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Opinions Wanted Anyone Printing on Aluminum?

Discussion in 'Photography Issues' started by echavez123, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    One of the highlights at WCAF was the Dye Transfer to Aluminum demo. I watched, studied, researched and asked the pertinent questions. However, my entry cost for a 44" printer and 20x25 press is about $9K. The most important issue is selling the service. Assuming material cost is about $10 per sq foot, I would have to sell the service for ~ $32-$35 per sq ft. I just dont know how long it would take to get an ROI. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I've had some customers order them online and your pricing is about what they were paying for the pieces with stand off frame attached to the back. Very few of them sold until they added frames and the combination of the higher printing cost and fragile surface made them a hard sell for the photographers. Since you are in an area that has a large number of surface mounted to acrylic prints you may have more demand than what we have seen here.

    I have quite a few customers who collect Peter Lik photos but those were the combination of size, name recognition and casino glitz with the promise of appreciation in value so they have turned a blind eye to the aluminum photos. Most of the area photographers were being very frugal and not printing beyond 12x18 so they just don't make the impact a large piece would make. I think there would be some market in larger sizes floated over black fabric in an impressive frame but here there aren't many in the biz willing to take the risk on the total expense when the commission to the galleries are taken onto account.

    In considering your local market you might look at how many of the photographers are willing to absorb the extra cost of printing on metallic papers and other high end materials. Also consider the expense of a nice frame presentation since one of my Peter Lik collectors is having me add the framing to a couple of pieces purchased without the frame and is not happy with the look.
     
  3. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    We sell a LOT of printing on aluminum - but we use a service bureau and that is all they do. It looks fantastic and sells very well. You will also need material handling and cutting equipment. I don't think you can get a presentable edge from a wall cutter and will need a shear (if the images are not being framed.) For those images, we also require all our edges to be round, so you will also need a rounding die.
     
  4. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think it would be helpful to first identify your target market.
    Maybe professional photographers, artists, general public etc?
     
  5. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    1) My experience is that the finished surface of aluminum seems durable and doesnt need any extra protection. I tried to scratch the sample at WCAF.
    2) Standoffs are ok, but my preference would be to adhere a cheap metal frame backing.
    3) Framing would be easy and preferable; however, there would be a much higher total cost. This would be the exception.
    4) Most customers would likely want aluminum with a hanging system, prob attached with adhesive like ATV 103 etc.
    5) Cutting would certainly be an issue; otherwise, we could not get favorable costs in larger sizes. Dont have a solution for this.
     
  6. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Rob, I am curious as to the markup amounts you are able to charge customers. Cost x 2, cost x 2.5, cost x3 etc. In order to do that, I would have to get a wholesale cost of ~ $15 sq foot. I like the idea of not having to invest if I can get my cost down to a reasonable amount.
     
  7. echavez123

    echavez123 MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    There is also another technology which is emerging. Animated backlit images. This may replace printing on aluminum. Here is the concept: Image is printed on a semi-translucent material. Second coat is "painted" to the back of the image with phosphor paint. Electronics are added to the painted areas. The lighting of the phosphor coated is programmed into a PROM chip, enclosed in a case along with a lithium battery and attached to the phosphor surface via a thin ribbon cable. You may have seen this on hats, t-shirst and other wearable illuminated imagery.

    The effect is programmed sections of the image are illuminated in a controlled sequence with varying light intensity. In addition, the lights can be activated by sound! So, for example you can clap your hands, or speak loudly to activate a lighting sequence. Another example: imagine an image of an approaching storm with dark foreboding clouds. You begin to play soft music. As the music hits a crescendo, a bolt of lightning is illuminated in the dark area of the clouds.

    A real life example is the Michael Jackson "One" marquee at the MGM. The sign uses this technology.

    I have seen demos and it looks really kool. However, the target selling price is $300 per sq foot! Do you think there is a market for this? On the Vegas strip? This is a a high-end, high $$$$ item. You will see this emerge shortly.
     
  8. SportShots

    SportShots CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I don't believe this. Dye transfer takes three matrices soaked in the dyes and laid down in perfect registration. I don't know of any lab that still does this process. Maybe I am wrong and if so would love to know what lab is doing dye transfer images now. Ctein has been one of the last well known dye transfer printers and even he has stopped due to so many difficulties getting the materials.
     
  9. jferrari

    jferrari CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

  10. ArmyFramer

    ArmyFramer MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We have been doing Dye Sublimation for about 10 years now. We print everything from 11x17 photos to brass plates. Granted its on a smaller scale the what you are looking for, but the margins are good when using the right distributors.
     
  11. DanGray

    DanGray MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We also do the smaller Dye Sub and it is worth it. Our normal mark up is about 5x
    I have been doing the metal and offering to float mount them on our barn wood frames
     
  12. Sonny

    Sonny CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    A company sent me a sample recently of a photo glued to what I think is called die bond. It appears to be a black center and thin aluminum attached to each side. They then somehow glued a sheet of plexi on top of the glossy photo to protect it. How did they attach the plexi without showing any signs of glue? It looks great but I am sure it is expensive and hard to do.
     
  13. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    There are two ways to achieve this- face mounting to acrylic using the appropriate adhesive in a roller press (and in a clean room) or Diasec.

    One "advantage" of the Diasec process is that if there is a speck of dust between the print and acrylic, one can lift the print to correct the flaw before proceeding. No so with a roller press and face mount adhesive.

    The print is usually mounted to the acrylic first, then the backing is applied. Sometimes it is a simple sheet of PVC (like Sintra) but the ACM is the more rigid way to go.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diasec

    http://www.drytac.com/mounting-adhesives/facemount.html

    The backing material you are describing is called, ACM (aluminum composite material). One brand name is called, Dibond. It is two thin pieces of aluminum sandwiched between a layer of polyethylene. http://graphicdisplayusa.com/en/products/dibond/dibond/
     
  14. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    diasec is a brand name, just like dibond.

    the basic premise of how disc works is you laminate the print first then use optically clear silicone to stick it to the acrylic, i am experimenting with one at the moment

    traditionally i use face mount film, which works well but as rob says bit of dirt and its ruined, now for me its not the end of the world, as i can just reprint, BUT there is a a cost obviously
     
  15. Sonny

    Sonny CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Thanks for the info. I have seen many of these and wondered how they were done. For a framer dirt under the glass is enough of a pain I can't imagine the problems this system presents. Glad I am no longer a framer because I would be attracted to the ACM method and I am sure it would drive me crazy.
     
  16. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm making a presentation next week of disublimation printing on Dibond to a manufacturing client that wants images of their products in their plant. I would use a jobber I met at a recent supplier open house. 24x36 to 32x40 size images.
     
  17. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

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