Proof of Concept and Some Observations About Third Party Ink Sets

New members have subscribed, Paypal works, more green and blue links are being added, and the first samples made by one of the new members were received this week. The samples look great! I wish to give a special note of thanks to this member, and to those who are joining the program at this critical early stage of development. Aardenburg’s research model for light fade testing is working, and the idea that participants would be willing to join a subscription-funded research program and then freely contribute high quality samples for standardized testing is now a fully proven concept! Onwards to new milestones.

I see a trend already in the AaI&A web stats for downloaded test reports. The samples printed with MIS R800/R1800 Ultrachrome equivalent inks have garnered very significant interest. Moreover, the samples I just received from one of AaI&A’s new members are also printed with third party inks on an Epson R1800 that has a continuous ink supply (CIS) system installed. These new samples were printed with pigmented inks manufactured and distributed by Image Specialists, Inc. Another member has also notified AaI&A he plans to contribute samples using yet another third party pigmented ink set. Are we seeing a pattern of interest here? AaI&A should have some early test results to share well before the year is out, a noteworthy fact considering that most industry-based testing models must run considerably longer with pigmented inks before any results can be compiled. This reporting time advantage for AaI&A’s I*metric/Megalux-hour exposure approach is true even though other testing labs typically use much higher light levels than AaI&A.

As I have noted in previous posts, the AaI&A light fade testing program is designed to test the materials and processes our members choose. It appears that early adopters of the program are actively working with third party ink and paper products. It is already apparent that these printmakers who are motivated enough to install CIS systems and to work with all the potential challenges of stepping outside the OEM universe have been longing for better guidance on the longevity of their inks. As I have also noted in numerous previous posts, AaI&A is very interested in documenting the history of this digital printing era, and third party inks do play a fascinating role in all of this activity although I have no strong sense how large this portion of the market is today. The inks we are discussing, especially the pigmented ink systems, are clearly aimed at a different end-user than the cheap ink refill cartridges customers get at the local office supply store mostly for plain paper printing purposes.

Mark H. McCormick-Goodhart
Director, Aardenburg Imaging & Archives