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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Photos mounted in plexiglass, what glue to use?
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12/09/2009 09:52:12 AM · #1
I would like to start mounting some of my images in plexiglass as is done in the Diasec process and I need to determine what type of adhesive is best used.

What I want to achieve is to face mount a 30" by 45" image onto 1/4" thick plexiglass and also adhere a backing, either another sheet of plexiglass or a sheet of aluminum. I need to determine the best adhesive to use that will be strong enough to withstand the weight of the finished package and the method to ensure that there are no air bubbles visible from the viewing side.

I won second place in a contest in association with the Scott Kelby Photowalk on Miami Beach this summer. The prize looks great and is pretty much what I want to reproduce. The company that mounted the winning prints is too expensive for me to expect to resell my work after having them mount it and very secretive about the adhesive that they use. I actually tried to get them to divulge it to me under the premise that I was concerned about the archival qualities of their product and the issue of fading or yellowing. It didn't work.

Surely somebody here has some experience with this process or are ingenius enough to figure it out.

12/09/2009 11:21:30 AM · #2
I always frame my prints in plexiglass/acrylic glass. Specially because it's anti-reflex and you can look it in any directions and under any light.

You don't need to glue it on the plexiglass because it will be in front of the image. The photo is glued to the back. A card type of material.
12/09/2009 12:19:06 PM · #3
Originally posted by Nuno:

I always frame my prints in plexiglass/acrylic glass. Specially because it's anti-reflex and you can look it in any directions and under any light.

You don't need to glue it on the plexiglass because it will be in front of the image. The photo is glued to the back. A card type of material.

I'm not referring to framing my pictures with plexiglass on the front. Effectively, this will be a sort of "sandwich" of:

1. front layer - plexiglass
2. middle layer - photo
3. back layer - another sheet of plexiglass or aluminum sheeting with hanging hardware and spacers so that the finished product appears to be 'floating' a couple of inches off of the wall.
12/09/2009 12:52:09 PM · #4
I would probably find some decorative hardware (nuts, bolts, etc.) and drill holes and bolt the pieces together. This way you could change the picture if you ever had a mind to. Glueing can be messy and it will show up between the laminations. If you must glue it, super glue works fairly well on plexiglas.
12/09/2009 01:17:09 PM · #5
Photonet discussion on this topic. Judging by my reading, this is a professional's job. DIY can be fun if you're prepared to make some errors. Plexi is not that cheap though.

Message edited by author 2009-12-09 13:20:59.
12/09/2009 01:54:28 PM · #6
When I originally learned of that process, I also wondered if it would be possible to duplicate it at home. It might well be, at least for smaller prints, but I can tell you that it would take a great amount of research and experimentation. Some things that need to be considered:

The adhesive needs to meet the following criteria:
1.) Non-reactive with the print material, in both uncured and cured state
2.) Low-stress; elastomeric material would be best
3.) High enough in viscosity to stay put once applied, and not de-wet the surface
4.) Low enough in viscosity to allow de-gassing (probably required in most scenarios: see process)
5.) Single-part system preferred, but two-part would work if pot life is long enough
6.) Must be able to cure in a reasonable time without exposure to oxygen (oxidation or moisture cure materials are probably not ideal)
7.) Optically clear and neutral, and non-yellowing (UV stable)

The process could follow several paths. Application of the adhesive is one critical step. The adhesive could be flood-coated, sprayed, or dispensed. Unless sprayed in a thin, uniform film, the adhesive *will* need to be de-gassed to avoid bubbles.

If I were going to do this, I would probably look at two-part silicone systems using a catalyzed cure. You *don't* want acetic acid cure materials, which is what most (all?) silicones marked to consumers are. They are acidic and will almost certainly ruin the print.

The mounting is really the trick here. I suspect that they are rolling the print on to the Plexiglas while pushing a bead of the adhesive in front of the roller. This might be doable by hand for small prints, but for large prints you'd need a dedicated set-up with some tooling. The pressures required would be larger than you could apply by hand.

