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Sublimation & Sunshine: How long will my sublimated signage last in UV light?

Sublimation & Sunshine: How long will my sublimated signage last in UV light?
Sublimation products and sunshine have a unique relationship. Some might even say its "radiating". Although one of the benefits of sublimation is its overall versatility and longevity, sublimated products will fade over time when exposed to the sun.

Common questions arise when placing sublimated panels, signage, and stakes outside, including: "how will the sun affect the quality of my product?", "will the garden stake I produced still have the vibrancy after months outside?", and "what do I do when a client of mine is saying that a large metal panel I produced is starting to fade?"

Let's discuss UV light and how it affects your sublimated product.

The Problem

UV light will fade your sublimation products over time. The problem is that UV light reverses the sublimation process. This process cannot be completely stopped unless your product is kept out of the sun's rays; however, this is nearly impossible for outside products. To make matters worse, you may be doing something to increase the efficiency of this destructive process. Let's look at some scenarios that actually speed up this process.

Poor Quality Sublimation Inks

If you use cheaper or lower quality inks, you will notice a recognizable difference in the quality of your product and fading will occur much faster. A high-quality sublimation ink (e.g., Sawgrass and Epson) will improve image quality and increase the UV light resistance of your product.

The Quality of Your Product's Coating

The majority of sublimation-coated products provide little to no UV protection. Some of our customers have mentioned applying a UV resistance spray coating to their products. While this is a proactive and good idea, it is not a long-term solution. You'll need a UV-resistant coating, which has been difficult to come by, until now.

The Solution

As we've seen, sublimation dyes and Ultraviolet light do not mingle; UV light will "reverse" sublimate your panel, allowing it to fade over time. If the inks used are "cheap," this reversal process can happen relatively quickly. If we already switched our inks for quality ones, what else can we do to prolong the life our our products?

UV Resistant Coating

UV Resistant Coating. Universal Woods has been developing and testing a coating that adds a higher level of UV resistance to their line of metal coated panels. These panels, officially known as ChromaLuxe EXT , have an outdoor rating. In their testing, they discovered that panels imprinted with photographs last two years in direct UV light, and graphics last three years.

The life of your product is directly linked to the quality of your inks. Universal Woods used Epson and Sawgrass inks for their testing and found them to have the best longevity for direct sunlight. Important to note is the testing method used by UW; their testing was done in Florida and panels they tested were facing south in direct sunlight for the entire testing period. What this means is that placing your signage or panel strategically (non-south facing) means you can theoretically get a longer life out of the products.

The green panel, in the image above, was made using ChromaLuxe EXT coated metal and used Sawgrass inks.


If your customers want metal panels but are hesitant to purchase them due to fading, you can now assure that the product they are purchasing is of the highest quality and has been tested for durability.

Here are some tips & tricks to get the most out of your outdoor sublimation products:
- Position your panels in a non-south facing direction
- Use products coated with ChromaLuxe EXT
- Use Epson or Sawgrass inks on your product if you know it will be exposed to UV light
- Purchase your sublimation blanks and supplies from a reputable distributor. If you buy blanks online or from a craft store, you don't always know what you're getting in terms of coating. Only purchase from a registered and authorized distributor of ChromaLuxe aluminum panels and products.

For more information on the testing and sizes available click here ChromaLuxe EXT

Thanks for reading! I hope that this information has been helpful. If you know someone that would also benefit from it, then please share.

As always,

"Don't hate, sublimate"
Finch Gross

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