Lyson Archival Inks and other kinds of ink for fine art giclée prints
Horror stories of fading colors have made it difficult for reputable companies even when their inks offer longevity. One review indicated that Epson prints, if put outside in the sun, fade within a day. This is something Epson ads in popular magazines do not tell you about. Printer companies claim the warranty is voided if you use other inks. Yet this claim is illegal in the United States. It is illegal, against several Federal statutes, to require that a buyer have to buy a certain product in order to maintain a warranty.
A variety of experienced companies made inks that last for decades.
Unfortunately few independent ink testing centers have developed means for testing longevity that people take seriously. For example, people who have actually produced ink for centuries (such as VanSon and other European companies) get a smile on their face when you mention the claims of ink longevity that are popular in trade magazines.
If an ink manufacturer pays someone to test their inks, this "test" is not considered independent. Second, none of these companies nor testing places have, so far, actually guaranteed their inks with a written contract (3M being the notable exception; when 3M says their inks last x-years outdoors, you get an actual guarantee).
But, why worry? How do you know the paper itself will last a hundred years? As long as the original image is safe, the picture can easily be reprinted. What is important is that the image last the lifetime of a normal viewer, say 50 to 75 years. True archival inks will become available in the meantime, after all, there are billions of dollars available for whomever develops such an ink.
In the meantime, Lyson, Ilford, VanSon, and American Ink Jet offer inks you can use for your exhibits, fine art, and giclée prints. Many of these inks will outlast a conventional color photograph.
FLAAR tested Epson inks on desktop printers about five years ago (they failed all the tests). We then tested Encad GA inks and were pleasantly surprised when the images still held their color after four years. A bit different than the day the prints rolled off the printer, but still acceptable for the museum where these prints still hang.
This January we initiated tests of Encad GO inks (which are rated to outlast GA inks). Ilford is preparing to send us a variety of inks. Whenever we receive other inks, such as Lyson, etc., we will be glad to test them as well. We tested the new UV pigmented inks for the Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 5000 and were surprised at the wide color gamut, definitely better than any previous HP pigmented inks.
If you need to find a place to buy inks for fine art giclée printing, you should select a place where the people are specialists in fine art giclée printers, media, and inks.
Last Updated Jan. 15, 2003 Previouly updatedr June 9, 2001 (EM), May.17, 2000.
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