Wilhelm Imaging Research Tests Durability of Metal Photo Prints

Printing firms and photo labs that use dye-sublimation printing to produce “metal photo prints” for professional photographers and home decor should be aware that all pre-coated metal panels may not be equally durable.

According to Henry Wilhelm, Director of Research at Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR), “Very complex interactions take place between sublimation inks and the ink-receptive polymer coatings of dye sublimation prints.” He said some interactions occur during the short, high-heat image transfer step involved in making metal photo prints. Other interactions occur very gradually over time, during the long-term display and storage of the prints.

“What a metal photo print looks like when it emerges from the heat press tells you nothing at all about how long it will last,” said Wilhelm. He notes that “Sublimation on metal photo panels is a new and rapidly advancing technology, and all aluminum panels — frequently referred to in the marketplace as ‘metal prints’ — are by no means the same. If your lab is using untested products, both you and your customers are flying blind.”

WIR is widely recognized as the world’s leading independent print permanence testing laboratory.

ChromaLuxe Panels Pass Tests with Flying Colors

One of the first companies to promote sublimation printing on high-quality metal photo panels was ChomaLuxe. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company supplies high-quality blank metal, wood, and other rigid substrates for applications that require superb image quality and durability.

Comprehensive, multi-factor print permanence tests at Wilhelm Imaging Research have confirmed the durability of ChromaLuxe sublimatable aluminum photo panels.

ChromaLuxe aluminum sublimation photo panels achieved a WIR Display Permanence Rating of 65 years when printed with Epson UltraChrome DS inks. The WIR Display Permanence Rating is 64 years when printed with Sawgrass Sublijet-HD Pro Photo XF inks.

Although the 4-color Epson and 8-color Sawgrass inks have different dye formulations, and distinctly different individual ink fade patterns, both brands of inks proved to be well matched to the latest ChromaLuxe sublimation coating formulations.


ChromaLuxe photo panels (“metal prints”) are available in sizes up to 4 x 8 feet. The photo panels can be used for all types of photography.

What makes the WIR Display Permanence Ratings for ChromaLuxe panels most impressive is the fact that the prints can be safely displayed without being laminated, displayed behind glass or acrylic, or face-mounted to acrylic sheets.

ChromaLuxe prints have unprecedented resistance to surface abrasion, high humidity, atmospheric ozone, and contact with water.

Wilhelm Imaging Research found that unframed, displayed prints made with the latest generation of ChromaLuxe aluminum photo panels are far more stable and longer lasting than Kodak Endura or other current silver-halide papers, including silver-halide prints framed under UV-absorbing acrylic or glass or when face-mounted to UV-absorbing acrylic.

About Dye Sublimation

Dye-sublimation printing is an attractive process for creating durable photographs because it uses heat to infuse the inks directly into a specialized coating on the surface of metal panels, tabletops, or wood.

ChromaLuxe has committed substantial R&D resources to constantly improve the image quality, permanence, Dmax, and printing consistency of sublimatable photo panels.

“Genuine ChromaLuxe prints now offer photographers an unmatched combination of display permanence, physical surface durability, and color brilliance,” said Kristina Lowe, director of marketing for ChromaLuxe.

You can see ChromaLuxe photo and art panels at the PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo, October 27-29, 2016 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. The PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo is the largest photography and imaging show in North America. It is attended by over 21,000 professional photographers, photography enthusiasts, videographers, students and educators from around the world.


New Specialty Papers for High-End Inkjet Photo and Art Printing

photokina-logoAt the Photokina “Imaging Unlimited” show in Cologne, Germany, leading manufacturers of inkjet photo papers and canvases for aqueous inkjet printers showcased their newest products.

Most of these inkjet photo papers and canvas products were geared for fine-art printmakers and professional photographers who sell art and photographic prints that will last for generations. Some new materials were geared toward producers of posters and photo merchandise. Here’s a quick overview:


The Canson Infinity line of digital fine art and photo papers includes new baryta paper. Canson Infinity Baryta Prestige, 340 gsm combines an alpha-cellulose and cotton white paper base with a true barium-sulfate coating.

Stand: Canson, Halle 3.1
Canson Booth at Photokina 2016. Photo: Koelnmesse GmbH

Canson also introduced Glassine Translucent Interleaving Paper. Available in 44-inch wide rolls, this 40 gsm translucent, archival paper can be used to protect, conserve, and archive large-format photographic prints.

To help newcomers to fine-art photo printing learn more about the process, Canson announced Canson Infinity E-Academy. The online videos explain how to use Lightroom, ICC profiles, calibrated monitors, and color management to get the best results. Other topics addressed by the E-Academy include the aesthetics of a good print, print permanence issues, how to choose an inkjet printer, and how to choose among the different types of Canson Infinity papers.



Hahnemuehle introduced Hahenmuehle Art Canvas Smooth, a limited-edition Hahnemuehle Portfolio Box, and Photo Cards made from Hahenmuehle PhotoRag Ultrasmooth, FineArt Baryta Satin, and FineArt Pearl papers.

