Aqueous metal prints VS Dye sublimation

As you know by now we recently introduced Allure Panels by Breathing Color, the direct-to-surface printing aluminum panels. Following their release, we have had questions about the quality, especially compared to dye sublimation.


Printing direct-to-surface is inherently more resolute than dye sublimation. With direct printing, each printer dot is laid onto the media which forms an image.

Maximum dots per inch (DPI) depends on the printer, up to 2880 dpi.

With dye sublimation, ink is laid on the transfer paper first. Then the paper is put in a heat press with the metal, where the ink transforms into a gas and is transferred to the metal. This process reduces the resolution to an approximate equivalent of 360 dpi.


As you can see, the prints on Allure aqueous are much sharper and clearer than the dye sublimation transfer prints. Areas of very fine detail such as the text on a wine label and a woman’s eyelashes can be clearly seen.

For photographers, these visual improvements can make a huge difference. Now you can offer metal prints with the print quality of a smooth fine art paper.


White Point

White point is often the most striking difference when comparing Allure Aqueous with dye sublimation metal.

The sublimation process requires metal panels to be placed in a heat press, where they are cooked under pressure at 350-400F, for 70-90 seconds (depending on brand, size, and other factors).

This heat invariably causes the coating to turn more yellow.

The white and/or lightly colored areas of your image are produced by a lack of printer dots, relying on the whiteness of your media. Therefore, nothing can stop the yellowed base from shining through those areas of your print.


As you can see above, the image printed on the aqueous metal (right) clearly looks whiter than the dye sub metal (left).

With Allure Aqueous photo panels, you print directly onto the bright white ink-receptive coating. The white and/or lightly colored areas of your print stay as white as they were out of the box.

Lamination (required for protection) may slightly reduce whiteness, but much less than the sublimation process.

CIE Whiteness Values (W-E313):

Allure Aqueous With Laminate – 105.83
Chromaluxe Dye Sub – 76.50

Not only does white point affect the whites of the image, but it will affect the rest of the colors as well. The vibrancy of the colors is determined by the brightness of the surface you print on.

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