The benefits of Metalphoto in the aerospace industry

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By Lauren Rowles | Dec 21, 2017
Aerospace Metalphoto

Are you in need of an extremely durable and high-resolution nameplate? Look no further than Metalphoto. This incredibly dependable and innovative material and process is gaining recognition in its uses for nameplates, placards, serial plates, asset tags, and more. GMN Aerospace has been supplying Metalphoto parts to our customers in the aerospace industry for decades. Metalphoto nameplates are crisp, clear, and easy to produce in high quantities with variable images/data.

What is Metalphoto?

Metalphoto is a specialized type of anodized aluminum used to make nameplates, labels and control panels. Originally developed for the US Navy in 1950 and now 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 on top of the metal that is sapphire-hard. Next, the anodized layer is impregnated with an inorganic photosensitive compound. Using a computerized imaging machine (or Computer to Plate (CTP) 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 products have unmatched durability and resistance properties, including:

  • Sustains an outdoor life of 20+ years
  • Resistant to over 7,000 cycles of abrasion
  • Withstands temperatures in excess of 750°F
  • Specifically designed to be salt spray and chemical resistant

In addition, the resolution of images on Metalphoto is significantly clearer than on etched steel. The method of using a projected image makes letters, numbers, symbols and pictures extremely legible, detailed, 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 materials, Metalphoto doesn’t 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.

Metalphoto in aerospace

Metalphoto is perfectly suited for use in the aerospace industry for reliable equipment and identification items. Ideal for both interior and exterior applications, Metalphoto parts can be seen throughout the typical aircraft in the form of barcode labels, nameplates/data plates, placards, maintenance schematics, machine control panels, and other identification products. Metalphoto is also specified by numerous global aerospace and defense leaders such as The Boeing Company.

Aerospace equipment is repeatedly subjected to abusive conditions such as moisture, extreme temperatures, abrasion, corrosion, UV exposure, and more. These destructive environmental surroundings can easily diminish the quality and legibility of a nameplate, placard, or other identification item.

With Metalphoto, the photosensitive anodized aluminum is one of the most durable identification materials available, making it extremely fitting for environments that are prone to extreme wear. Metalphoto also offers an excellent solution to meet the increasing demand for variability and detail within aerospace nameplates and placards. The photographic resolution of the images ensures that important information – such as technical specifications, serial numbers, etc. – will be accessible and clear when it is needed.

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