The benefits of Metalphoto

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By Chris Doyle | Jun 28, 2017
Example of a Metalphoto nameplate

Are you in need of a highly durable and high-end looking nameplate? Look no further than Metalphoto. This incredibly dependable and innovative material is gaining recognition in its uses for nameplates, placards, serial plates, and asset tags.

What is Metalphoto?

Metalphoto is a specialized type of anodized aluminum used to make nameplates, labels and control panels. Developed for the US Navy in 1950 and specified by most major OEMs, it is one of the most durable identification materials available.

Metalphoto’s construction begins with pure 1100 alloy aluminum. The aluminum is then anodized, which creates a glass-like layer that is sapphire-hard on top of the metal. Next, the anodized layer is impregnated with an inorganic photosensitive compound. Using a computerized imaging machine, the artwork is then projected into the aluminum itself, rather than being printed on top of the metal. The graphics are exposed and developed like a true photograph inside of the anodized aluminum, which causes it to become a part of the nameplate. This is what makes Metalphoto so durable and extremely resistant to corrosion, sunlight/UV degradation, abrasion, high temperatures and chemical exposure. Finally, the parts are placed in a sealing tank to close and encase the graphics underneath the anodic layer.

Metalphoto comes in four different finishes: matte, satin, gloss, and a #4 brushed finish that resembles stainless steel. It ranges from 0.003” (.076mm) to 0.125” (3.175mm) in thickness.

Metalphoto images and text are primarily in black. Additional colors can be added, however there is only a set pallet of colors and they cannot be color matched.

The benefits of Metalphoto

Using Metalphoto rather than etched steel or printed stainless steel has many benefits. Metalphoto has unmatched durability and resistance properties. It can sustain an outdoor life of 20+ years, is resistant to over 7,000 cycles of abrasion, can withstand temperatures in excess of 750°F, and is specifically designed to be salt spray and chemical resistant.

In addition, the resolution of graphics on Metalphoto is significantly clearer than 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 or other 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 make each Metalphoto plate different in image or serial number.

Examples of Metalphoto products

Inovus Solar asked GMN to create a high quality, high resolution nameplate that could last outdoors on their solar-powered street lights. This nameplate needed to be durable in all weather conditions and pliable enough to wrap around the light post, while still sustaining a clear image. Therefore, a thin Metalphoto nameplate was the perfect solution to meet the needs of Inovus Solar.

Another example is a nameplate solution GMN produced for Starbucks. Instead of withstanding extreme weather conditions, Starbucks wanted a high-end nameplate with higher resolution graphics for their coffee machines. The nameplate needed to project clear images while being able to withstand chemical corrosion from cleaning materials. Starbucks went with a Metalphoto nameplate to meet their high quality specifications.

Metalphoto’s durability and resolution makes for a great nameplate, placard, serial plate or asset tag for your product. Metalphoto nameplates are crisp, clear, and are easy to produce in high quantities with variable images/data.

GMN is a certified converter of Metalphoto and has been providing Metalphoto solutions for over 40 years.