Acrylic Prints Standoffs Option Available

While most of our customers prefer our acrylic prints to float off the wall with the hanging hardware completely hidden, on occasion we’ll get a request to provide a standoff hanging solution.  Whether that’s due to wanting to match an acrylic print you purchased somewhere else, prefer this look or need it for more secure hanging, we can do it for you custom!

We can provide the standoff hanging solution with our 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick acrylic.  This option excludes the dibond backer since it’s not as necessary.  The standoff bolts in each corner help keep the print from bowing.  Our floating/hidden option requires a dibond backer to provide that rigidity along with a place to adhere our floating and hanging hardware.

A Note About Secure Hanging:

Some customers want the standoff hang option for more secure hanging.  For example, in a public space where there might be concerns about someone deciding they love the art and believe it will look better in their own home 🙂  In reality, this option isn’t 100% secure, but certainly a better deterrent to theft than a wire hanging solution.  For a completely secure hanging solution, we recommend our hidden float and hang system using an aluminum cleat.  We include security hardware and a unique tool so that only those with the tool can remove the art.  This is custom as well so please inquire about this options if you need it.

We don’t currently offer the standoff option or security hardware within our online ordering system so please contact us for pricing and details!

This article highlights all the custom acrylic prints options.

 

Photos On Glass Vs Acrylic Face Mounting

In taking customer calls, live chats and emails we see a lot of similar questions being raised about product specifications along with some confusion about what exactly our customer is looking for.  Today, I wanted to clear up a bit of confusion as well as lay out the differences, advantages, and disadvantages between photos on glass and photos on acrylic.

I think some of the confusion lies in the fact that sometimes people see an acrylic print in a gallery and not knowing exactly what it is, assume it is glass.  If the photo you see in a gallery is frameless it will almost always be acrylic.  Adding to the confusion, some companies are using “glass” and “acrylic” interchangeably in their marketing copy so you might be thinking you’re getting glass, but it’s actually acrylic!

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Non Glare, Anti Reflective & UV Protected Acrylic (Plexiglass) For Face Mounting

If you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out what all the various types of acrylic (otherwise known as plexiglass) are and what the differences are, then you know it can be overwhelming, to say the least.  For most people, you won’t concern yourself with this and just trust that a high quality clear cast acrylic is going to be a great option for your acrylic face mount.  This kind of acrylic is going to offer optically clear acrylic free of impurities and will offer UV protection.  Our standard acrylic offers about 75% UV protection.

What if you want a few more bells and whistles in your acrylic?  If you’re a pro photographer, a digital artist, painter or really anyone reselling, you might consider a premium acrylic option which can provide additional benefits such as reduced glare/reflection, more UV protection, scratch resistance and anti-static properties.  This is where it gets confusing and difficult to decide on what to use.  Many companies offer these upgrades in many combinations and the naming you often see is non-glare or anti-reflective.  The non-glare or matte acrylic will at times eliminate glare/reflection almost completely but with big tradeoffs such as diminished vibrancy and image distortion.   If you want to avoid glare completely with acrylic there isn’t any getting around those drawbacks.  A better option is the best of both worlds where you get some reflection reduction without any decrease in vibrancy.  We have tried a few of the acrylics out there in various combinations of upgrades and only found one we like, recommend and sell.  That is the TruLife product from Tru Vue.  Not only does it help reduce glare (up to 30% by our estimates), but the vibrancy remains, and you get the added bonus of being scratch resistant, anti-static (which diminishes dust) and more UV protection at 99%.

While the TruLife adds to the price and is only available in 1/8″, it may be just what you’re looking for.  You can configure an order for your acrylic face mount with this option and many others over at our super simple upload and configure page.

What Is An Acrylic Print?

We see many people searching for and asking about “acrylic prints” and there is still quite a bit of confusion about the differences that each company provides.  An acrylic print is produced in one of two ways – either by printing directly to the acrylic OR by face mounting, where your photo gets printed to high grade photo paper and reverse mounted to the acrylic.

The direct to acrylic printing option is what many of the large print houses do and it’s a much cheaper option since there is far less labor involved and it’s mostly machine produced.  Any company can get into the manufacturing of acrylic prints this way and many have.  They can churn out quite a few per hour this way.

acrylic prints

Acrylic print closeup and annotated with components. Shown is 1/4″ acrylic print with polished edge.

