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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Digital Printing on AcetateApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-04-11 04:16:42 ... Most recent comment 2018-05-26 06:46:23
    Photo-Documentation / Digital Printing Industrial and Non-Traditional Products

    ​I am looking to print on acetate/transparencies - are these compatible to overlay over lithographs to make fine art collages/assemblages?  I am unsure whether commerical transparencies are archival/acid free.  Grafix are the only company which appear to state their acetates are acid-free/printer friendly for fine art use but I am limited by their sizes.  I am using an inkjet printer.  Are these methods archival once framed behind UV glass? (Based in UK) Are there other alternatives for using transparent overlays which can be digitally printed on?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​There was a similar query posted not too long ago about the durability of "acetate" films on the market, and Grafix was specifically mentioned. We would not advise using most acetate-based products for many of the reasons stated in that thread:
    Certainly polyester films would be a better option here whether you plan to make a collage or to the framing question it is of course always better to place any artwork that contains paper-based supports and/or sensitive media such as inks behind UV-protective glazing.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-04-11 12:23:59
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you for your prompt reply.  The original Grafix query came from myself but I had not seen the answer.  Could you recommend any fixative that could be used to attach a Mylar sheet to a Lithograph?  The moderator who answered my original query advised against using any adhesive.  There are some UK conservation companies which advertise an archival double sided adhesive & I had hoped to use this - unless there is another alternative?

    Many thanks

    2018-04-11 13:18:22
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    I would advise against bonding mylar to a litho, since it can not be called “reversible” in any sense of the word, but if it has to be done, I would experiment with Lascaux, 360 or 498, applied to the mylar, dried for two weeks and washed to ensure surfactant removal and then run the mylar and print through a pressure roller, or cold vacuum press. When Gemini G.E.L. added mylar to the back of Lichtenstein’s wall paper print, they used Solmatol, an industrial adhesive, which had not been vetted for preservation, but it was on the verso, where it would not see the light, so it mattered less. Putting the mylar on the front brings up interactions between adhesive and image and discoloration of the adhesive, which adds up to please don’t try this.
    Hugh Phibbs

    2018-04-11 22:15:28
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​I had hoped to afix only the top edge of the Mylar to the lithograph using a conservation type tape so that it would be held in place during framing (I was not intending to affix the entire surface of the Mylar to the print).  The taped edge would then be hidden by a mount before framing behind glass - in the same way prints are normally held in place behind a frame.

    I have been advised by one plastics firm that printable Mylar sheets are not archival because of the coating (receptor) on one side.  If this is the case, is it safe to apply the Mylar sheet with the coated, printable side on the outside so that the untreated side only is in contact with the lithograph, thereby preventing possible complications?

    Thank you for your responses.  

    2018-04-13 10:02:46
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​​Apologies for the delay....we have a few feelers out to try and address your question but if the manufacturer is actually ADMITTING that something is not archival well then I would most definitely believe them. And this leads me to believe that the coated side being in direct contact with the litho might be the least of your problems. I would actually worry more about WHY this coating is non-archival...does it turn yellow fairly readily? Will the inks readily fade after being printed onto the surface (I realize that the durability of inks is probably another question entirely)? Will the coating off-gass over time? These are all questions that I would worry about...

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-04-17 21:57:24
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Many thanks - disappointing confirmation but important to know.  Do you have suggestions re any other computer printable transparent materials which I can safely overlay over lithographs/watercolours.  If not, I will put this method to bed!  

    2018-04-19 11:20:43
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    There's plenty of other companies which sell Polyester inkjet-printable films, I would suggest you look into these: (this item is specifically used by architects and drafters, and is polyester-based!)

    Printable Mylar:

    Alex Nichols

    2018-04-19 14:57:25
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Are there any variations in archival quality between solvent based inks on polyester printable sheets, as opposed to pigment or water based inks?  One company I spoke to which supplies polyester printable films in the UK suggested solvent based inks were more durable, even if framed behind UV glass.  Another printer I spoke to disagreed.  Can you give any further advice? - I have managed to locate companies supplying polyester inkjet printable films, so thank you for this advice (I was searching under Mylar/Melinex and gettiing nowhere).  The issue now is the inks!

    2018-04-23 09:24:22
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​This is possibly where you have reached the "limitations" of some of our MITRA Board experts....but I will be happy to reach out to others in the field who are specifically knowledgable about this topic. The archivability of dye/ink-jet prints is a huge topic that has of course received increased attention from the conservation community over the past decade so the information is now quite vast and overwhelming. IN GENERAL pigment-based inks are considered to be more permanent than dye-based inks. but obviously the diluent (water vs. solvent) might play a role in addition to the substrate (uncoated paper, coated paper, metal, polyester, etc.). The NEDCC has a fairly decent outline of some of these issues here but I am not certain you find the answer to your question. Again I will see if I can reach out to some of my colleagues who know more than I.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-04-23 17:19:19
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Sorry for have taken a bit long to respond but these questions are rather complicated...1) Question regrading the inks: To be honest, I don’t have an answer for this because I do not believe the solvent-based inkjet systems have been well studied when used as an art material. The big advantage of solvent inkjet is that it is resistant to water if printed on the correct substrate, which makes it ideal for outdoor signage (its intended purpose). The colorants should also be somewhat durable as they are often exposed directly to sunlight and pollutants outdoors. On the other hand, how people define durable is variable. Often outdoor signs are meant for shorter periods (6 months- 3 years), while museums probably want things that last longer than that (which they would get by exhibiting at a much lower light level). UV glass would help both with UV and expose to the air.2) Question regarding printable substrates: This question is difficult because parts makes no sense and parts are just incorrect. There is no such things as “polyester (acetate) films”. Polyester and acetate are two very distinct materials with one being made from petroleum and the other from plants. Acetate can’t be acid free because it contains acetic acid (which is why it is called acetate film). Also, I don’t think there is mixed data in the archival properties of acetate. It’s not stable over time. The only way to make it last is to store it in cold or frozen conditions. Whether a protective spray can help the lithograph is dependent on the surface quality of the paper and the bond between the ink and the paper surface. Not all lithographs will behave the same way.

    Hopefully this is somewhat helpful.
    Daniel M. Burge
    Senior Research Scientist/IPI

    2018-04-25 11:43:35
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​I agree with Dan Burge's comments. The thing about inkjet is that it is still a relatively new technology (compared to many other image-making processes), and materials are still developing (albeit at a slower rate than, say, 20 years ago). The other factor that sets inkjet apart from many traditional processes is that the choices for mixing materials (principally inks and substrates) are huge. This has the advantage that artists can be very experimental, but the disadvantage is that you will get many recommendations to do one thing or another, and it will be difficult to make choices. In addition, we still don't really know how a lot of this will play out in the future. 

    Given these fundamental thoughts, I would suggest going with what seems as stable as possible, and what follows common sense: an uncoated polyester film should be pretty stable - we know this from experience. It does have the disadvantage of holding static charges, though. Polycarbonate might be another option. As for inks, it appears that solvent-based or UV-curing inks that contain only pigments (beware of admixtures of dyes, which might be more light-sensitive) might be the best way to print on PET and PC. As Dan pointed out, these inks are often used for outdoor signage. You're probably not going to get the same resolution as you would with water-based inks on coated papers, and you will get a surface relief from the ink, but if you can live with this, I would go ahead and try it. If you choose solvent-based inks, let them air for a while before framing. This may not be the issue with UV-curing inks though.

    In the end, it will remain experimental, but if you can live with that, I would go ahead and experiment!

    Kind regards,

    Martin Jürgens

    Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

    2018-05-26 06:46:23

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