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Author Topic: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic  (Read 510 times)

jim t

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dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« on: February 08, 2019, 12:23:02 pm »

Curious to the thoughts of others between sublimation to aluminum compared to facemounted acrylic prints. Which do you prefer, what has better quality and longevity.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2019, 12:29:40 pm »

My preference is based on one simple fact: aluminum is so much lighter than acrylic. I hang 30" prints with a simple, tiny nail onto a drywall. Acrylic is also susceptible to scratching.

mearussi

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2019, 01:21:01 pm »

Curious to the thoughts of others between sublimation to aluminum compared to facemounted acrylic prints. Which do you prefer, what has better quality and longevity.
There are tradeoffs to each. The acrylic, as has been pointed out, is both heavy and easily scratched, but especially if made with a 1/4" thick acrylic (as opposed to the standard 1/8") has a excellent 3D depth that can't easily be duplicated by any other process. Also since it uses actual inkjet paper, as opposed to the dye sub used on the metal panels, it will have much better DR, sharpness and gamut as well as much better display life (60 years vs 200 years for the best inkjet ink).

Here are several YouTube videos comparing the two: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=metal+prints+vs+acrylic
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Wayne Fox

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2019, 04:18:51 pm »

Both are very viable options and deliver a similar look.  Dye Subís popularity has exploded because it offers that look at a more affordable price and as mentioned is light and physically quite durable and can be displayed without a frame.   While I still prefer conventionally well framed work (I believe a frame isolates the composition from the room and helps the art), framing is expensive so anything that offers a frameless choice is popular.

As mentioned face mounted inkjet offers several advantages, many times not an issue but in some cases a definite problem.   Inkjet prints can use a denser dither (2880x1440 for Epson printers, 2400x1200 for Canon and HP) vs 720x720 or at best 1440x720 for dye sub metal. Iíve printed a few metals that just canít hold the delicate colors in some soft gentle tones. To me facemounted acrylic has more depth, especially if an anti reflection acrylic is used such as TruVueís TruLife (which also has a scratch resistant coating so it can be cleaned like glass).   You canít do anything about the reflections on metal prints. Of course this drives the cost up quite a bit. We have recently started offering face mount on 1/16fth acrylic backed by thin black sintra at the same price as dye sub aluminum, and quite a few prefer the acrylic.

As far as longevity, there are two factors. First is good acrylic such as truLife has UV protection in it, and some of the better adhesiveís also have UV protection.  You can get chromaluxe EXT with some UV protection but the results seem to indicate it helps but isnít as good.  As far as the inks themselves, dye sub is a dye ink, not a pigment, and while itís sort of encapsulated in the coating on the aluminum print, itís not as encapsulated as in pigment inks. Iíve heard Wilhelm is testing chromaluxe but havenít ever seen any results, but Bay Photo shows results of an extensive test which is on their site, and while they make it look good, the test only compared metal to chemical photo papers which we all know has pretty poor longevity.  Added to that if you look at the fade charts closely the magenta layer fades at a much faster rate than the cyan or yellow layers, unlike the photo papers or inkjet where the colors seem fade more or less at the same rate.  What does that mean?  well, that was a problem for photo paper made back in the 60ís through the 80ís and itís pretty common to find old color photographs from that era that are quite green.

Of course it depends on the purpose of the image, itís not like the longevity is terrible, itís actually quite good, and a lot of pieces arenít intended as collectible art and getting a decade or two of use is great. Even up close the aluminum holds together enough for many. 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 04:31:13 pm by Wayne Fox »
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mearussi

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 08:55:05 pm »

Both are very viable options and deliver a similar look.  Dye Subís popularity has exploded because it offers that look at a more affordable price and as mentioned is light and physically quite durable and can be displayed without a frame.   While I still prefer conventionally well framed work (I believe a frame isolates the composition from the room and helps the art), framing is expensive so anything that offers a frameless choice is popular.

As mentioned face mounted inkjet offers several advantages, many times not an issue but in some cases a definite problem.   Inkjet prints can use a denser dither (2880x1440 for Epson printers, 2400x1200 for Canon and HP) vs 720x720 or at best 1440x720 for dye sub metal. Iíve printed a few metals that just canít hold the delicate colors in some soft gentle tones. To me facemounted acrylic has more depth, especially if an anti reflection acrylic is used such as TruVueís TruLife (which also has a scratch resistant coating so it can be cleaned like glass).   You canít do anything about the reflections on metal prints. Of course this drives the cost up quite a bit. We have recently started offering face mount on 1/16fth acrylic backed by thin black sintra at the same price as dye sub aluminum, and quite a few prefer the acrylic.