Art Canvas Smooth is a creamy, natural-white poly-cotton canvas with a smooth surface texture. Made without optical brighteners, the canvas meets the quality expectations for museum and gallery art.

Hahenmuehle Portfolio Box provides an elegant way to store art. The box is made from acid-free, archival materials and features a fine-textured 100% cotton cover material. The limited edition includes 50 A3+- sheets of FineArt inkjet paper (Photo Rag® 308, the high-gloss FineArt Baryta, or semi-gloss FineArt Baryta Satin).  To protect the stored prints from scratches and abrasion, each box also includes 50 interleaf sheets made from acid-free glassine paper. A pair of gloves and three Certificates of Authenticity with holograms are included.



ILFORD showcased a new washi fine-art paper and a photo paper specifically for black-and-white photography.

ILFORD GALERIE Prestige Gold Mono Silk is a 10.5 mil, 270gsm photo paper developed specifically for photographers who specialize in black-and-white photography. With a high Dmax and low Dmin, this paper provides a seamless transition between shadows and highlights.

ILFORD GALERIE Prestige Washi Torinoko is a 6.7 mil, 110gsm fine art paper without optical brighteners. The Washi base paper is manufactured in Japan on a specialized machine that emulates the look of traditional Washi handmade papers. This acid-free paper has a fine textured surface and a coating that provides a wide color gamut and excellent color consistency.


Innova announced their Editions range of fine art and photo media. The range includes four cotton rag art papers with a range of tones and textures and two papers for fine art photography. Four of the papers are rebranded versions of existing products. The two Fabriano products are new.


Fabriano Artistico Watercolour Rag 310 gsm is a 22 mil, natural white, mould-made 100% cotton rag archival art paper with the rougher surface popular for watercolor painting.

Fabriano Printmaking Rag 310 gsm is a 22 mil, natural white, mould-made, 100% cotton rag, archival art paper with a soft-grain (etching-like) texture on the surface.

Photo Cotton Rag 315 gsm was formerly known as Smooth Cotton Natural White 100% Cotton

Etching Cotton Rag 315 gsm was formerly known as Soft Textured Natural White 100% Cotton

Exhibition Cotton Gloss 335 gsm was formerly known as FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss

Exhibition Photo Baryta 310 gsm was formerly known as FibaPrint Baryta


In addition to the new Editions Range, Innova updated the “Innova Canvas” product line.

A new Exhibition Matte Cotton Canvas 370 gsm is included in the collection of six inkjet canvases Innova offers for aqueous inkjet printers.

Exhibition Matte Cotton Canvas 370 gsm is a heavyweight, all-cotton, archival matte canvas made without polyester. This instant-dry canvas is well suited for artists who want to use an inkjet pigment print as the foundation for an original, mixed-media art piece.

The Innova Canvas product line also includes two semi-gloss canvases for printers that use eco-solvent, latex, or UV-curable inks.


Moab, a division of Legion Paper, showcased their 100-percent cotton Juniper Baryta Rag 305. The paper features a true baryta (barium sulfate) surface that holds details in the deep blacks of the shadow regions of an image while produce natural white highlights. The images are enhanced with a slight surface gloss.


Sihl GmbH The Coating Company announced two new heavyweight matte coated papers that can be used to create posters on printers that use water-based dye or pigment inks. (The papers also work with printers with latex or UV-curable inks.)


SIHL PosterBright x 210 (3282) is a bright-white 210 gsm, 8-mil paper for photo books, photo reproductions, and indoor posters. A built-in barrier coating helps ensure that prints remain flat and cockle-free, even when printed with high densities of ink.

SIHL PosterBook x 260 Matt (3283) is a premium, natural-white, acid-free paper with a gloss surface. At 13-mils thick, this heavyweight poster paper is ideal for printing sample books or photo enlargements that will be framed.

SIHL Sublicolor Impact Paper 110 Matt (3796) is designed for the dye-sublimation transfer of high-quality images to coated or pre-treated metal, wood, or ceramic tiles.


The Wall-Ready range of inkjet media from James Cropper includes direct-print photo posterboards in matt, gloss, and satin finishes. The boards are designed for the creation of razor-sharp photo prints that are ready to hang without lamination.

The boards can be printed on all Epson Sure Color and Stylus Pro printers as well as Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100, iPF6400, and iPF6450 models. The boards are available in sizes ranging from 10 x 12, 11 x 14, and 12 x 16 inches up to 16 x 20 and 20 x 30 inches. Other sizes can be manufactured upon request.

James Cropper also displayed their Khora canvas box-display system for making ready-to-hang wall art. The pre-scored, flat-packed, printer-ready product eliminates the need for canvas stretcher bars. .

As demonstrated in the video below, after printing on the supplied canvas, you fold it over top the foldable display-box board. The canvas attaches to the box with a board “lock-in” system.  Khora printable box-display kits are available in 12 x 12, 12 x 16, 11 x 14, and 16 x 20 inch sizes.