View Full Version : Defects in acrylic face-mounting with Fujiflex Crystal Archive backed with Dibond

6-Jan-2016, 01:47
I have been acrylic face mounting for years and am aware of the additional difficulties when using Fujiflex Crystal Archive.
However, I have come across one problem that I cannot find the solution for. The problem occurs AFTER (!) I have successfully face-mounted the Fujiflex Crystal Archive print to a 4.5mm clear acrylic panel:

When I apply a 3mm Dibond panel as a backing, after an hour or so, the front side of the acrylic shows some light and small but disturbing silvery patches on the image. I have tried many ways to stick the Dibond to the back, but being two rigid substrates, this might be the cause of the problem resulting in uneven pressure (or tiny air bubbles trapped in between). It almost looks like the clear adhesive film (Optimount) used to mount the print to the acrylic wants to come of on these tiny spots. (These spots tend to occur more frequently near the edges of the acrylic). I have also tried to mount one thin extra layer in between the back of the print and the Dibond with the intention to "absorb" eventual imperfections or variations in pressure before the Flex-print/Optimount might struggle with them.

1) Has anyone had experience with this type of problem?
2) Is there a proper and safe way to mount two rigid substrates (Acrylic & Dibond)
3) Could it be that the Dibond needs to be prepared in a certain way to avoid this problem to occur?

Any suggestions much appreciated.

Drew Wiley
6-Jan-2016, 09:35
Acrylic isn't dimensionally stable, and changes with both humidity and temperature differential. And acrylic adhesive foil have a distinct set time where the temperature must be held relatively even until the pressure-sensitive adhesive fully sets. But beyond this, you'd have to supply some more information. How
big are these prints (affects overall exp/contraction stresses), how fresh is the adhesive, what kind of climate control do you have in the framing room? Etc

6-Jan-2016, 15:25
The prints vary in size, all are panoramic (3:1). Small ones are 40inch long, large ones are 80inch long. I have no specific climate control in the room just yet. Room temperature is usually around 20 Celsius.
I do let the pressure sensitive adhesive set at least for a couple of days. I have tried less but I have also tried up to 10 days set time. The results in this particular case are the same and the described small silvering spots appear AFTER (!) having attached the Dibond backing.
Again, this problem ONLY occurs with the Fujiflex paper which is a polyester based film rather than a paper. With Metallic papers such as the Kodak Endura Professional, these issues do not occur.
Trying to pinpoint the problem, I must alter the way or change the materials of attaching the Dibond and hanging frame on the back. I am considering trying an aluminium sheet (1.5mm) rather than Dibond to add flatness as this might be the source of the issue....Not sure.

Drew Wiley
6-Jan-2016, 16:56
Are you using a version of Dibond other than aluminum faced?? Fujiflex is polyester anyway, so should effectively isolate the back of the print from any hypothetical contamination on the backside. I've never had problems with Fujiflex, but my experience so far has only been with MacTac and Seal adhesive foils.
I'm hoping Bob Carnie will chime in on this. My own method of face-mounting was proprietary and rather involved. A very smooth inert all-plastic alternative to Dibond is Ultraboard (not to be confused with Ultramount). .... But one thing that does ring a bell is that it is hypothetically possible that the release tissue on
one of the products you are using is silicone-treated paper (likely), and that somehow a bit of residue of this is getting onto your print. I've seen similar symptoms with defective drymounting release paper, which should never be used directly upon the face of a print anyway; but some people do it with RC color paper. OR.. if a bit of stearate dust somehow transferred. Sometimes factory sheet good lines cross-contaminate products a bit, and you need to be religious
about cleaning your backing materials prior to use, preferably in a different room first. Stearates occur in many abrasives, and such abrasives could realistically
be employed in the finishing stages of the board.

6-Jan-2016, 18:03
I am using a version of Dibond (I think it's called Aluwedo) that is one side Black and one side white (glossy). One of my next alterations to resolve the problem certainly is using a Dibond version that is mill or brushed aluminium finish rather than painted. Also, the version I currently use has an aluminium skin of 0.21mm. I am looking to test with a more heavy duty version that has a skin of 0.3mm. Not sure if this will get me closer the solution but I will give this a go.
I am also testing to use an alternative adhesive foil rather than my standard choice which is Optimount (which I think is a Neschen/Seal product), as I have noted that the Optimount adhesive appears less tacky than another generic brand that I use for smaller less valuable prints.
Anyway, thanks for the suggestion of the Ultraboard. I am more tempted to use/test backing substrates such as plain aluminium or even acrylic as a backing. I doubt that my issue is related to contamination as I clean my backing materials thoroughly before application, but I will have to keep an eye on this. I feel more that it must have to do with pressure related imbalances due to imperfections on the surface of the Dibond or small air pockets trapped in between the two 'rigid' substrates.
Thanks for your input!:)

bob carnie
7-Jan-2016, 07:34
I have done face to plexi mounts since 1980 and I hear your pain, in fact I have quit doing them as of 2014 as I find them too commercial , but more importantly almost impossible to do at an extrememly high level.
Basically you are putting a plastic gloss on a plastic and wanting perfection.

