Jerry's look like a very accessible and reasonably priced source of a Dibond like product.  Please post again once they come and you have had a chance to assess their quality.

I wonder if anybody would suggest a method of gluing photos printed on paper to aluminum that doesn't require a heated laminator or a vacuum table? 
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