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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
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: https://www.artcons.udel.edu/mitra/forums/question?QID=420
Certainly polyester films would be a better option here whether you plan to make a collage or not....as 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.
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.
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...
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.
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
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