What is Metalphoto Processing, and Where Can I Get It?

What Is Metalphoto Processing, and Where Can I Get It?

A Quick Overview of One of the Best Things You've Never Heard Of

What Is MetalPhoto Processing?

We get asked this a lot, mostly because the name MetalPhoto throws people for a loop a little bit. But, don’t worry, we’ve got all the A’s for your list of Q’s.

MetalPhoto Processing is the process of taking anodized aluminum (treated with special chemicals to make it photosensitive) and using intense light to transfer the image, design, or information onto the aluminum layer, much like the process used for taking pictures before the invention of digital cameras.

Your desired image, information, or design, is transferred (through the process mentioned above) through the anodic layer (layer that’s been anodized) onto the aluminum which has been treated with chemicals that make it receptive to imprinting by light. This effectively seals your design, information, etc. onto the surface of the treated aluminum behind the protective anodized surface layer. Thus, creating an extremely durable, high-quality, photo accurate result that is guaranteed to survive the harshest environments and situations.

Why Choose MetalPhoto?

Tough, No Matter What

Every project is unique, and each may call for a specific type or finish for your tags, labels, etc. Sometimes a quick phenolic plastic tag is all that’s required to finish up an control panel project and get it out to your customer. However, since its initial creation in the 1950’s, Metalphoto has become the trusted industry standard used and trusted by Military Engineers, Government Organizations, OEMS, and more. And the reason why is simple: This stuff really, really , really lasts.

Metalphoto has proven time and time again that it can stand the test of time, harsh environments, and the every day wear and tear that comes from regular use of equipment and machinery. That’s why:

“Metalphoto is specified by most major government, industrial, and military organizations including Boeing, Airbus, CaterpillarHoneywell, NASA, and the US Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines." - Metalphoto.org

That’s just how tough and long lasting this stuff is. Metalphoto is the stuff the guys who have to be able to count on something when they need it turn to. And, if it’s good enough for them…

Readable No Matter What

MetalPhotos photosensitive content transfer process ensures a photo-realistic, highly accurate end result that is guaranteed to be just as legible as the source material. (This includes using MetalPhoto to print QR Codes, Bar Codes, Data Matrixes, etc. The photorealistic nature for the MetalPhoto transfer process ensures that your scannable items remain scannable even after they’ve been transferred onto metal. Small or fine text is still just as legible as it was on the page as well.


This also means you can use MetalPhoto to actually transfer high-resolution photographic images onto anodized aluminum as well. (This is an extremely popular choice for making custom commemorative awards.) The extremely high-resolution transfer process allows the photograph to be reproduced flawlessly and is guaranteed to always look crisp and clear. (Which helps you seem even more professional.)

The extremely high-resolution nature of this process also means you can include optional security features if you so choose. Things like micro-text and watermarks can be transferred during the MetalPhoto process (a subtlety not all production processes can claim.)

Change Info Without Extra Cost

Unlike pad printing or screen printing processes, which require a unique plate to be cut or engraved with the design that will be printed on your items, MetalPhoto processing does not require extraneous materials to produce its finished product. Because of this, you're able to vary the information or design of your project from one plate to the next without the wasted material - and less material used equals lower cost, which is always a good thing.


With MetalPhoto, you can have 8 different sets of tags being created with different information on all of them. And you won’t pay extra for that. Unlike with screen or pad printing where each design and every variation (even if it’s just changing a serial number up by 1) requires a whole new plate or screen to be made for that specific design. If you’ve got variable information as part of your project, you’re going to want to go the MetalPhoto route. You’ll be glad you did.

When Should I Use MetalPhoto?

Really, you can use MetalPhoto on any project you’d like. But, there are a few situations in which MetalPhoto really shines. MetalPhoto is resistant to the harsh environments commonly found outdoors that would eat away at the information printed on other materials, thereby rendering them illegible. Thanks to the anodic layer, MetalPhoto doesn’t have that problem. Need something more specific? We got you.

  • Use MetalPhoto when you’re worried about abrasion making your tags illegible. MetalPhoto tests ran a sample plate through an Abraser 7000 times. And even after all that, the image was not affected. Now, that’s some truly tough stuff.

  • Use MetalPhoto when you’re dealing with extreme temperatures. Both high and low, MetalPhoto can stand up to extreme temperatures across the scale. MetalPhoto has been tested and shown to withstand temperatures of 800ºF for a 24 hour exposure test period. (24 hours in an 800ºF oven? Maybe this MetalPhoto stuff is pretty tough after all…)

  • Use MetalPhoto when you’re worried about corrosion. Unlike most materials, MetalPhoto is highly resistant to corrosion. In fact, MetalPhoto tags were exposed to a 5% salt spray (which is highly corrosive over time) for 700 hours! And it had no effect on the MetlaPhoto. Talk about corrosion resistance. Do you think your current tags could hold up to that kind of wear and tear? (Unless you’re ahead of the curve and already riding the MetalPhoto train, we doubt it.) MetalPhoto is just about as tough as they come.

  • Use MetalPhoto when you need something that’s chemical resistant. Unlike many, most, or all other types of materials and production processes, MetalPhoto is highly chemical resistant. MetalPhoto is so resistant to chemicals in fact, that it has passed resistance tests for a vast array of chemicals, including: Turbine and Jet Engine Fuel, Kerosene, Hydraulic Fluid, Ethyl Acetate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Sulfuric Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Nitric Acid, and more. All without having any negative effect on the quality of the MetalPhoto image. Those are unparalleled results compared to any other type of production process.

When you add it all up, the solution is simple. MetalPhoto is the future. It’s highly durable. It allows for photorealistic, flawless transferring of information and images alike. It can withstand the tests of time, nature, chemicals, obscene heat and cold, and just about anything else you could throw at it. It’s the tag that you only have to buy once, because it makes replacement unnecessary. Which, in the long run saves you time, effort, and money. (We don’t know about you, but that kind of triple play is a no-brainer.)

Ok, I'm Convinced... Now, Where Can I Get MetalPhoto Processing?

Fortunately for you, Engrave It Houston specializes in metal photo production as one of the numerous services we offer in-house. Which means your project doesn’t get farmed out to some third party vendor who doesn’t know or care about your business. Your MetalPhoto tags are carefully and accurately created by a highly skilled technician on our team (his name’s Tony, and he’s great). Which means you get the personal touch, the unparalleled customer service, and the commitment to outstanding quality that have made Engrave It Houston an industry leader for over 20+ years.

So, tell us about your project. We're excited to work with you.

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