Beware Of Cheap Acrylic Prints

Ok maybe beware is a bit strong, but the old adage holds true in print just like any other industry.  You generally get what you pay for.  We’ve heard all the horror stories from customers that have come to us over the years of missed deadlines, inferior quality and awful customer support.  If you’re looking for cheap acrylic prints, you won’t find them here, but what you will get are quite a few resources (including this post), to help navigate the waters of the printing industry (and in particular the acrylic prints industry).  Our focus at Bumblejax isn’t racing to the bottom of cheapest and fastest, but producing a high quality product and experience every single time.

We get it ..  face-mounted gallery quality acrylic prints aren’t cheap and may not fit into a budget so a cheaper version may be a better option.   Just know that the cheaper you go in this industry, the more due diligence you should do and hopefully this guide provides a starting point for researching the print house that will be doing the work.   If the due diligence isn’t done, you might find it far more expensive to go cheap than paying a bit more on the first go.

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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