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Dazzle Customers with Sublimation on Metal

Posted: 4/19/2016

When it comes to making money with sublimation, a key factor is perceived value on the part of the customer. The more they think a product is worth, the more willing they are to pay a higher price for it - provided the item is appealing to them.  

Coated metal fits this scenario quite well, as its durable, has fantastic imaging qualities and comes in many forms - from sheet stock to pre-manufactured products, such as bag tags, name badges, license plates, cell phone covers, jewelry and, of course, photo panels.

Like most substrates, metal products typically come with a white surface that is ideal for reproducing vivid images without worry of background color influencing image color.  However, some metal products are available with clear coating that allows the color of the metal to come through the image.

These produce a unique effect of adding luster and illumination to the image, and are extremely eye-catching. For example, a black and white photograph on silver metal produces a very interesting look, as all the white areas of the picture are now silver.

With the right ink, sublimation is an HD printing solution, but it also takes the right substrate to truly achieve the highest level of photo quality. High-quality metals, especially those such as Chromaluxe, which are made specifically for high-definition photography reproduction, can deliver stunning results.

Though many sublimators are used to the standard four-color CMYK ink configuration, there are other ink sets that can take the color and quality of your prints to an even higher level of quality. Four-color systems are great for sublimating consumer-facing products on metal, such as customized gifts, promotional products, awards and the like. However, eight-color systems, such as the Virtuoso 25” 8-Color HD Product Decorating System featuring the Sawgrass VJ 628 printer, offer a wider range of color options, gradation and detail for higher quality prints.

For professional photo, fine art, interiors signage and other applications on metal, where enhanced skin tones, neutral blacks, smoother gradients and deeper, richer colors are vital, SubliJet-HD Pro Photo XF inks offer the perfect solution. This combination of printer and ink delivers over 650,000 colors at up to 1440 x 1440 dpi (the highest resolution possible with current technology), and prints that last three times longer than archival photo paper when used with ChromaLuxe 2016 high-definition photo panels.

When sublimating metal, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Traditionally, metal has been produced with the same heat press settings as virtually all other substrates.  However, because of its unique ability to rapidly transfer heat, metals were typically placed on top of the transfer paper instead of underneath. This, of course, makes it much easier to line up the substrate with the image and, in many, cases negates the need to use heat tape.

However, with some of the higher-quality metal products, manufacturers recommend the substrate with the side you’re imprinting face up with the transfer paper on it face down. The heated platen should come in direct contact with both the transfer and the substrate, and that means using heat tape or adhesive spray to keep everything secure.

Overall, sublimated metal is quite simple to produce and will deliver stunning images that can generate higher prices and higher margins for you as the sublimator. A key factor to remember is that the image is what usually determines the value of the product, so focus on creative graphics, vivid colors and unique layouts when using metal. Creativity costs very little, but the end result can pay off big.

Speaking of creativity, be sure to join us on April 27 for our newest BusinessBuilder webinar:

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Check Out The Durability of ChromaLuxe Metal Prints