The acrylic face mounting method (components shown at left) is how it was always done (starting in Europe with the Diasec process) before machines were used to try to replicate the look.  The acrylic face mounting method is far more laborious and difficult to achieve without imperfections.  So, why go through the difficult multi-step process of hand making acrylic prints using the face mounting method?  Simply put .. quality.  No machine produced acrylic print will match the vibrancy and quality of an acrylic face mount.

To wrap it up, know which way your lab is producing the acrylic print.  Not all are created equal.   As the ‘ol cliche goes .. you get what you pay for and that is certainly true with acrylic prints.  Here at Bumblejax, we pride ourselves on being one of just a small handful of labs in the US who can create gallery quality acrylic face mounts and we’d love to produce one for you!  You can see more about our face mounted acrylic prints here.

Now Offering Tru Vue Premium Acrylic For Face Mounting

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We are pleased to announce that we are now offering Tru Life acrylic from the leader and innovator in photo display conservation.  Tru Vue’s acrylic product offers a few enhancements over our standard clear cast acrylic that might be of interest you.

  • Anti-reflective.  In our testing we put it at about a 30% reduction in glare over standard acrylic.
  •  Scratch resistant.  It can still scratch, but not quite as easily.
  • Anti-static properties greatly reduces dust, therefore less cleaning of your acrylic art is needed.
  • 99% UV protection vs about 75% UV protection of regular acrylic.
  • Cleans like glass so can use regular glass cleaner (must be ammonia free).  Special acrylic cleaner should not be used.
  • Optical Coating – optimal clarity for truer color transmission and the greatest color neutrality.
  • Over 98% light transmission vs 92% of standard acrylic providing a touch more contrast and brightness.
 Currently, the Tru Life acrylic product is offered as custom and not yet available for ordering online.  Contact us today for a quote!  It’s about 10-15% more in price and only available in 1/8″ thickness, but we can do any size up to 96×48″.  You can see more about our acrylic face mounting process here.

Photographer Review: Acrylic Prints vs Metal Prints

A little while back we sent Keith (aka Captain Photo) a complimentary sample of our acrylic face mount product since he hadn’t seen this kind of presentation before.  He was under no obligation to provide a review and certainly not review it positively.  We’re very confident in the quality of our products, but you never know how someone might feel about it.  Fortunately, Keith was very impressed saying “Once you go Bumblejax, you never go back!”  Ha, now that’s a great slogan 🙂  In the video below he compared our acrylic print product to his previous standard of excellence – the metal print.  It’s nice to know Keith now has a new standard of excellence!

You can get all the details on our acrylic face mounting process here.

Acrylic Photo Blocks Are Here!

It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point, but we’re thrilled to finally announce our newest product – acrylic photo blocks.  These 1″ thick beautifully polished acrylic works of art bring your photos to life in extraordinary fashion.  The thick acrylic refracts light in a way that illuminates your image in the right light and provides for a 3-D effect.  They are free standing so are perfect for a desk or mantle.   With Mother’s Day around the corner this would make a perfect gift and we’ll give you a little extra incentive with a 10% launch discount.

We are currently offering these in 3 sizes with the common digital camera aspect ratios of 4:3 (6×8″) and 3:2 (6×9″) as well as a square format for you Instagramers out there (7×7″).  In the future we may offer additional sizes depending on what our customers want.

Retail pricing for these pieces begins at $59 and goes to $75 depending on size and whether there is an upgrade to metallic paper (for even great vibrancy!)  We may be able to accommodate custom sizes, but we would require a minimum order of $500.

====> Check out all the details of our new acrylic photo blocks here

acrylic photo blocks
 photo credit: Janice Phenix

 

Acrylic Prints Buyers Guide: What To Look For

Not all acrylic prints are created equally, so we thought it was important to write up a little guide to help those looking for acrylic printing services and make an apples to apples comparison when looking at prices.  It’s a guide to help you in forming questions for the company you may use, although we hope you’ll give us strong consideration! First and foremost, it’s important to know that there are two very distinct processes in creating an acrylic print with two different outcomes – direct printing onto the acrylic substrate and the face mounting method of printing onto the photographic paper, then mounting behind the acrylic.

