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Why Hard-Surface Dye Sublimation Is Heating Up

(April/May 2017) posted on Thu May 18, 2017

High-definition dye sublimation on rigid substrates offers fresh options for printing gifts, interior décor, and more.


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By Eileen Fritsch

And in the large-format printing world, ChromaLuxe metal and wood photo panels have captured the imagination of photographers, artists, and designers in more than 65 countries. Manufactured by Universal Woods, also known for the Unisub line of sublimatable products for gifts and awards, Chroma-Luxe panels allow for high quality image reproduction and are highly resistant to surface abrasion, humidity, atmospheric ozone, and contact with water. Metal prints can be safely displayed in public spaces without the need for framing under glass or acrylic, face mounting, or surface laminating.


Photo courtesy of Charleston Gallery on King Street.

At the 2017 Wedding and Portrait Photographers Expo in February, Universal Woods showed works by leading fine art, commercial, portrait, and wedding photographers in four separate galleries. The prints were produced on ChromaLuxe panels by each photographer’s preferred print provider. The company displayed a wider variety of its hard surfaces for dye sublimation at the BDwest hospitality design show in April. “We lead with our wall décor products, which consist of the wood and metal prints,” says Ryan Holtzman, ChromaLuxe brand manager, commercial channel. “We also show our tabletops and flooring products. But we make sure to show our line of other products such as phenolic, fiber-reinforced plastics, and steel [panels] with dry erase.” 

More Innovations in the Works



Beyond the increasing demand for customized goods and the rapidly expanding availability of blank goods that are compatible with dye sublimation, there is no question that improvements to the technology have contributed to its growth in rigid substrate applications. Inkjet technology itself has progressed, and as demand for high quality imaging on rigid substrates has increased, many print service providers have added newer six- and eight-color dye sublimation printers from manufacturers such as Mimaki, Roland, Mutoh, Ricoh, and Sawgrass. Many have also added bigger heat presses from companies such as George Knight, ATI, and Monti Antonio, enabling them to tackle ideas that can’t be executed with older models. Hunter points out that newer specialized heat presses such as 3D vacuum models are driving further innovation by print providers.


Photo courtesy of Mimaki. 


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