1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. WELCOME Grumblers
    Backup is now done at 3PM EDT. You may find the server down for up to two minutes at that time.

Question Aluminium composite board

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by kuluchicken, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Hi guys

    A lot of reference has been made to an aluminium composite board.

    "Aluminium Composite Material has a Polyethylene core sandwiched between 2 thin aluminum panels. The result is a light weight sheet with excellent flatness and flexural stiffness, which is ideal for interior and exterior applications."

    Is that the board you guys use? I've found a local source.

    If so, can it be cut with a wall cutter (normal blade)?

    I presume the reason for using it would be where no warping and chemical stability is required? Any other reasons and applications for using this as opposed to coreflute.


    American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

    The American Picture Framing Academy Learn Picture Framing Now
  2. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    It needs to be cut with a saw or the Fletcher FSC has an ACM head that cuts it using carbide wheels front and back.
  3. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Your incredibly helpful, thanks Jeff.

    I've got a Keencut System 4000 wall cutter. It has a double cutting head which cuts masonite and similar boards. It sounds as if it may possibly cut this???

    Is it a nice light product to use? I'm presuming it can be used in conservation framing?
  4. preservator

    preservator SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    There are two types of composite boards: those with solid centers (Dibond and Alucobond, from Alusuisse, AG) and those with fluted cores (D-lite, Aluma-lite, and Pro-lite, made in the US). All of these boards are chemically stable and they show great promise in preservation framing, as components in spacers, frame deepening, and backing and support boards.

    FramerInTraining likes this.
  5. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Thanks for the info Hugh. I'm looking forward to experimenting with it. I'm not sure which one my supplier has.


  6. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    Hi Michele, you will find several suppliers in the signage industry up there, di-bond & alucobond are both quite commonly available as brands but there are many others too. Ideally you need a saw but (watch everyone winch) you can cut it with a stanley/craft knife, it's easier than you think.
  7. 5th corner

    5th corner CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    The head to cut metal composit is different to the one that cuts board. Wheels are differnent size and composed of different material.
  8. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    As Hugh said it is a great conservation substrate and sign suppliers are the place to find all of the varieties. Very light as a 4'x8' sheet is handled easily by one person as it is similar in weight to gator board. Buying the additional cutting head will be inexpensive and won't take up any new space.
  9. 5th corner

    5th corner CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    It doesn't fit older machines.
  10. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Bummer. A circular saw with the proper blade will easily cut clean pieces.
  11. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have a Fletcher 3100 that has the cutter head with the 2 wheels for cutting thicker stuff and it cuts the dibond very nicely.... a good clean cut and no burr as the wheels very slightly push the edge inward.
  12. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    For framers who need a piece of ACM only on occasion, some suppliers will cut it free or for a small fee. Also, Kool Tack distributors can provide their Competition Plate ACM with pre-applied dry mounting adhesive cut to size. Local framers who have the proper equipment can do it, too. Using my Fletcher-Terry FSC, I occasionally cut ACM for others as a favor.

    Cutting ACM with a saw requires finishing of the rough, sharp edges, but using a disc-type cutter makes neatly rounded edges with no further finishing required. On a vertical wall-mounted or free-standing machine, that is a more demanding task than cutting hardboard or sheet aluminum. Especially, cutting 4 mm ACM requires considerable force.

    Yes, the hardboard cutter for the 3100 will cut ACM, but doing it often would cause undue wear of the cutting tool and the machine's structure. The Fletcher FSC machine is made for such tasks; more sturdy and better able to withstand the forces. The heavy-duty Keen machine would be up to the task, as well.

    Whether a framer ought to invest in a heavy-duty cutting machine might depend on how often he needs to cut ACM.
  13. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    if your mounting right to the edge on composite panels like diabond, actually the fsc doesnt do the best job

    it rounds over the edges and what you really want is a very good square edge

    the other thing to be aware of is there are lots of grades of acm panels, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, these are the thickness of the actual aluminium parts, the overall thickness for these 3 are still the same thickness
  14. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Wow, thanks for all the info everyone, much appreciated.


  15. Miranda Smith

    Miranda Smith CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Yes you can cut it with a stanley knife, but it is painful and hard to get a clean cut (and you use lots of blades).
    I love ACM. Use it every day for lots of things. Recently drymounted a large 2 metre x 1.54 metre photo on cotton rag, to it in a frame.

    Not all ACM's are of similar quality. We work with lots of firms in the printing and signage industries and hear feedback.
    If you stay with a recongnised brand you will be ok.

