Everyone seems to be looking for a metal or chrome looking graphic part these days. While metal looks high end and very attractive, it usually comes at a cost. Many people are looking for lower cost alternatives, while still achieving a metal looking part. There are some good alternatives on the market that can be produced via printing methods.
Below is a photo of a printed metalized ink on a brushed clear material. Next to it is a brushed piece of aluminum. Can you tell the difference? Well, if you can’t, the top piece (1) is the printed plastic part. At GM Nameplate, we have created many different looks with printed metalized inks. You can create a brushed look by using a brushed clear polycarbonate or polyester material.
You can create a chrome (mirror) looking part with a high gloss material and/or you can combine the two to make a unique looking graphic piece (see photo with chrome ink and printed brushed look.)
Other options that are becoming very popular are to create dead front metalized looking parts. What is a dead front you ask? A dead front is when you have icon’s or graphics that you want someone to see when they are back lit, however, you don’t want them to see the icon’s the back lighting is off. Your dash board on your car has dead front graphics on the dash display. You usually don’t see the “Check Engine” light until it is back lit. You have many dead front features on the display on the dash board of your car. Metalized inks can be used for dead front looks when printed correctly and using either LED or Fiber Optic lighting.
Some advantages of using metalized plastic parts are:
- Cost is cheaper than metal.
- You can create a dead front or back lighting with plastic, you can’t with metal.
- You can create graphics and logos within the printed plastic metalized sheet.
- Plastic is much more flexible than metal.
- Tooling costs to fabricate the part is usually much less expensive.
- Oh did I say it was cheaper than metal?
When considering metal on your next project, you might want to consider metalized printed plastic. It isn’t a fit for all applications and products, but it could be a great alternative!