Peter Lik - who is vilified here pretty much does the best face mounts available.. He has built a special facility to do this. If you can investigating how he
does it may be helpful to you.

If you like please call Luigi at Drytac in Mississauga Ontario, IMHO he is one of the world leading technicians selling and problem solving the issues you are experiencing.

In all due respect to other members here, I think there are only a few people that can consistently do this correctly and I would encourage you to talk to Luigi, you can use my name..
This is not a casual home project type of mount and you do need the right conditions to make it work.

The adhesive you use, the humidity control , the cleanliness of room, the pressure of rollers , are all paramount to success. This is an area that is extremely difficult to master and I would not be of any help to you other than pointing you to Luigi. - He did help Peter Lik set up his facility and has helped all the major labs in North America that do this well.

Today I would not try to do this work, as I have not the heart or willingness to give it a go.

But when done properly its quite beautiful, I make the flex prints but I send my face mount work out to two different places in town I trust.

bob carnie
7-Jan-2016, 07:39
BTW I am not dissing this product or type of mount.

In the mid 90's I was lucky enough to print 36 double sided Cibachromes which were all face mouned then sandwiched to a diabond type of material that allowed viewers to walk around as they were hung from the ceiling in one of the rooms in the Smithsonian.

this was one of the most complicated print mount jobs I every took on and it was really really $$$ and I had a lot of material wastage.

Drew Wiley
7-Jan-2016, 09:30
There were folks around here that routinely did it with Ciba. I turned down their gear recently. I don't want to run a huge lab. Forty-inch print material is plenty
big for anything I intend to do, esp in a glossy medium. My own system solved most of these difficulties, without that "glitzy" look that you already know I hate,
so no need to elaborate on that. But it was so expensive and time-consuming that going forward I've resolved to offer a more of a classic look (smooth substrate of course) simply glazed over the overmat with optically-coated acrylic, for those willing to pay for a premium presentation. Acrylic does its thing, and actually isn't very flat unless it's baked out in advance then specially selected for thickness consistency for coating. This is true even of float glass. Only about 2% is actually flat enough for consistent coating. I had a huge hermetic dessication chamber, RH controlled, blah, blah. That got ripped out last year, so no path backwards. I rather spend the time milling my own mouldings.

7-Jan-2016, 14:58
Wow. It's good to know an Internet's forum channel like this brings people with specialist interests like ours closer.
I am glad you understand the difficulties to get this right most or all of the times. Contrary to you and North America, Australia hasn't many labs (yet) that do this at a very high level and I (hopefully for much longer) still have 'the heart or willingness to give it a go'.
I have worked for Peter Lik in Queensland Australia for a couple of years over a decade ago, doing large block mounts and all sorts of high quality picture framing but no acrylic face-mounting. I never met Peter as he was in fact (so I believe) most of the time setting up galleries and/or workshop facilities in America during that time. Unfortunately, I struggle to get hold of him and don't know to what extend he is willing to share his mounting secrets. I am very thankful for your contact suggestion of Luigi who I will certainly give a ring one day soon. My current issue could be simply to change to a different adhesive that is more 'forgiving' in terms of pressure imbalances. In the meantime I keep experimenting with what I have on hand...
In regards to cleanliness and climate control, I think I am on the right track but there is always room to improve mainly by investing more money in sophisticated machinery, clothing etc.

bob carnie
7-Jan-2016, 15:25
I did not see you were from Down Under- but I certainly would give Luigi a call, and Peter Lik has indeed mastered this type of mount and if he is a decent dude should be willing to help you.

pop some shrimps on the barbie for me...... sorry always wanted to say this.


7-Jan-2016, 15:36
Haha, will think of you when having my next BBQ!:)
Although living and working Down Under for a couple of decades, the eye for detail and obsession for quality needed for doing my job is probably more rooted in my Swiss and German background.
But that's another story...

Drew Wiley
8-Jan-2016, 16:25
Oddly, I haven't seen our local expert yet this month. Hope he hasn't suffered another heart attack. He scaled down his three labs into one (still very large) to things more manageable, and now concentrates more on personal studio work , but still generates incredible income. He'll work himself to death, but it's what
drives him. His print mounting gear alone was worth hundreds of thousands.

