Video: What is Metalphoto?

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By Marc Doan | Jan 24, 2020
Example of a Metalphoto nameplate

Are you in need of a highly durable and high-end looking nameplate? Then look no further than Metalphoto®. This incredibly dependable and innovative material is gaining popularity in highly regulated industries such as defense, transportation, industrial and aerospace. 

Metalphoto® | Photosensitive anodized aluminum  

Metalphoto® is a specific type of anodized aluminum used to make nameplates, labels, control panels, serial plates, placards and asset tags. Originally developed for the US Navy in the 1950's and specified by most major OEMs, it is one of the most durable identification materials available today. Our latest video demonstrates the step-by-step process in which Metalphoto® components are fabricated. 

To begin the Metalphoto® process, all that is needed is a digital art file. This art file is transferred via laser onto a pure 1100 alloy aluminum sheet, which can range in thickness between 0.003” to 0.125”. The sheet is then put through a processor that develops the artwork on the photosensitive aluminum. Although Metalphoto® images and text are primarily black, additional colors can be screen-printed at this time.

The graphics are exposed and developed like a photograph inside of the anodized aluminum, which causes it to become a part of the nameplate. This unique production method provides the unparalleled durability that Metalphoto® is known for. Finally, the parts are placed in a nickel sulfite tank to seal the sliver-based graphics underneath the sapphire-hard anodic layer. All graphics and text on a Metalphoto® component are sealed inside of the anodic layer, making it ideal for any identification material where maintaining legibility is crucial. Metalphoto® comes in four different finishes: matte, satin, gloss and a #4 brushed finish that resembles stainless steel.

Benefits of Metalphoto® or anodized aluminum 

Metalphoto® has several advantages over alternatives such as engraved or printed steel. It can sustain an outdoor life of 20+ years, can withstand temperatures in excess of 750°F and is specifically designed to be salt spray and chemical resistant. It is also is resistant to over 7,000 cycles of abrasion.

In addition, the graphics on Metalphoto® are significantly higher in resolution than those on etched steel. The method of using a projected image makes any letters, numbers, symbols and pictures extremely legible and appear as crisp and clean as a photograph. Metalphoto® is also less expensive than stainless steel in lower quantities, especially for variable data runs. Unlike steel nameplates, it does not require individual engraving, punching or laser marking for variability in images or information. Using the computerized imaging process also makes Metalphoto® perfect for serialization, as it does not affect the process or price to customize each Metalphoto® plate. 

Certified Converter of Metalphoto® 

GMN has been a certified converter of Metalphoto® for over 40 years and has been provided anodized aluminum solutions to several companies including Boeing, Starbucks, Inovus Solar, Lockheed Martin Corporation and more. 

To see the Metalphoto® production process in action, watch our video below.