Tags ‘Metal’

Apple Patents New Liquidmetal Techniques For Manufacturing

13857-8975-150811-BMG-l Liquidmetal, as you’ll recall, is a bulk metallic glass – BMG – that can be cast into shapes and then hardens into a metal. It’s popular in watchmaking and was recently taken up by Apple in their iPhone manufacturing process. Todays patent, however, addresses the process of casting multiple metals or BMGs, allowing manufacturers to surround alloys in other alloys.… Read More

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John Biggs

August 11th


How-To: Go beyond OS X Photos + make amazing wall art from your Mac’s pictures (Part 1)


Apple knew it had something special to share with the world when it released iPhoto in 2002: in addition to printing 20″ by 30″ poster-sized photos, the original iPhoto’s “most stunning feature” (according to Apple) was a page layout tool that quickly turned digital photo collections into printed hardcover books. These were Apple’s acknowledgements that tangible photos still had value in a digital era, and it subsequently added calendars, greeting cards, softcover books, and letterpress cards to iPhoto. Apple’s newer app Photos for Mac hides these options under the File menu at the top of the screen, and hasn’t expanded on them, a shame considering how nice the results look.

But apart from including the poster options in 2002, Apple never added “large-format art” to the list of things its photo apps could produce. Back in 2002, digital cameras were so low-resolution that they struggled to produce pixel-free 4″ by 6″ photos, so it’s no surprise that Apple wasn’t trying to build a market for large prints. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Canon currently sells two 50-Megapixel cameras, Sony has one 42-Megapixel camera, and Nikon offers four 36-Megapixel cameras. iPhones and iPads can create up to 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas. A large, properly-composed print from any of these cameras (or even the more common 20- to 25-Megapixel cameras people are using today) will look amazing hanging on the wall of your home or office… if you know how to do it.

I wanted to see what the best options were for large-format photography, so I reached out to a collection of excellent art print services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — materials Photos doesn’t offer. In Part 1 of this How-To guide, I’m looking at large-format metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces, with results as saturated as Apple’s famous “nanochromatic” iPod nanos. Part 2 will look at large-format canvas and glass prints. Read on for all the details…

When you research the world of metal photo printing, two names come up repeatedly. First is Image Wizards in North Carolina, which lays claim to having invented metal photo prints, as well as ubiquitous earlier ideas such as printing photos on coffee mugs and mouse pads. Image Wizards’ AluminArte is considered the gold standard for metal photo printing, and can be produced in sizes ranging from 12″ by 20″ to 48″ by 96″ ($130 to $1,030) — that’s four by eight feet, a surface large enough to make a life-sized print of a basketball player (with room on the edges to spare). You get the choice of four different finishes – white aluminum or brushed in your choice of satin or gloss – plus three different types of frames in your choice of three colors.


Image Wizards offers a lot of different customization options, but its web site is very basic. You specify your choice of sizes, finishes, frames, and shipping packaging, then provide your shipping and billing information. Next, you just upload your file to the company without any additional site-based adjustment or previewing of the image. Consequently, you’ll need to do your cropping in Photos, iPhoto or Aperture, and make sure that your image looks right before uploading it. My finished Image Wizards print was very slightly cropped on the left side relative to the original image.

The original image Image Wizards' 24" by 18" version is slightly cropped, but richly colored (glare is from the glossy finish) Frame-to-edge framing stiffens the thin aluminum print

I was pleased by the quality of the Image Wizards print, and super impressed by the company’s frame. The AluminArte process preserved all of the original image’s rich saturation, which pops nearly as much on the 24″ by 18″ frame as on the internally illuminated, comparably-sized screen of a 27″ iMac. An anti-scratch coating provides HDTV-like gloss, and is capable of resisting finger gouges; Image Wizards includes a large cleaning cloth to preserve the shine. Additionally, although I’d selected a floating frame, Image Wizards recommended a frame to edge version that considerably stiffened the edges of the thin aluminum print, providing black boxy edges and a measure of reinforcement against accidental damage. It was a great recommendation, though it added $78 to what would otherwise be a $145.65 price.


As shown above, the detail level in the AluminArte print is pretty impressive for a large piece of wall art, preserving even the individual textures of strings in the original 24-megapixel photo. There were small color differences — smaller than the comparison here suggests — which aren’t noticeable unless you hold the image directly up next to a monitor. While the AluminArte print wasn’t as large as the others I tested, and I didn’t have a 50-Megapixel Canon to push the outer limits of the company’s process, most DSLR users (and many point-and-shoot photographers) can expect similarly detailed, beautiful results even at slightly larger sizes.


Another widely recommended metal print resource is Mpix, a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging in Kansas. Mpix does a lot of different types of photo printing, including canvas gallery wraps and boxy “standout” photos. But it also offers Modern Metals, aluminum prints that range from 8″ by 10″ to 20″ by 30″ ($34-$155). The prices are aggressive, though as a trade-off, you’ll have no physical options beyond choosing the size. You can use the Mpix web site to adjust the zoom, cropping, and rotation of your image, optionally adding various facial retouching services for $8 per retouching service per person; that’s it.

The original image I manually cropped the image on Mpix's web site for the 30" x 20" print The frameless mount design isn't deluxe, but works well

Mpix’s prints arrived amazingly quickly after my order was placed, and I was thrilled with their value for the dollar. Once again, the saturation and detail on the prints were spot-on with the original images, making colorful images really pop. I was astonished that buildings in the distance were as clear in the Mpix prints as in the Canon 5D Mark III images I shot, and that I needed to magnify the originals to absurd levels to find pixel-level distinctions. The only comparative issue I ultimately noted was a slight blow out of bright spots, which in all honesty affected such tiny parts of the huge images that they were hard to spot.