We’ve been producing face mounted acrylic prints now for nearly a decade so have seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years particularly in the way acrylic prints are produced and where.  When we started it was just a handful of boutique print companies in the USA and Europe producing high quality face mounted prints.   In recent years that has changed completely with just about every company now offering some variation of an acrylic print (including canvas companies) with wide differences in quality of components, craftsmanship, and certainly price.

For gallery quality art, which is what we currently focus on, we wouldn’t consider the direct print method as it leads to inferior results in terms of color accuracy, vibrancy as well as permanence (color fading).  We believe for fine art applications photos were meant to be printed on paper and produced at the highest quality.  You can see more on our acrylic photo mounting process here.

So, Question #1? Where is the acrylic made?  Is it outsourced?  In the last couple years or so we’ve seen a big increase in companies outsourcing direct to acrylic prints to China, India and Mexico.  In fact, at least 3 out of the top 10 companies listed in Google for the term “acrylic prints” outscource the product outside the US.  The result is dramatically lower pricing but at a cost in color accuracy, vibrancy and permanence (ie color fading over time).  Some of the big photo labs are even outsourcing the face-mounted acrylic prints as well but that typically happens in the USA to better control the quality of a difficult process.  Here at Bumblejax, the entire process is in-house at our Seattle facility so that we can control the quality from beginning to end.  Every single file is manually reviewed for print quality, flaws, color suggestions, etc before going to print.  From there, the acrylic print is produced free of defects and inspected before being packaged to ensure the highest quality.  If there is a single bubble or noticeable spec of dust it gets redone.

Question #2? Do you print to the acrylic directly or face mount by printing onto paper first then mounting?  You’ll find that companies who print directly onto the acrylic are able to offer it at a cheaper price (particularly if outsourcing outside the US), so if you don’t mind giving up some color accuracy, vibrancy, and permanence this may be a good option particularly for outdoor spaces and signage where it’s not as critical.  The face mount process is more labor-intensive and there aren’t many companies doing it well on a consistent basis.  It isn’t an easy process, but the end result is well worth it.

Question #3?  Does the price include “gallery quality”?  This is only a question to ask if the acrylic print is face mounted.  The machine made direct to acrylic prints won’t have this issue since the ink is added directly to the acrylic.  What is typically considered gallery quality?  While the quality of the components are certainly critical and we’ll get into that in a bit, in this regard we’re referring to the acceptable level of imperfection that can arise during the acrylic face mounting process.  In particular, dust specs and bubbles that can get trapped between the acrylic and the print itself.  This is a common problem which is why most companies won’t take it on and just print directly to the acrylic.  Having to redo an acrylic face mount is expensive especially if it has to be redone a few times!  Most photo labs offering acrylic face mounting get around this in one of two ways – by offering “gallery quality” as a high-priced upgrade option or using a disclaimer that says the price being offered may include visible imperfections.  At Bumblejax, our pricing always includes gallery quality and yes that means that sometimes we redo prints (sometimes more than once).  We just aren’t comfortable offering anything less. 

Question #4?  What kind of backing material is used?   Unless the company doing your acrylic print is printing directly on the acrylic and using stand-off bolts, there is a good chance that a backing material will be used to attach hanging hardware as well as stabilize the acrylic.  This is important.  This will generally consist of two materials – sintra, dibond or possibly another sheet of acrylic.  Sintra is high-density plastic and cheaper than dibond but provides less stability for the acrylic.  This may lead to some bowing of large acrylic pieces over time.  Dibond, on the other hand, is more rigid, providing much greater rigidity of your print, but is more expensive.  Dibond is basically a polyethylene core sandwiched by two pieces of thin aluminum and it’s the material we prefer for stabilizing your print.  For smaller pieces, sintra is probably OK, but if you’re ordering larger pieces be sure that dibond is used.  Another sheet of acrylic is another backing option and provides a really nice high-end look.  We’ve done these types of jobs before, but similar to sintra, it should really only be used on small to medium-sized acrylic prints.  For prints above about 40″ or so, a full box subframe should really be used as well to provide further rigidity for the acrylic print.