An alternative *might* be to use a sprayable adhesive, and carefully roll the print on to the sprayed surface. In this case a *very* clean area would be required, with a dedicated area to spray the Plexiglas. The print would still need to be rolled onto the Plexiglas.
12/09/2009 03:57:14 PM · #7
There is a spray on contact adhesive made by Krylon that does not craze acrylics, is low odor and dries before applying the print. Available in the Craft Section at most Wal-Mart Stores.
12/09/2009 04:02:24 PM · #8
Kirbic: Thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive reply. I have done a lot of research and experimentation with two part liquid acrylic with mixed results. Initially, I was attempting to utilize a plexiglass back and pour the liquid acrylic on top of the face of the photo. With some exceptions it worked really well. I was able to get all of the bubbles out and when it cured the photo was unharmed, the acrylic was perfectly clear but it didn't settle completely flat (there were some waves).

The biggest problem was that the cost of doing a 30" by 45" would add up to be approximately $548.00 including the metallic print. OUCH!!! That's way too much overhead, not to mention the occasional error doubling the cost.

Soooo, I am back to the original plan of facing the print with plexiglass instead of liquid acrylic. I've considered most of your criteria for the liquid acrylic plan and am considering the rest for my current goal. My biggest concern (once I determine the product to use) is ensuring the bubbles are removed. I agree that some sort of rolling process involving pressure will probably be required. Maybe if I squeegee the backside of the print as I roll the front onto the plexiglass with the adhesive already in place.

Thanks again for your input. Please add anything else that you might think of.
12/09/2009 04:09:40 PM · #9
You could also refer to your local Plexiglass supplier. Not Home Depot, but a true plexi/acrylic supplier. They may have some ideas for you. When in doubt, ask a pro. Plus you can usually get free scrap plexi. Which could be used for testing. Practice makes perfect!
12/09/2009 04:16:57 PM · #10
Just had another thought. I'm curious if an adhesive mixed with photo flow, would help with the bubbles. Photo flow, (Kodak) breaks surface tension in liquid. So if it was compatible, it may help the bonding of the two surfaces.
If you're the experimental type, this could be of interest. You just never know...

12/09/2009 06:12:14 PM · #11
Originally posted by yakatme:

Kirbic: Thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive reply...

You are most welcome!
I'm pretty familiar with silicones, and it does seem like the original, patented process does use a silicone. The acrylics should work too, but they are *hard* and might result in problems if the print is exposed to temperature extremes. I'd also be a little afraid of residual acrylic acid, depending on the cure mechanisim. Some acrylic adhesives are merely acrylic polymer dissolved in a solvent, and these should be safe (they are used in electronics where (residual acids are avoided at all cost) however the solvents may (or may not) be problematic for the print.
I do think that a silicone is the best bet. I'm curious as to what the cost breakdown of the $548 is. How much of that is due to adhesive, print, plex...
12/09/2009 06:21:48 PM · #12
There is a guy here in New Zealand. That does this, I have his card somewhere here. He has invented his own process of doing it. I have seen his work both here in NZ and also on display in Sydney. The results are stunning. I am going to look for his card right now if I can find it I will direct you to his website.
03/21/2010 10:36:05 PM · #13
Try a company called Acrylic Image. These guys print directly to the reverse of acrylic panels. I had a 51 x 34" panel printed, the quality is very good and although I love diasec and do use it, this method is also good and more reasonably priced.
04/12/2010 06:53:47 PM · #14
I know this post is a bit dated, but here\'s my 2 cents. The adhesive is made by Seal and is called Optimount. We do these prints all the time. It is a pretty tricky process to get perfect. Dust particles and air bubbles are your worst enemy and if not done professionally, these imperfections will most likely show up in the final piece. You can check us out Bumblejax.com for more information
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