How We Sublimate Woodgrain Panels: Photo Story

Posted Dec 15th, 2017

How We Sublimate Woodgrain Panels: Photo Story

Everyone knows we sublimate woodgrain finishes to metal, but not everyone knows how we do it. Take a behind the scenes look at our process, and see how we create these super durable, authentic finishes on metals like aluminum and steel.

The Process

Once we receive the parts, they are sorted, inspected, and hung on our production powder coating line where they are washed, pre-treated and then receive a proprietary polyurethane coating. 


Below are powder coated aluminum panels, ready for the next step in the process - sublimation.

Painted panels ready for woodgrain

Here we have the Decora team taping the proprietary poly film to the metal panels. These films contain UV stable inks and come in a variety of patterns and grains. From marbles to patinas, and of course wood, there is likely a finish that will help accentuate the beauty of any project. 

Taping the woodgrain film to the metal panels

Pile of woodgrain panels ready for the oven

Taped panels ready for the oven

The wrapped panels are then placed on an aluminum table and covered by a Kevlar blanket. Using a vacuum, all of the air is removed from between the Kevlar and the panels, allowing for the film to be pulled tightly against the face of the part. The table is then rolled into the oven allowing for the sublimation process to take place. Once the temperature in the oven reaches 400F, the inks printed on the film turn to a gas state, and the powder coated substrate becomes porous. The air tight film in combination with the porous coating allows for a transfer to take place, in which the inks enter the powder coated finish. The base coat colour in conjunction with the transferred ink creates a beautiful, super durable finish comparable to no other.

Here we see that the panels are taken out of the oven and inspected for any defects.

Inspecting the panel after it's been sublimated

The poly film is removed, revealing the transfer.

Pulling off the woodgrain film from the panel after the transfer

This is how the panels look after being sublimated. They are hot, and need time to cool. 

Wood panels cooling

Once the panels are cooled, the film is removed from the parts, and they are ready to be packaged and shipped back to the customer.

Panels ready to be packaged.

Packaging and taping up the sublimated wood panels

Decora team packaging our woodgrain panels

After packaging and shipment, the project is complete! 

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