How Our Specialized Process Works for You
Our heat imaging process is unique and patented for various applications. Our mission is to create distinctive photographic metal products that suit your and your customers’ needs. MasterImage currently prints on flat, rigid surfaces, and if requested can form, shape, cut and emboss.
Here’s our work process in detail:
Most customers supply MasterImage with a high-resolution original image. We are not an art studio or design house, although we do offer a stock photo gallery which may be used to produce some products. We do work with several advertising agencies and can offer design recommendations; however, we rely on the customer to provide the exact image to be printed on metal. There is a one-time, up-front charge for separating the colors in your image using our special process and for mixing our custom inks for your specific job. Please request a cost matrix to determine the charge for your artwork.
Please see our artwork guidelines for details on submitting your art.
Proofs are an optional expense. Customers will receive for approval purposes 10 copies of the image on flat metal from our stock that display the finished image. Proofs are not die-cut or embossed. Customers who want to change colors or rearrange letters or adjust the image in any way may do so one time at no cost. Additional revisions will incur added change costs.
Different coatings are used on different metal substrates depending on the intended use. Customers must specify metal type, gauge or thickness, temper and quantity. We select third-party suppliers of metal and coating based upon availability and cost. Price is very much a function of the amount and type of metal required. Large orders for metal are often processed by coil coaters. Smaller orders may be sheet-coated. We cannot possibly inventory all types of metals or plastics that may be demanded. We maintain inventories of one gauge of aluminum and one gauge of tin plate.
Image Size Limitations
Standard image sizes on metal from our plant range up to 28″ x 40″. Multiple images may be transferred within those size parameters. In other words, in one pass we can print multiple numbers of the same smaller image within the overall 28″ x 40″ dimension. We call it “step and repeat.” At an extra cost, images may increase to 36″ x 48″.
Diecutting and Embossing
Diecutting and embossing services are performed by reputable third party suppliers. Once a die is purchased by the customer, costs are quoted on a per-punch basis, so the greater the quantity, the less the cost per unit. Allow 2-3 weeks of additional production time if diecutting or embossing is involved. Freight and packaging to and from these providers is at customer expense, and may be included in a price quotation if desired.
Forming and Shaping
Several independent manufacturers can produce a variety of shapes, forms and containers from metal coated with our proprietary flexible coatings. Trays, baskets, tins and cans are among the products that can be sized according to need. Many of the third-party formers and shapers require minimum order quantities because they use dies or molds. Customer quantity requirements affect both price and delivery. Freight and packaging to and from independent suppliers is at customer expense but may be included in the overall price. Please note that many manufacturers offer better prices for their standard sizes and shapes.
Our prices are competitive, especially when you consider our image quality. Prices are a function of image size and quantity. Price quotations are F.O.B. our plant near Pittsburgh, PA. Quoted prices are held for 30 days on metal inventories in stock at our facility. Volume orders requiring large metal prices over time are subject to market fluctuations and availability and are subject to changes. Large volume orders require certain customer prepayments to commit metal suppliers to longer-term level prices. We generally require a deposit of one-third of the total invoice amount from customers to pay metal suppliers to initiate the purchase, cutting and coating of coils or sheets of metal for customer use. Customers may elect to purchase coated metal supplies for processing from our approved sources.
Benefits, Capabilities and Limitations of the Heat Image Transfer System
- Photographic Resolution. Expect 200-plus lines of resolution if you provide a computer disk or original color transparency of that quality. Photographs with multiple colors are our specialty. Since multiple colors are transferred at one time, extra colors do not cost more. One recent project included 150 colors in the image. The sophisticated chemistry and physics of the process that is necessary to embed the image in the coated metal rarely prevents color matching, but there are instances when a very trained eye may detect some slight variation.
- Short-Run Capability. Economics usually dictate production quantities of 500 sheets or more of the same image. We have done signs of 200 and less because customers really wanted the quality we provide. Items that are formed, shaped, diecut or embossed are subject to third party minimums order quantities that are generally higher than those of MasterImage.
- Durability. Our technology is durable by any industry standard. Soap and water will wash off surface dirt from metal without harming the image. Marker pens can also be washed or rubbed off. Permanent marker inks may be removed using certain rubbing alcohols or lighter fluid with no harm to the image. A few customers have used our finished signs for dry erase boards and metal price cards for store use. Ultraviolet Ray protection is limited in all printing technologies. MasterImage does not warrant long-term UV protection at this time. Hundreds of test panels are being tested in both northern and southern exposures to determine the best way to protect the dyes and pigments involved. Some customers have used clear protective coatings over the images to gain extra protection.
- Double Imaging. We can transfer images on both sides of many metals in the same pass. We have printed two-sided posters, metal trading cards, point-of-purchase signage, business cards, etc., for some of our customers. Of course, the cost is greater than single-sided printing, but the results speak for themselves.