Picture of Putting Your Photograph On Metal
There is all sorts of fun things to do down at TechShop San Jose whether it's in the wood shop, metal shop or in the textile area. However if you aren't the inventing sort, there is a way that you can combine photography, printmaking and the metal shop: Ink Jet Transfers! By placing an ink-jet transparency against a Purel-brushed surface, the ink will pull off and make a print on a surface of your choosing! You can do this to just about any surface, but if you want to use metal like I did you will need to take the MIG welding SBU. Beyond that, the only other tools I used are hand tools and the handheld plasma cutter which is a check-out service. So this is definitely a cool and interesting project that can be done without taking a class. 


A TechShop Membership (Not required but highly recommended)
Whatever is in the desired scrap bin (Or something you purchased)
Purel - 70% alcohol hand sanitizer
Apollo Inkjet Transparency Film (It cannot be multipurpose or quick-dry. And I don't know about other brands)
An inkjet printer - The higher quality the better
A Brush for the hand sanitizer
Angle Grinder
Flap Wheel
Clear coat

farabide2 years ago
Just found this and I love it! I'd love to try something like this with my kids do you think sand papered tin (as in tin can) would be as effective as angle ground steel?
sallyp3 years ago
I'm confused about the final steps.
• How long do you leave the printed piece on the metal?
• How do you remove it? Just peel it off?

Thank you!
MakerDrake (author)  sallyp2 years ago
Sorry about being a tad vague on that, I only left the printed piece on the metal for about 10 seconds or so. I didn't really keep track of time, I just spent the time making sure the image was in full contact with the purel. It's essentially instantaneous.

And yes, I just peeled it off.
Please do a video of the actual transfer part of project. Can one use just methanol , alreasy on my toxic waste shelf and purel costs more money and they are both spirit. There are many DIY picture transfer pieces on the web but yours is a bit different so it adds to the mix.

MakerDrake (author)  spark master2 years ago
I may be making more of these soon so when I do I will try to remember to record the process. It was interesting to try and record exact instructions since I wasn't being meticulous about it. I believe you can use anything with alcohol in it, that's the key ingredient. There is another transfer process which one can float the project in a bath of isopropyl alcohol which comes out with a cleaner look.
PitStoP3 years ago
This is a cool affect. I like working with sheet metal and making art sculpture with it so this gives me more ideas to try on my next projects. Have you tried using just plain printing paper? Also (I'm sure you already know this)have you tried cleaning the metal before and after grinding it? When I worked at a metal fabrication shop we cleaned all the metal we grind or sanded to remove the oil before welding and painting it! I'm thinking if there's oil in the metal it's probly why the image don't stick, maybe the reason why grinding it is working better?
Also I was thinking instead of brushing the alcohol on maybe spraying it with a fine mist using a plastic spray bottle or maybe an paint spray gun for the alcohol. If you try any of this or already done it let me know how it worked out.. Thanks for the instructable MakerDrake..
p.lefebvre3 years ago
i use the pre-coat from Canadian company Inkaid to print on " anything " www.inkAID.com
It comes out pretty good on coper and stainless steel
TimS1243 years ago
Nice artistic effect. Thanks for the writeup (and the new ideas kicking around in my head). :-)

If you chilled the metal (and possibly the Purell) before Step 4 (Placing the Image), it might slow down the evaporation rate enough to give you more working time before the alcohol evaporates too much.

The chilling might make it easier to do larger pieces (which would likely require breaking an image into multiple printed transparencies). Brushing on additional Purell to apply a print next to an existing one seems likely to mess up the first image…but if the chilling slows evaporation enough, you could do multiple images on a larger chunk of metal by brushing over a wider area before applying the images.

bg_askins3 years ago
how smooth of a finish can the metal have and the picture still transfer?
MakerDrake (author)  bg_askins3 years ago
I haven't done any significant exploration in that area. Like I said in the write-up when trying to do another transfer after a failed one, it works terribly. I believe that the success on the metal is due to the grooves created by the flap wheel. It's worth a shot with a higher grit wheel!
I wonder if you could use a pressure washer to remove the ink residue for a second trial!
wbunch13 years ago
How long do you leave the transparency film on before removing? I am guessing just a minute or two if that.
MakerDrake (author)  wbunch13 years ago
That is correct, about a minute or so. I wasn't really scientific with the process so it ranged from about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It largely depended on how much other pressure needed to be applied throughout the transparency.
That is so cool looking! I love that!