    If you are dry mounting onto it, watch for those tiny bumps (specks) and sand them off. Lots of uses.
    We use off cuts as spacers in frames.
  16. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Which one would you suggest for framing? I've never used it before and intend buying some soon. I normally buy in bulk when I do, so would like to make sure I buy the 'good stuff' :)
  17. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    i normally buy the 0.3 stuff

    there are lots of grades from diff suppliers too, so have a look around for very smooth

    thing i like about using the 0.3 stuff is its way stiffer on larger pieces
  18. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Thanks for all the info. I look forward to playing around with ACM soon.
  19. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Note that .3 refers to the thickness of the aluminum on both sides of the sheet. You also need to specify the thickness of the whole sheet. Generally, 2 mm is adequate for framing purposes, but ACM is available up to 4 mm in several colors from many suppliers.
  20. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    sorry yes i wasnt very clear

    the skins can be 0.1, 0.2, 0.3

    thickness can vary, i tend to use o.3 and 3mm, but generally there not going in frames but surfacemounted prints with split battens on the back

    i hvae seen 6mm panels too, which get a bit silly really
  21. David Hewitt

    David Hewitt CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    What about the surface options offered with aluminum composite boards such as paints, plain, whatever. Any concerns?

    What adhesives work best with the surfaces? wet, dry-heat, hinge applications?

    Any issues with its inner substrate & adhesive? ( using as a float backing on a textile )

    Thank You
  22. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    most of the time i am mounting digital prints i have made for the client

    so i use drytac hotpress self wound mount film, in coldpress rollers

    i tend to get the matt white finished version of acm from my supplier most of the time

    although have used the brushed aluminium quite a bit with image in the centre
  23. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If you mean concerns about reactive chemistry or preservation, then no. ACM sheets are suitable for all levels of preservation framing. The surfaces are smoother and harder than surfaces on most other framing substrates.

    Kool Tack Competition Plate is ACM with their low-temperature dry mounting adhesive preapplied, which makes an excellent mounting board for photographs and other artworks. Film-type dry mounting adhesives, such as Fusion 4000, work well. Water-based adhesives may not bond the the non-porous aluminum surfaces, but most water-borne fabric adhesives (such as Mighty Muck, et al) and contact cements (such as Lascaux 360) would bond to ACM.

    The only concern I can think of might be offgassing of the plastic core material in the event of extremely high temperature in the frame, but that could cause problems in any frame assembly.
  24. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    I'm not very familiar with heat press mounting, but have seen ACM delaminating after this had been done. We use Gudy adhesive through a cold roller press for most tasks. If need be we will mount rag to the surface with starch (which can be removed easily as the paste does not penetrate the ACM as Jim notes) which can have thinner papers mounted to the rag more easily with the same starch mix. Our biggest restriction is our largest vacuum press is only 8'x4', but our cold rollers are a bit over 5' wide.

    If you need help sourcing anything Michele feel free to send me an email or PM - we also have offcuts of ACM if you're just wanting to play about with it.
  25. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The delamination issue depends on the heat and dwell time. Old-technology dry mount adhesives that require temperatures of 175 degrees F or higher, and dwell times of several minutes, could cause problems.

    Newer dry mounting adhesives that activate at low temperature and short dwell time seem to cause no problems. For example, Kool Tack Competition Plate operates at 160 degrees F in about 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the thickness of material and release board/sheet.
  26. 05

    05 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    BEVA film adheres to aluminum very well.

    We often mount large photographs to aluminum honeycomb panels using continuous hinges of washi adhered to the back of the photo and stretched to the back of the panel using BEVA film; the BEVA can be re-heated and re-stretched if needed.
  27. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    I can not imagine that being an issue as I'm sure the ACM that sits out in direct sun would get near that temperature.
  28. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Well it's not, but higher temperatures can cause softening and deformation of the plastic core. I proved it in my dry mount press by glazing a print with laminating film at 180 degrees F for about ten minutes. I cooled it under weight and it turned out OK, because the aluminum skins held up OK, but the plastic core was soft, like clay.

    ACM in the sun would get warm from the radiation, but since the aluminum skin would reflect some light/heat, and since it would be surrounded by free air, the heat buildup in the core plastic might not be much of an issue. If the surface got to 160 degrees F, that would be really hot to the touch, but OK for the board.
  29. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Need advice about aluminum or dibond

    I have been asked to give a quote on 35 pieces of art that we would print on our Epson printer and then float on aluminum or dibond. The mounted piece would then have to be raised so it is not flat against the wall.
    The size is 24x24 and the art has to cover the entire surface of the metal. I think I can drill holes on the corners and use standoff hardware to attach to the wall. The client is also asking about a piece of wood under the metal to raise it.

    I have done a lot of mounting on thick plexi where the art doesn't go all the way to the edges and there is a 2" clear area around the art.
    I have never bought dibond or other similar substrates to mount on. I read all the responses to this thread and learned a lot. We have 2 old Fletcher wall cutters.

