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All About Ink – The Advantages of Pigment-based Inks

//All About Ink – The Advantages of Pigment-based Inks

All About Ink – The Advantages of Pigment-based Inks

When printing your image, we know your first and most burning question: “Will the picture of my Uncle Joe in his treasured bell bottoms last long enough for my grandkids’ kids to laugh at?” And while we can’t guarantee your great-grandchildren will laugh instead of cry, we can guarantee that the inks we use at Image & Frame will last at least 95 years printed on archival paper and cared for properly.

As paper technology advances further and further, so must ink technology in order to be of any real use. When giclee prints first started being produced in 1991, printmakers were primarily using dye-based inks, which have a high color vibrancy but are water-soluble – not the best choice to use when you wish to preserve your image. According to Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR), the leading researcher in the stability and preservation of digital images, ”

[b]y 2006, most professional and fine art photographic prints were being made with pigment inks.”1 Although a case can be made for the use of both dye-based and pigment-based inks in the appropriate situations, we only use pigment-based Canon LUCIA EX inks at Image & Frame because of their superior longevity and color fastness.

In 2010, Canon’s 12-color LUCIA EX inkset received a permanence rating of at least 95 years for color prints and 200 years for black-and-white prints by WIR, depending on the substrate. This significant longevity is possible because pigment-based inks, which are made from finely ground powders suspended in liquid, are not water soluble, dry quicker, and bind with the paper fiber to make them more resistant to fading and UV damage. And as we have 12 colors to work with rather than 6 or 8, you will have a wider and more accurate range of color and blacks and whites in your final print. Another advantage that pigment-based inks have is a greater scratch resistance and color stability than their predecessors, making them ideal for archival printing and preservation.

One last note: It is important to choose a high-quality paper that is equal to your ink. Choosing the wrong paper can make your print look dull and uninspired depending on your image, and the truth is, your image may not last much longer than a decade or two. That’s why we only use archival-grade papers, canvases, and inks together, creating the best combination for your fine art print. All of these features work together to provide you the best quality and protection available for your artwork so that Uncle Joe can cheer (or horrify) your progeny for ages to come.

  1. Henry Wilhelm, “Contemporary analog and digital color photographic prints: Dye and pigment process descriptors, naming conventions, dating and permanence characteristics.” Abstract for the 42nd Annual AIC Conference, May 28-31, 2014. []