How to Print on Metal

Metals used in industry include aluminum, stainless steel, zinc, and brass. These are just a few ideas. All options are screen printing, direct digital printing, embossing, laser marking, chemical etching, anodizing, and stamping.

Each method has advantages and disadvantages regarding time, cost, and other aspects. Also, substrates are chosen according to their intended function. Let’s learn some more important information about how to print on metal.

Metal printing makes them more robust and three-dimensional. You may print directly on metal using an inkjet printer. It’s irrelevant if you don’t have an inkjet printer. Images on metal are still conceivable. A metal print can enhance your home’s décor.

Unique canvas prints outperform standard canvas prints in terms of durability and realism. Use this guide to print on metal using an inkjet printer at home and scroll down to read how to print on metal to know more details.

What is a Metal Print?

beautiful scenario on wall hanging

The word “metal print” encompasses a wide variety of concepts. This blog post will cover dye-sublimation on metal, which is the most prevalent method and the one I’ll cover in this article. Begin by printing your picture on erasable transfer paper. A 400°F heat press attaches paper to a coated metal.

 As a result, the ink absorbs into the coating. A floating mount is created by connecting a frame or gatorboard to the back of a metal print with hanging hardware, resulting in a completed work that does not need framing. Additional materials, referred to by laboratories as “metal prints,” may be offered. It may be the case.

  • The metallic paper was used for printing. It is a regular paper print that requires framing or mounting.
  • An inkjet printer prints on metal. Ultraviolet radiation aids the drying process (often called UV direct).
  • Printed photo paper on a metal sheet with an adhesive backing (usually Dibond). After that, a layer of protection is applied to the surface to help safeguard it.

You should determine which approach the lab uses if you carefully review the descriptions. I’m not going to compare these several ways, each of which has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Types of Metals

Those interested in learning more about metal 3D printing should do a lot of reading; it’s important first to understand its features and the pros and drawbacks of various metals. 

Aluminum Alloys  

It is lightweight, has great mechanical properties, and is a good conductor of electricity, among other characteristics.

Cobalt-Chrome Superalloys

Resistant to wear and tear, corrosion-resistant, cope with high temperatures, hard.

Inconel (Nickel Alloys)

All at once, it’s robust, corrosion-resistant, and capable of withstanding extreme heat.

Precious Metals (Silver, Gold, etc.)

Exceptionally strong mechanically and thermally resistant and capable of withstanding severe temperatures.

Stainless Steel

Because of its look, it is beneficial in the fabrication of jewelry. It is both expensive and difficult to get. Despite its hardness and resilience to wear and tear, welding is straightforward.

Titanium Alloys

In cases where weight considerations are important, its corrosion resistance and expansion when heated make it an ideal choice; nonetheless, it is not the best choice in every scenario.

The use of metal filler is permissible in any 3D printing project. We increase the mass created by combining the metal powder with another substance. The printed product is given a metallic look due to this process. 

How to Print on Metal Using an Inkjet Printer? 

A hardware Store May Have Aluminum Flashing

Tiny aluminum sheets are used to make flashing for metal roofs and walls. Using an inkjet printer, make sure the sheet isn’t thicker than the default paper. Aluminum flashing should have a thickness of 0.01 inches. Aluminum flashing is available in various locations, including online and local hardware shops.

Cut the Metal Sheet to the Desired Size

When cutting aluminum flashing, be sure you cut it to the correct print size and the largest print size the printer’s feed can take. To indicate the desired print size, draw lines on a sheet of paper using a measuring tape and cut along the lines using a tin snip.

Sand the Plastic Sheet

The protection layer of metal flashing pulled removed. To guarantee ink adherence, remove the coating layer. The smoothness of the surface you want to print on is critical. You may achieve this by sanding it using a sanding block.

Remove and Clean the Remaining Metal Flashings

Clean the flashing surface with any professional cleaner to eliminate any sanding remains.

Inkjet Ink the Surface

According to the source, a primer is applying to the metal surface to aid ink adhesion. Precoat should be poured straight over the top of the plastic sheet, completely covering it. Then, apply the precoat in a circular motion to the metal surface using a coating bar. It’s critical to have a level coating. Inkjet precoat is available from both a local art supply shop and an internet retailer, although the two are identical.

Protect the Lights with Newspaper

Apply a piece of masking tape to the paper to keep it in place. Remember that you must print on flashing with the face of the flashing facing up. You must insert the paper into the printer to ensure it passes through the feed while printing anything.

Before you Begin, Prepare the Computer Image

You may copy and paste the image you wish to print into a new document and then print it. When moving the picture, keep in mind what you want to happen.

Make Sure the Printer is Fully Loaded Before Using it

Because the previously smoothed and coated side is now ready for printing, you may insert metal into the feed. If you’re unsure which side the printer prints on, load a test sheet to see which side it prints on.

The Printing Work is Almost Finished

For the printer to operate, it needs ink. When you press the print button, the image print. Throw away the paper after printing. Allow the ink to dry before moving it. Follow the instructions outlined above to create a stunning metal print.