    Does anyone know a source for buying this material in the Philadelphia/NJ area?
    Can we use our Seal dry-mounting press to mount on dibond? We do have a Bienfang 44" roller press.
    Bruce Hazany
    Vision Graphics
  30. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yes, you can dry mount to ACM using your mechanical or heated vacuum press (the Seal brand includes both types).

    I suggest you call Len Lastuck at Kool Tack/ Tack1 Technologies/Frame Specialties in Elkhart, Indiana; phone 800-777-3165 or 574-522-6605 about Kool Tack Competition Plate. Kool Tack can provide any of their three dry mount adhesives pre-applied to any full-size ACM sheets care to you specify. They can also cut the sheets to your specified size for you.

    If you do this kind of work routinely, or if you think this new job could be a harbinger of future orders, perhaps you should consider buying a machine that would enable you to cut the material yourself. I recommend the Fletcher-Terry Model FSC, which is somewhat similar to their 3000 and 3100 cutting machines, but it is a newer design and heavier duty. An ACM cutter is among the FSC's optional accessories, but it also does a fine job with glass, acrylic, and Sintra (PVC sheet), as well as foam boards, GatorFoam, MightyCore, and paper boards up to 1/2" thick. Then you could stock full sheets of ACM with Kool Tack adhesive pre-applied, and cut whatever you need.

    I am a small-shop framer, a satisfied user of Fletcher-Terry machines and Kool Tack products, and a consultant to both companies.
  31. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    We raise the mounted pieces with frames that are a few inches smaller glued to the back, these then have the Hangman Canvas hangers applied so as to keep everything flat on the wall.
  32. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Thanks Jim. I called and got prices for Competition Plate. After mounting onto this, can I also laminate - same as we do with foam core?
    Our supplier here says they only sell 4'8' sheets and not cut to size. If I have the right equipment, can I mount, laminate, and then trim the extra off? It has to come out very smooth around the edges.
  33. Bandsaw

    Bandsaw MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    No mounting required. My printer, using a flat bed printer, prints my photos directly on the aluminium sheets. High gloss, super prints and better than face mounts on plexi in my opinion.

    We make a wood frame from 1" x 1" stock about 4 inches smaller than the piece so it floats off the wall and the frame doesn't show. The aluminium sheet is attached to the wood frame with adhesive velcro. Hangers on the wood frame.

    Simple, and highly effective.
  34. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I disagree jim with this, the FSC rolls the edge of the acm panel when cutting. If your mounting righ to the edge with nothing to hide the edge the roll is obvious. if your cold laminating to it the rolled edge can cause adhesion issues too

    I have my panels cut to size on a saw as you get a flat edge
  35. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    FramerInTraining likes this.
  36. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You have mentioned this before, but I prefer the rolled edges. I have not had any difficulty trimming the images neatly after mounting, the rolled edges require no further finishing, and my customers like the appearance. To each his own.
  37. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I suggest getting a couple of smaller samples to try before making the commitment. Yes, you can dry mount and trim neatly on the rolled edges. I use my manual matcutter's bevel blade to cut away from the image on each side, which follows the contour of the edge.

    Kool Tack activates at 160 degrees F in 15-20 seconds, which is so cool and so fast that the heat can not penetrate enough to soften the PVC core. The laminating film I use requires at least 190 degrees F for about five minutes, or 175 degrees F for about 7 -8 minutes. I have not experienced any problems with the few dry mounts I've laminated on ACM, but that is definitely on the high side of time and temperature for the adhesive and the substrate, and maybe for the image, too.

    Industrial sign-making suppliers sometimes will cut to size for a small fee if you buy the whole sheet, so you might want to check other local suppliers, but you would still have to use your own adhesive. Or, Kool Tack will send you whatever sizes you want with adhesive pre-applied.
  38. astraios

    astraios True Grumbler

    It would be great if someone can post a photo of mounted image on a board with rolled edges to see the difference.
  39. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Thank you so much Jim and everyone helping me. I am very grateful.
    Jim, is the dibond board cut larger than needed and then trimmed after the picture is laminated and mounted on it?
    The mat blade is not cutting thru the dibond? Right?
  40. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The board is pre-cut to the desired size, and then the excess substrate of the mounted photo is trimmed to the edges of the ACM, but the blade does not cut the ACM.
  41. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I am revisiting this old post and hoping I can do a good job on orders that I have taken (customers waiting!) . . .
    I have the FSC cutter and have practiced mounting and laminating on dibond.
    Jim, you suggested, cutting the ACM to size first, then mounting the picture on it and trimming the excess paper.
    I have a 24x36 poster to mount on ACM. Would you size the ACM 1/4" smaller than the poster and position the picture on it so 1/8" of excess paper would be trimmed? I am hoping I can cut the ACM larger than the poster to make it easy to mount and laminate on. Then using the FSC to cut along the edges of the poster. However, I seem to have trouble lining the cutting wheel in the right place. Maybe the cutter is not square.

