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Using a UV spray to make an inkjet print archival

T T , Feb 25, 2003; 12:50 a.m.

I remember reading somehere that someone with an Epson 1280 was making their prints more 'archival' by using a clear UV spray by Lyson over the print. Is this effective?

Responses

Brian C. Miller , Feb 25, 2003; 09:42 a.m.

Beau Hooker , Feb 25, 2003; 09:56 a.m.

From "Mastering Digital Printing" by Harald Johnson (highly recommended!)

"The decision of whether to coat a digital print is completely dependent on how the print is made. There are lots of war stories of printmakers who have had IRIS prints ruined merely from the moisture or spit coming from their mouths while talking near them!

"When is coating needed? The main print enemies that coatings protect against are these: moisture, UV light damage, atmospheric contaminants, biochemcal activity (molds and such), and abrasion or marring. If you can avoid these problems, and you're using long-lasting inks, especially pigment inks, that are well-matched to the medium or paper, you probably don't need to coat your (paper) prints. This is especially true if they're destined to end up under glass in a frame. If however you're 1) Printing on canvas that won't be framed under glass 2) using certain pigment inks that tend to smear or smudge on glossy media, or 3) using dyes that could end up in a vulnerable storage & display environment, think about coating your prints.

"Ideally you want an inert, odorless, colorless, nonyellowing, antifungal coating that's easy to apply. In addition, you want to know that the coating is not going to shorten the life of the print. This is an unresearched area at present.

"Coating brands that have developed followings with digital printers include the following: Clearstar ClearShield and ClearJet (clearstarcorp.com) Superfrog Frog Juice (superfrog.com) Lyson Print Guard (Lyson.com), Bulldog Ultra Coating (bulldogproducts.com) Liquitex Solivar varnish, Krylon Crystal Clear, UV-CLear acrylic sprays, and Sureguard (perfectiondistruibuting.com), and Lacquer-Mat (Lacquer-mat.com) photo lacquers.

Also according to Mr. Johnson, using the Epson Sytlus Photo 1280 with Epson ColorLife Photo Paper gives the best longevity without any coating: 26 years. You should get 25 years from Epson Matte Paper-Heavyweight; 9 years with Epson Premium GLossy Photo Paper and just 6 years with Epson Photo Paper.

Hope this helps! . . . Beau

Scott Eaton , Feb 25, 2003; 01:09 p.m.

I hit all my Epson prints with a UV protective spray. The coating simply protects the print from other elements besides UV.

The problem with sprays is the tend to 'blotch' up dark areas on matte based papers. I'm currently working on a way to coat my prints with a brush or cylinder straigh from a can of sealer.

Neil Whitaker , Feb 26, 2003; 03:00 a.m.

Two options that are better than a spray

If you're really going for archival, then you ought to get some 3rd-party archival inks. InkJetMall is one of several dealers that carry them. Alternatively, if you can afford it, a superb option is to purchase the US$700 Epson 2200 photo printer, whose OEM inks look amazing and are predicted to last around 75 years. And naturally, be sure your paper is of archival quality.

Sanaka Thompson , Jul 30, 2003; 04:40 p.m.

As a veteran woodworker, and beginning archival printmaker, I've thought a bit about dewaxed shellac as a print coating. I haven't tried it yet, but plan to. The centuries old, still beautiful French Polish, a shellac finish, on antique furniture in museums around the world is compelling testimony of its archivalness.

The two possible downside issues I can think of with shellac are: 1)It's not perfectly clear, "water white." The high grade, dewaxed "Platinum" shellac is, however, so slightly colored that I think it would be just fine. For all I know, the various photo specific canned lacquers are just as colored. Traditional varnishes for coating oil paintings certainly are. 2) The alcohol solvent could dissolve the injet ink! The photo specific lacquers also must use a strong solvent, but presumably these would be certain classes of alcohols or ketones that are safer with inkjet inks. I'm not sure if your typical shellac solvent (ethanol/methanol/isopropyl/MIBK) would be safe, but I would suspect so, as these are WAY mild solvents compared to what's in my can of Sureguard, for instance (Toluene, MEK, Diacetone alcohol, etc.).

The upsides of shellac are: Cheaper than photo specific lacquers. Depending on your available equipment, way cheaper. I have high quality spray equipment for finishing furniture, so I can use shellac that costs me about $25 a gallon (either scratch from dry flakes or using Zinsser dewaxed SealCoat). Also I have much better atomization control this way than with a spray can. Shellac is a lot less toxic to be around and use than lacquer. It's tenaciously adhesive and compatible with virtually all other finishes - It won't ever flake or fall off your print, and can be over coated with other finishes if desired.

No matter what coating with whatever equipment, or can, one is using, I would think that a cautious spray technique is in order. Namely, the first coats should be "dusted" on. This means that the finish is sprayed very lightly so is near dry by the time it hits paper, to minimize the amount of solvent that could potentially dissolve ink. Once full coverage is achieved this way, wetter coats that flow out ("flow," not "run!") can be safely applied.

Granted, this shellac thing is mostly valid only for those with equipment and fimiliarity with spray equipment, but what the heck. A furniture maker's $.02 :-)

Peace Sanaka

Shawn Kearney , Jul 30, 2003; 08:08 p.m.

while UV is a big contender in the fugitive aspect of most inksets, don't forget that "gas fading" is another factor. I'd imagine that heat and other atmospheric factors may play a roll too.

Smog even in older inks oxygen can fade a print, though there are papers that help with this.

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