There are two ways to end up with photography on acrylic panels.
1. First print an image on a smooth photo paper and then face mount the photograph onto the acrylic panel using a clear adhesive.
2. Direct print onto the acrylic panel. Printing directly to the underside surface of the acrylic panels requires sophisticated wide format printers and attention to detail.. For optimum results our acrylic image panels are printed at 1000 dpi using UV cure ink sets.
I find that both methods produce a beautiful vivid image with a deep translucent quality. And we offer both types of acrylic artwork.
The mounted photograph method has been around longer and is the most common approach. However, if there is a tiny speck of dust or grit around and it lands on the acrylic, or the adhesive, or the photographic print, the artwork can be ruined. An air bubble or speck of something between the print and the acrylic panel means the piece needs to be discarded and the entire process started over. There can be a 10% to 40% failure rate during mounting depending on the experience level and how clean the equipment and working environment is. And Murphy's law comes into play here with larger artwork sizes - the larger the panel the more likely it will happen. (and I specialize in large artwork)
To me, this means a waste of materials (not an environment friendly process). So I explored the direct printing option. (a way to avoid the photograph-to-acrylic mounting process.)
UV cure inks can be used to print directly onto acrylic (and aluminum, wood and other materials like our wall covering media). However, you will sometimes hear that the color range is more limited and the direct printed acrylic artwork just does not look as good as the mounted photograph method. And that can sometimes be the case.
There are many different types of UV printers, ranging in price from less than $5,000. to over $500,000. And a wide range of printing methods and operator skill levels, as well. Not all UV cure printing is equal.
After considerable testing, my conclusion is that when using a top end printer with skilled operators and adjusting the printing process for optimum print results ... the direct print acrylic panels are outstanding.
And this is a process that:
uses environment friendly inks
offers less waste of materials and resources
is more cost effecient (due to the less waste factor)
This is why we often recommend the direct print method when a client is looking for acrylic wall art. We would be happy to discuss your project and provide quotes using both methods.