Do Metal Prints Fade?

 Yes. While the process may or may not be better now (I guess time will tell), it is by my observation of printing on metal surfaces for over ten years that yes, metal prints do fade. I have printed photography on metal from a number of different printers and they all have the same results. And while I can’t control the environment in which my clients’ choose to display their art, I can choose where mine are stored, hung and displayed.

It seems like colors fade quickest. Black and white images printed on metal seem to last longer as richer blacks don’t seem to fade very noticeably. Of course hanging in direct sunlight will fade all prints faster, but certainly don’t let any metal print sit outside, it will fade as you watch it. Even indirect sunlight seems to fade prints.

I’m not sure if the humidity of Hawaii has anything to do with the fading or not, but several of my metal prints have faded in storage where no light is present. And again, it doesn’t seem to be isolated to one particular printer. I’ve noticed all of them fade.

With all this being said, they still look amazing when I first get them. In fact, there is no print medium more impressive for the first year or so. But as time goes on, metal prints seem to fade much faster than archival paper prints in my experience.

New technology  has brought forth “professional” level metal printing options from some printers like Bay Photo. I’m not sure if there’s any difference, but I have printed a couple like this with nice results. However, it’s too early to tell if they’ll last, or if the “professional” metal prints will fade too.

As of this writing, I’m hesitant to print on metal at all, even if it does seem that over the last few years the images have seemed to fade less, and the talk is that the technology keeps improving. Still, this is quite sad as I was an early adopter of the technology.  So, print at your own discretion, but be forewarned: metal prints will fade!