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Subject: Inkjet prints

Inkjet prints

From: Martin Juergens <post>
Date: Saturday, May 3, 2003
John Castronovo <jcc [at] nac__net> writes

>How should one care for these prints? How should they be framed and
>displayed? Have any spray coatings been shown to improve stability,
>or should they be avoided?

The question of spray fixatives is a difficult one in my opinion.
They do make water sensitive inks more waterfast, and may protect
the inks from airflow and pollution problems, but on the other hand,
you never really know what you are applying and how it will age. I
would prefer not applying a fixative, but rather the use of a well
designed frame (sealed, preferably, perhaps with some previously
dried matboard on the inside to buffer moisture fluctuations), if
the aesthetics or artist's intent allow for it. This area would
benefit from more research, but one of the problems is that the
materials change so fast that a material recently tested may not be
available a year later...

I am currently in the process of trying to put together some notes
for advising artists who are making digital prints, and this portion
of the text may help in answering your questions. The advice below
comes from scavenging diverse literature, testing, and
conservators' experience, and is only one chapter of a whole set of
guidelines hopefully to be finished in the next months. The full
set, concerning the seven major digital print techniques, should be
available at some point in the summer at the Digital Print
Identification Website
(<URL:http://aic.stanford.edu/conspec/emg/juergens/>)

Liquid Ink Jet

   *Choice of Materials*

        *   Beware of the consequences of liberally experimenting
            with inks and print media: the aesthetic result may be
            satisfactory, but the materials may not be compatible,
            leading to rapid deterioration. Use the combinations
            recommended by the manufacturer, or consult with
            knowledgeable printers, associations, newsgroups, or
            literature for combinations proven to be stable.

        *   Similarly, be wary of so-called universal papers
            designed for a variety of inks. The compatibility issues
            may be too restrictive to allow for high stability if
            the inks do not match the coatings.

    Colourant

        *   Some inks labelled "pigment based" may contain a portion
            of dyes, leading to possible colour shifts due to
            partial fading.

    Coating

        *   Avoid coatings that yellow quickly when exposed to light
            and the atmosphere.

    Substrate

        *   If using a paper substrate, choose an acid-free,
            possibly buffered base with high quality fibres and
            sizing to avoid long-term problems.

  *Presentation*

    Light stability

        *   Pigmented inks are generally more lightfast than
            dye-based inks, which can be extremely light sensitive,
            leading to colour shifts.

        *   Some poor quality papers and receptor coatings may
            yellow quickly upon exposure to light and UV.

    Frames with glazing (glass and plastic)

        *   Framing reduces pollution and air-flow related fading.

        *   Exhibit only with UV-filtered glazing or lights.

        *   Receptor coatings on papers, RC papers, and plastics may
            adhere to the glazing when moist.

        *   Allow prints to dry thoroughly for 24-48 hours before
            framing.

    Presentation without surface protection

        *   Coatings may yellow by oxidation upon exposure to
            atmosphere.

        *   Colourants may fade due to air-flow over the surface of
            coated media.

        *   Water-sensitive colourants may smudge and run on most
            liquid ink jet prints.

        *   Glossy coated media may be easily scratched, matte
            coatings scuffed.

    Lamination

        *   The penetration of the adhesive into the receptor
            coating may not be sufficient for long-term stability.
            Delamination may result.

        *   Irreversible lamination, varnishing, or the use of a
            fixative may increase the water- and UV-fastness of the
            inks and reduce air-flow fading, but long-term reactions
            with the print materials and the ageing characteristics
            of the applied substances are unknown.

    Face-mounting

        *   The penetration of the adhesive into the receptor
            coating may not be sufficient for long-term stability.
            Delamination may result.

    Mounting

        *   The use of mounting adhesives containing water may cause
            moisture to penetrate the substrate, causing the ink to
            run.

   *Housing, Storage, and Environment*

    Dark Stability

        *   Dye migration may be a problem for dye-based inks or
            pigmented inks with added dyes.

    Primary enclosures

        *   Enclosures reduce pollution and air-flow fading.

        *   Allow prints to dry thoroughly for 24-48 hours before
            placing them in an enclosure.

        *   To avoid edge yellowing of poor quality coatings, use an
            enclosure that is closed on all four sides.

    Environmental conditions

        *   RH values over 60% may lead to irreversible migration of
            water-soluble dyes and to their chemical degradation.

        *   Though I am unaware of test results too confirm this,
            liquid ink jet prints would probably benefit from cool
            storage temperatures, since chemical reactions are
            slowed down.

Martin Juergens
Photograph Conservator
Beerenweg 6-8
22761 Hamburg, Germany
+49 40 2800 4785
Fax: +49 40 2805 6511


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:69
                   Distributed: Tuesday, May 6, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-69-004
                                  ***
Received on Saturday, 3 May, 2003

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