    My second question is that I offered the customers to make a wood frame smaller or the same exact size as the ACM and glue the ACM to the frame.
    Making the frame exactly the same size so the edges show seems difficult. Everything will have to line up perfectly. My concern is that I have also been told by art installers that after a while wood and aluminum will separate even with the best glue. It seems that artists commonly use some kind of metal channel or metal frame for this purpose.

    Bruce Hazany
  42. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    If the surface of the metal is clean and the surface of the wood is also primed, finished or clean, VHB tapes work very well - especially if you use a metal sectional frame as your "strainer". VHB tapes are used to hold truck body parts together. I have yet to see one that I applied fail.

  43. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    On my FSC the ACM cutting head needs to be 5/16" less than desired measurement. So a 24x36 would be aligned at 23 11/16" x 35 11/16".
  44. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Thanks for your help.
    Should I try to make a frame that is the exact size of the ACM to glue under it?
    I would have to cut very exact and the glue has to hold so it looks like a wooden plaque.
  45. Lance E

    Lance E Member

    We typically make the frame 6" smaller so it is not really visible at all. I have had only one returned piece in the time we have been gluing frames to the back and that was after making a piece needed urgently for the next day so it never had the time for the glue (we use "no more nails") to set properly. We have used VHB in the past too and it is very very very strong, we don't use it now simply because we didn't like the finished look as you could see the tape edge.
  46. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The paper sheet needs to exceed the edges of the ACM on all sides by an amount that is easy to trim. 1/4" seems about right. Be sure to practice trimming scrap before having to do it for real.

    This probably would work if your cutter is properly aligned, but not sure, since I have not tried it. When your cutter is properly squared it should stay that way, because the FSC is a more robust design than most similar machines. Mine survived some bumping around during our move in 2012, and it's still square. I aligned the second stop-position of my laser guide to correspond to the cutting line of ACM, which eliminates the issue of lining up the cuts.

    If a frame is involved, why not cut your ACM 1/4" to 5/16" larger on all sides and then center the paper when dry mounting? That way, the frame lip would cover the ACM and show the edges of the paper. When fitting, you would have to shim the ACM sheet in the frame (I suggest using layers of Volara foam tape) to account for the usual allowance.

    Yep, that may be troublesome. How about recessing the frame by making it a few inches smaller than the ACM sheet?

    That depends on the adhesive, and as we all know, artists are not known to select the best adhesives for every purpose. Rob's suggestion of VHB tape seems like a good one, but use plenty and activate its bond using pressure or impact. I suggest parking the car on it overnight. You might also have good results using polyurethane glue (aka Gorilla Glue). That will stick almost anything to anything, but beware the foaming action as it cures, which would make a mess of the frame's finish.
  47. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Thanks for all the advice. It need to learn.
    I mounted the picture for my customer on ACM. Then I laminated it. I love the smoothness.
    Using the FSC, I tried really hard to cut exactly on the edges of the print (size 24x38). Since the picture was mounted at an angle on the ACM, I needed to use shims to line up the wheel. The result was satisfactory but not perfect. The customer agreed to let me make the frame that goes under the ACM 1/2" smaller all around.
    I made a black frame (1" thick) and will be adding a brace in the middle of it. I bought the recommended VHB tape and will be glueing the frame behind the ACM.
    It 's a nice look and I think with practice I can make the results better.

    As far as the FSC, my machine is not perfectly square and I haven't used the laser yet. Actually I squared the left side but not the right side.
    I have a sheet of 5mm ACM. I think the FSC can only cut up to 4mm. The 5mm thickness would be really nice to use especially for large pieces if I could cut it smoothly somehow.

  48. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    5 mm ACM seems awfully thick, difficult to cut, and heavy. Maybe it is necessary for some structural applications, but that thickness probably is not necessary for any framing application. Mostly I use 2 mm, and that is plenty rigid up to about 40x60 size. I once had a 48" x 96" inkjet print mounted to 3 mm ACM, which was intended to stand straight against a wall, unframed. It worked well.
  49. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The right side is designed to sit lower than the left.
  50. Hazany

    Hazany CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Considering how expensive VHB tape is, I want to try "no more nails". Where do you buy this?
    How about using silicone glue or yellow wood glue?

    If the ACM sheet is floated on a wood frame that is recessed, then I thought the thicker 5 mm might look nicer than 3mm.

    When you are glueing the frame to the back of the ACM, I guess it makes more sense to use a brayer and apply pressure on top of the ACM - not from the back. Excessive pressure might bend the ACM?
American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

The American Picture Framing Academy Learn Picture Framing Now

Share This Page

Wizard Ad