The second original image The second 20"x30" print, slightly cropped Fine details remain obvious in the print, though bright spots sometimes get a little blown out

Mpix notably offers 30″ by 20″ metal prints for $155, a roughly 36″ diagonal that’s larger than the display of any current or past Mac. While that’s not as large as the biggest Image Wizards print, Mpix’s options tend to be somewhat less expensive at given sizes. Part of that price difference is because there are fewer frills here than with Image Wizards, as Mpix doesn’t include a cleaning cloth or offer multiple frame or finish options. However, the frameless mount is sturdy and works exactly as expected, providing three mounting points in a line. Moreover, just like with the Image Wizards prints, Mpix’s prints were finished with a glossy surface treatment that made them look like UHDTV screens – really beautiful.

If you’re looking to make giant, wall-worthy metal art prints from your digital photographs, Image Wizards and Mpix both have advantages worth considering. The multiple finish and framing options offered by Image Wizards are good premium touches, while its ability to produce human-sized aluminum canvases for your photos could completely wow viewers with scale alone. By contrast, Mpix’s simpler options and pricing still deliver surprisingly strong image quality, and make an impact with the option of larger-than-Mac-sized prints. You won’t be disappointed with either company’s products.

More From This Author

Check out more of my How-To guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. Don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything!

Filed under: How-To, Mac Tagged: Aluminum, Aperture, artwork, Digital photography, Image Wizards, IPhoto, Metal, Mpix, photos, prints

Continue reading more about Mac, How-To, and photos at 9to5Mac.

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Jeremy Horwitz

July 4th



Watch an oxy-gasoline liquid fuel torch cut through metal

Yowza. That burns hot. Watch as a Petrogen Multi-Fuel cutting torch nicks right through a stack of metal and cuts it clean off. The cutting system can use liquid fuels of any kind, including “gasoline of any grade, “white” gas, camping fuel, and stabilizer additive fuels” and “diesel, kerosene, biodiesel”. Basically, you pump fuel into this thing and other things start going poof.


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Casey Chan on Sploid, shared by Chris Mills to Gizmodo

June 25th


This Floating Metal Will Make Feather-Light Warships

No, that's not a sponge. It's a piece of metal that's light enough to float. Researchers at New York University, who invented the substance, say it's also strong enough to build boats with.


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Kiona Smith-Strickland

May 14th


Tesla Buys A Company In A State Where It’s Barred From Selling Cars

tesla-loan-660 Tesla Motors has acquired Michigan-based Riviera Tool, Tesla confirms. This purchase marks Tesla’s first presence in Michigan, a state where the auto maker is not allowed to sell its vehicles. Read More

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Matt Burns

May 8th


Apple Watch Sport includes a plastic magnetic charger, not metal like the more expensive models

IMG_0674 IMG_0681

As users unbox their new Apple Watch units today, customers who bought the Sport version are receiving a bit of a surprise. The inductive charging cable bundled with Apple Watch Sport is actually made of plastic rather than the nice metal finishes of the more expensive stainless steel and gold watches.

The material is very similar to other Apple accessories which have white gloss exteriors. It’s unclear why the Sport does not get the fancier cable: it may be simply for cost-saving purposes to maximize Apple’s bottom line or it may be a design choice to better match the materials of the Watch itself.

The Sport charger was actually spotted in an Apple environment video earlier this week although at the time it was unidentifiable. Apple’s public messaging did not make this distinction clear between the variants of Apple Watch, so some customers unwrapping their Apple Watch Sport purchases may be disappointed by this revelation.

Customers wanting the fancier metal charger can buy it from Apple online separately for $29 (1m) or $39 (2m), as an additional accessory.

Filed under: Apple Watch Tagged: Apple watch, Apple Watch Magnetic Charger, Apple Watch Sport, charger, Metal, plastic

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Benjamin Mayo

April 24th



Hands-On With The $149 Hisense Chromebook

hisense_149_open When Google announced that Haier and Hisense were about to launch $149 Chromebooks — the most affordable Google-powered laptops yet — I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. How much computer, after all, can you expect to get for $149? I’ve now had a chance to spend a few days with the Hisense Chromebook and the answer is: more than you probably expect. Read More

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Frederic Lardinois

April 6th



Making a real life version of Link’s shield from The Legend of Zelda

Making a real life version of Link's iconic Hylian Shield from the Legend of Zelda may be the most impressive weapon Man at Arms: Reforged has ever made. It required a perfect design, a lot of grunt work in curving the metal sheet, expert embossing and basically melting pieces of metal together to form the final shield.


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Casey Chan

March 23rd


The funniest thing you’ll see today: A death metal cover of Mary Poppins’ ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’

Mary Poppins Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Death Metal Cover

One staple of musical humor over the past several years has been to perform death metal covers of songs that are otherwise happy and upbeat. While this kind of joke has grown somewhat stale, there are times when someone comes along and does it so well that you still have to tip your cap. Such is the case with YouTube user Andy Rehfeldt, who arranged and performed a brilliant metal cover of Mary Poppins' "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" with the help of vocalists Sera Hatchett and Thomas Hinds.

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Brad Reed

February 26th


Video: Turning soda cans into liquid metal looks so fun

Video: Turning soda cans into liquid metal looks so fun

I'm not going to give my aluminum cans to recycling centers anymore. Instead, I'm going to melt them down to liquid metal and create awesome metal objects with them. All I need is a hair dryer and some charcoal to create this awesome mini metal foundry. It turns about 40 cans into a pound of aluminum.


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Casey Chan

January 1st

October 2015
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