Inkjet Printing on Coated Metal

  • Assess the metal for the presence or absence of a paint finish. As the first step in selecting which ink to use for printing on metal surfaces such as aluminum or stainless steel, or any other comparable material, determine which ink to use.
  • Customers interested in metal printing often want to view a sample of the metal before purchasing. It is the initial phase of the project. The metal coating is a common procedure that offers a variety of advantages. The process of printing on metal is tough, but it is not impossible. That’s how ink on metal gets onto the coating! It pre-treats ink to make it printable. Most inks are print on shielded metals.
  • Many people use 3D printing to manufacture metal-based objects, becoming more popular. It is non-corrosive, lightweight, and very adaptable. This material often use in trade show displays and point-of-sale displays, which are two of the most common uses. Aluminum can scan and printed using flatbed scanners with a large scanning area.

Inkjet Printing on Uncoated Metal

  • Printing on uncoated metal may done in some different methods. The first step is to start with a primer. Primers often use instead of specialist inks when a firm prints various items. It saves money since there is no need for ink.
  • Printing on rigid materials like metal or glass may done using light-cured inks. Mercury arc lamps can cure cationic inks exposed to light for the first time. It is because the light excites the ink molecules indefinitely.
  • Because non-cationic inks are more prone to scratching and peeling when cured on a small scale, their durability diminishes as a consequence. As the cationic ink dries, it does not shrink or alter the color.

Inkjet Printing on Flexible or Bending Metals

You may print on metal that has been wrapped around something else using an inkjet printer. Because Kao Collins offers an inkjet ink line that can twist up to 180 degrees, this is possible.

How to Print on Metal Sheets

metal sheet print nature

Some sublimation metal uses include signs, name badges, and trophy inlays. Aluminum is the most often used metal. A variety of finishes are available for aluminum. Copper and brass, satin silver, and gold are among the hues offered, as are dazzling white, brushed nickel, and mirror nickel. While most people purchase sublimation metal in sheets, it may also be purchased pre-cut and sold by firms that offer other metals. Rounded edges, screw holes, and self-sticking backs are common features of this product from vendors specializing in it.



You’ll need a machine to create your mug art.

Use a good photo editing application if at all possible. It is common to see Adobe Photoshop and other design applications such as Coral Draw, Serif Affinity, and Gimp Design in use. Free and open-source software, such as Microsoft Word and other similar applications, may use. Other software packages may or may not have functionality that these do not.

Preparing the Sublimation Metal:

A protective coating place on the printed side of sublimation metal sheets. Clear or blue are the most frequent hues in our environment. “Peeling the protective covering off the metal sheet one piece at a time” is a better term. Place the print side down on a flat surface.

Preparing your Printed Design:

Make sure your design will fit on a sublimation metal sheet if you’re using one. Allow for a 2mm bleed around the border if the backdrop is a solid color.

Top Tips:

While pressing, the metal should be on top. Metal, glass, and slate are requiring to attach the paper to a piece of metal. It means that it is simple to carry out. Heating the material with metal may result in more uniform heat dispersion in this situation. As a consequence, everyone has the same level of power. Your heat press is vital when working with sublimation metal. Allow yourself to experiment until you discover something that works for you. To prevent mottling of the paper, use mild to medium pressure while printing. Sublimation paper strands forced into the metal cover cause damage.

Metal Prints have a Longer Life Span

Although metal prints are constructing of metal, they are more durable than canvas or paper prints. For the most part, these items should endure a long time. When the print finalize, this may change.

Vinyl Wrap Metal Objects, Vehicles, and More

One of the most successful ways for showing large-format images on metal is vinyl wrapping. Graphics may put on stationary metal surfaces, huge signs, and metal surfaces that cover a vast area, as well as any other major project. It is the best tool for this kind of task. It is quite important. Go no farther than the various Roland DG printers and cutting machines that do both duties to produce the highest-quality vinyl prints.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ):

Why Print on Metal?

  • Because of the dye-sublimation technology, your picture will last for a long period. Because of its waterproof, UV-resistant, and scratch-resistant qualities, your Metal Prints will last a long time.

Can You Print on Aluminum?

  • All sublimation materials, including metal, must have polyester coats. Remember that metal is quite forgiving and will not shatter if you are new to sublimation. On metal, the printed color of sublimation paper will look different.

Can You Use Sublimation on Metal?

  • HD Metal prints take time to apply. Direct metal printing suffers from the same problems as ink printing on paper or canvas, but the results are not long-lasting. Simple to get rid of.

What Do Metal Prints Look Like?

  • Their brilliant colors and high contrast distinguish Metal Prints. In general, this medium does not work well with delicate or mild imagery. The picture seems more robust and detailed, with lots of contrast and clarity on the inside. For this reason, they choose to display their artwork in metal.

Do Metal Prints Fade?

  • If you live in a regular home with some sunlight, these metal prints will last 200 years. They endure two years in direct sunshine, which is still long in the art world.


While some perceive art as an investment, others see it as a way to enhance their house. Finally, having art printed on metal is always the finest choice. Because of the art’s endurance and brightness, it may be passed down through generations. If you’re thinking of buying art, think again. Your next project may contain metal prints. By reading this article, you will get detailed ideas about how to print on metal.

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