Aluminum composite materials (ACM) and similar aluminum products are available in a range of thicknesses, gloss levels, colors, and sizes. The versatile medium is durable and lightweight.
In part one of this two-part series we discussed the advantages, demand, and printability of ACM as a digitally printable substrate.
On the Market
Several providers offer ACM options.
For example, 3A Composites USA is the manufacturer of DIBOND, which Chuck Kunze, director, product management and marketing, 3A Composites, says is the first aluminum composite panel designed specifically for the display and graphics industries. With almost 30 years of manufacturing experience, 3A Composites’ ACM has been continually advanced to ensure that the performance of its surfaces not only serves aesthetic purposes but also comply with all technical and processing expectations or requirements.
“The quality with which we manufacture DIBOND is a differentiator,” notes Kunze. He says the production site is certified according to DIN EN ISO 14001 and no hazardous processes or substances are used during production. All applied lacquer formulas do not contain heavy metals.
DIBOND ACM is available with a variety of surface finishes including matte and gloss, as well as a textured brushed metal, plain aluminum metallic finish, and a range of standard gloss/matte colors.
“The biggest difference between products when digitally printing is how the surface finishes affect the appearance of the print,” offers Kunze.
He explains that for one, the standard white is great for informational signage or displays that have lots of sharp lines or details—the extremely smooth and flat faces provide an ideal surface for precise ink placement. Secondly, using the aluminum metallic as the base adds some luster and excitement to a print, ideal for eye-catching displays and signs designed to stand out and make an impression. Finally, brushed metal finish brings a level of sophistication and design when printed, making it an ideal solution for high-end retail or interior design applications.
Eastsign International offers a flat sheet ACM product, which can be standard or custom size according to the local market trend. Frank Wu, sales, Eastsign, says ACM is a mature product in the building material industry. It’s very easy to be fabricate even at the project site, which brings it flexibility and simple handling.
Nudo offers NuAlum, which is an aluminum-faced product laminated to exterior grade plywood; AlumaCorr, an aluminum laminated to the front and back of fluted polypropylene co-polymer core; and polymetal, an aluminum laminated to the front and back of recycled thermoplastic core.
When to Use
ACM is well suited for a range of applications.
“ACM is a very good solution for exterior or long-term signage and display applications that require the rigidity, durability, and light weight properties it offers. It’s also ideal for creating dimensional displays, as the high-quality aluminum facers offer the ability to be rout and returned to create the desired dimensional form,” says Kunze.
He adds that printed ACM can be easily machined or bent to a radius to create dramatic designs for displays, signs, fixtures, and other permanent graphic elements.
ACM products are widely used for both interior and exterior applications in building, signage, and advertising, says Wu. He adds that they are lightweight and easy to fabricate, like bending and cutting.
Marla Gomez, director of architectural building products, Nudo, believes that digital printing is just one use for ACM and aluminum-faced products. “These panels are very stable and flat, making it easy to print directly onto surfaces or when applying decals. These products can be bent and returned and are available in many different colors and gloss levels,” she adds.
ACM is a diverse medium utilized for a range of digitally printed products. Suppliers in the market offer many sizes, finishes, and thicknesses to serve a variety of needs.
Nov2021, Digital Output