As far as longevity, there are two factors. First is good acrylic such as truLife has UV protection in it, and some of the better adhesiveís also have UV protection.  You can get chromaluxe EXT with some UV protection but the results seem to indicate it helps but isnít as good.  As far as the inks themselves, dye sub is a dye ink, not a pigment, and while itís sort of encapsulated in the coating on the aluminum print, itís not as encapsulated as in pigment inks. Iíve heard Wilhelm is testing chromaluxe but havenít ever seen any results, but Bay Photo shows results of an extensive test which is on their site, and while they make it look good, the test only compared metal to chemical photo papers which we all know has pretty poor longevity.  Added to that if you look at the fade charts closely the magenta layer fades at a much faster rate than the cyan or yellow layers, unlike the photo papers or inkjet where the colors seem fade more or less at the same rate.  What does that mean?  well, that was a problem for photo paper made back in the 60ís through the 80ís and itís pretty common to find old color photographs from that era that are quite green.

Of course it depends on the purpose of the image, itís not like the longevity is terrible, itís actually quite good, and a lot of pieces arenít intended as collectible art and getting a decade or two of use is great. Even up close the aluminum holds together enough for many.
Wilhelm finished the test almost two years ago and was where I got the 60 year display life from.

https://files8.webydo.com/92/9255329/UploadedFiles/FE072ABF-34FE-7382-F9A1-8F68CB199129.pdf

https://www.chromaluxe.com/wp-content/uploads/FadeReportEpson.pdf

https://allaboutimages.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/fine-art-printer_wilhelm-research_201701.pdf

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sbay

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 11:21:02 am »

Personally, I prefer acrylic as it's sharper and better color fidelity. I have had some problems with colors not being exactly right on the metal prints. I definitely notice this and it's always in the back of my mind. However, I think a more important question is whether anybody other than a photographer who puts their nose on the print would notice the difference or even care.

Wayne Fox

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 07:18:09 pm »

Wilhelm finished the test almost two years ago and was where I got the 60 year display life from.

https://files8.webydo.com/92/9255329/UploadedFiles/FE072ABF-34FE-7382-F9A1-8F68CB199129.pdf

https://www.chromaluxe.com/wp-content/uploads/FadeReportEpson.pdf

https://allaboutimages.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/fine-art-printer_wilhelm-research_201701.pdf
Thanks for the links.  Iíve checked a few times on Wilhelmís site, but it remains a total mess and I usually bail out before I find anything.

I find it odd that adding UV protection reduces longevity. I canít think of any logical reason it would have a negative effect. Might be the only human made dyes on the planet that are affected negatively by filtering out UV light.

And of course the PR piece is deceiving, as chromaluxe continues to imply better fade performance to acrylic without acknowledging that acrylic inkjet prints will perform differently (and far better) than chroma luxe panels.
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Wayne Fox

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2019, 04:05:00 pm »

I also found this statement strange:

*Because of the unique reflective properties of the finely brushed aluminum substrate of ChromaLuxe Clear Photo Panels, it is not possible to measure dye fading and/or staining that might occur with a spectrophotometer. However, careful visual examination of both the White and Clear Gloss versions of the product has led WIR to conclude that the permanence properties are essentially identical.

So basically they are determining this by ďvisualĒ examination?  Not sure how accurate that can be.
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jim t

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Re: dye sublimation aluminum vs inkjet facemount acrylic
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2019, 06:19:32 pm »

From the ambiguous longevity stats (of sublimation), I don't think I would feel comfortable selling any large fine art pieces. Though Jay Maisel had an exhibition in 2017 done with Chromaluxe.

Another deterrent would be the cost associated in setting up your own endeavor to produce anything larger than 20" wide. Roughly $8,000 for a heat press and a few thousand for the large format sublimation printer.

I suppose it would pay for itself if you had a business producing temporary signage and such, but not for most photographers selling their work.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 06:22:48 pm by jim t »
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