8-Jan-2016, 19:48
Kind of related to this thread and to expensive machinery as you mention, do you recommend some sort or air purifier that can keep the humidity low and creates no (or not much) airflow in the room? I have only just started doing this type of work as my own business a year ago and am constantly looking to improve my setup. On the list to add is certainly some sort of climate control/air purifier device. I would only need one small unit for one small room. Ideally the unit shouldn't need too much maintenance and of course cost is another criteria...I thought I'd ask as I believe you'd know. Cheers.

bob carnie
9-Jan-2016, 07:47
You do not want low humidity , by raising the humidity airborne dust will drop to the floor more than low humidity, and yes a clean room - right down to hair nets - gloves floor sticky matts - air system that is not linked to rest of building, the Lik setup has all this and more, basically a room within a room within a room... sounds creepy but the big issue is dust control . The best adhesive for face mounting is at least 3x more than regular adhesive.

Kind of related to this thread and to expensive machinery as you mention, do you recommend some sort or air purifier that can keep the humidity low and creates no (or not much) airflow in the room? I have only just started doing this type of work as my own business a year ago and am constantly looking to improve my setup. On the list to add is certainly some sort of climate control/air purifier device. I would only need one small unit for one small room. Ideally the unit shouldn't need too much maintenance and of course cost is another criteria...I thought I'd ask as I believe you'd know. Cheers.

Drew Wiley
11-Jan-2016, 17:13
I personally swabbed down all the enameled walls in advance, wore a true cleanroom suit, had an industrial electronic air filter, triple-filtered air lines, the whole nine yards. Working with big Cibas demanded that. You can be a bit more casual with RC prints or fiber-based work, but not with any electrostatic medium or
utterly unforgiving hi-tack pressure adhesive. You know the term "fish"? It's what picture framers call a little annoying speck of something caught behind the
glazing, like a fish in an aquarium. You don't want any of those. With face-mounting, you'll never get them out. Job ruined.

8-Feb-2016, 11:46
Is it possible the problem is with the Optimount? I found an unreasonable amount of dirt in the last roll of OC adhesive I got from them, to the point where I had to scrap the roll as unusable. Everyone seems to have problems with debris and defects occasionally - from the print material manufactures to the plastics to the adhesives, but I was surprised to see that a problem I thought came from other sources was almost certainly from the last few rolls of Seal Optimount Ultra. Which is too bad since its a great product in every other way - superior to Drytac and Mactac in terms of adhesion.

Drew Wiley
8-Feb-2016, 12:29
DIRT??? Any contamination whatsoever would render something like this useless, or at least that portion of the roll.

8-Feb-2016, 15:36
True dat. But where there is visible dirt there is also likely smaller particles, the kind that could cause the kind of effect mentioned in the OP. When I discovered dirt on the roll (in areas that still had both release liners in place) I began to wonder if problems I had attributed to imperfections in the plastics were the fault of the adhesive. Since I have got perfectly clean applications of OC adhesive using Mactac on the same plastic stock, and these are 48" x 48" sheets, I am almost certain my problems over the last half year were from the Seal Optimount Ultra.

8-Feb-2016, 19:36
Do you know if Seal Optimount Ultra is manufactured in a proper clean room? I haven't had any issues with Optimount in relation to impurities or dirt.
What's the best optically clear mount film in your opinion and why?

Drew Wiley
9-Feb-2016, 11:13
Gosh. Don't know the statistical answer to that. I did link up with our local pro, who is winding down his big lab and concentrating on studio work. He used
MacTac for a long time, but now swears by Seal. But he only buys the very best in terms of equipment, and I know his laminating machines were very expensive.

9-Feb-2016, 15:57
I haven't tried a MacTac film for face mounting yet. Been using successfully Neschen Optimount for years but am considering testing and using others that can compete with the Optimount. Any comments on Drytac's Facemount?

10-Feb-2016, 04:44
Drytac was clean, in my experience with perhaps 4 rolls, but the adhesive is not as aggressive as Optimount. This roll of Mactac Permatrans has been good, no defects, but it is somewhere between Drytac and Seal in terms of adhesion. I see problems with adhesion based on the way I cut my material, I am mounting to and cutting sheets of PETG plastic on a Fletcher cutter, which causes a very very slight deformation along the edge because of the repeated scoring and pressure. This does not cause any problems with the Optimount but has required me to "burnish" the back sides of the print along the edges on occasion with some of the others - Mactac included. It gives me concern that there may be problems with delamination over time, and I am trying to make prints with maximum longevity.