Sublimation Prints vs. Facemount

Facemounting is one of the most popular treatments for digital prints, and it is natural that a glossy sublimation print on metal would draw comparisons. But, the two products differ greatly in materials, process, and the overall look of the image. So how do you choose the right product for your digital file?

Facemount starts with a pigment-based ink and fine art digital paper – either resin-coated gloss photo paper or Moab Slickrock Metallic Pearl. The print is then laminated onto an aluminum composite backing, and faced with a clear adhesive, permanently mounted to acrylic.

Sublimation prints are created through an image transfer process that includes a specialty dye-transfer image that is then heat-set into the surface of the metal. Sublimation prints do not involve any mounting or laminating.

Both Facemount and sublimation offer long-lasting prints. The Facemount adhesive that laminates the print to the acrylic contains UV stabilizers that prevent light fade or yellowing of the adhesive and image, resulting in a long-lasting print. The acrylic layer of a Facemount should be cleaned with a soft cloth to avoid minor surface abrasions.

The sublimation print is more durable, as the application of heat during the transfer process fuses the ink into the surface layer of the aluminum sheet. The inks cannot be removed, scratched out, or washed out with water. Sublimation prints can be easily cleaned with water and a soft cloth, and are not as prone to surface scratches as the acrylic Facemount. No need to worry about chips in the edges of the sublimation print should it accidentally be bumped or knocked off the wall.

The different surfaces of these two products create different results in the printed image, and one treatment may be more effective with what you want your image to convey than others. The added acrylic on Facemount prints emphasizing the colour and contrast within your image. With images with a shallow depth of field, this can create a near-3D effect. If colour accuracy is essential, a Facemount with RC Gloss paper will produce the greatest results as the glossy, bright white base paper has a wide gamut and exceptional colour brilliance. Facemount prints on Slickrock Metallic Pearl have a slight, metallic colour shift, particularly in the light or white portions of the photo, where the colour of the base paper shines through. This adds a cool, pearlescent tone, which brings a sparkle to images with bright whites, metals, or interesting lighting effects.

Sublimation has a slightly smaller colour gamut than a print on paper, so subtle contrast may be lost, but the high-gloss finish provides an impressive backdrop that brings twinkling whites, and a warm colour shift to your print. Both vividly coloured images and black and white photography yield impressive results with sublimation printing.

C-Bar Hanging System

While there are similarities between facemount and sublimation printing, they produce different effects with your image. They both offer a long lasting, modern, frameless display for your image, with the included C-Bar Hanging System, available in ⅝″ and 1¼″ deep profiles, which lifts the print from the wall or hanging surface for a floating appearance.