Question #5? Do you use stand-off bolts?   Using stand-off bolts to secure an acrylic print to the wall is common, but we prefer the floating off the wall look where all the hardware is completely hidden.  This is the configuration you’d typically see in a gallery setting.   While acrylic prints can be offered much cheaper using stand-off bolts since a backer material isn’t needed, we believe these are a distraction to the image.  That said, we do have customers that prefer it for various reasons (ie to match existing prints they have or for better security), so can provide this option as a custom order.  However, the vast majority of our acrylic prints are produced with hidden floating and hanging hardware.  If security is a concern for you we have a french cleat solution with locking security hardware.

[Images left to right – the first with stand-off bolts, the second is the floating look sans bolts]

Question #6  How thick should I go with the acrylic?   Many companies will offer an acrylic print in thicknesses of either 1/8”, 1/4” or both.  The 1/4″ thickness would be considered a typical gallery configuration while the 1/8″ acrylic still offers a great vibrant look at a more affordable price.  The thicker 1/4″ acrylic will have more of a 3D edge particularly if it’s polished (we offer both polished and routed and recommend polish on the 1/4″).  Far less common is 1/2″ acrylic, but you’ll find it as an option here at Bumblejax up to 40×30″.   Finally, an increasingly popular option are the acrylic photo blocks which at 1″ thickness make for a great standalone art piece.  When we started offering these several years ago there were just a couple companies in the US offering them, but now you’ll see them everywhere as well.  Unique to Bumblejax, we offer these blocks in large sizes such as 18×12 and 20×15 including some great pano sizes for those iPhone shots at 16×4 and 20×6.  We also offer an elegant hanging option.

Question #7 What kind of paper and ink should I use?   An entire article could be dedicated to which paper and ink is best and there are still arguments on both sides as to which is best.  When doing your research on acrylic prints using the face mounting  technique you’ll come across C prints or inkjet prints.  C prints use more traditional chemicals and emulate a darkroom process using LED’s or lasers while inkjet uses dye or pigment based ink with inkjet printers.  Inkjet technology has rapidly improved over the past decade or so and many believe it has surpassed the quality of the C print.  We do not offer C prints and prefer pigment based inkjet prints for better color accuracy and permanence.  The C print process also can be significantly toxic.  As for papers, you’ll typically see two options popular with acrylic prints – some kind of satin/lustre paper and a metallic paper.  The metallic paper is very popular and can provide even more depth and pop to your acrylic print.

Question #8 What type of acrylic is offered?    There are many different brands of acrylic out there with varying degrees of quality.  Acrylic suitable for face mounting should typically be cast acrylic 100% free of impurities.  Our regular acrylic is a high-grade acrylic that meets our guidelines for gallery quality.  There are two other types of acrylic you’ll see out there when looking around – a 100% non-glare acrylic and an anti-reflective acrylic that diminishes it.  We have tested many varieties and everything in between over the years and aren’t a big fan of 100% non-glare acrylic since it diminishes the vibrancy.  However, we can do it custom for you.  A best of both world’s alternative is the TruLife acrylic which by our estimates reduces glare around 25% while providing additional benefits such as more UV protection, better scratch resistance and anti-static properties to minimize dust.  While we do offer it as an option in our online ordering page and it’s a nice option for some of our customers, it does add considerably to cost and is only available in the 1/8″ thickness.

Question #9 Is the company well reviewed?    Many shoppers check the reviews of a company before making the decision to purchase from them and that’s a good idea!  Just be sure the reviews are listed on a 3rd party site such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, Trustpilot, Ekomi, etc.  A good tip when shopping for anything online – don’t trust reviews on the company website since they can be filtered or fake.  This can happen on 3rd party sites as well, but much less likely.  We’ve been completely transparent for many years and every customer that has purchased with us gets a link to review us good or bad.  You can see our 2000+ reviews in various places online here.

We hope this guide has helped you to navigate the complexity of acrylic prints and allows you to make a more informed decision about quality and price.  The old cliche of you get what you pay for certainly applies to the printing industry.  If you have any questions at all about this article or the acrylic prints process feel free to reach out to us via email, live chat or phone.

Resources:

Acrylic Prints Product Page
Detailed Look At All Our Acrylic Prints Options
Order Acrylic Prints Online