Pigments solve all print fading problems.

A print returns to its natural color when optical brighteners (OBA’s) fade.

My print will last for (x) number of years.

I can always re-print.

Manufacturers should pay for testing.

These common misperceptions regarding modern print systems and associated print media are industry-wide. While much progress has been made in addressing image quality and permanence, the story is far from over.

This is where Aardenburg Imaging comes in. Testing using the i* Metric for nearly a decade, Aardenburg Imaging has established the most advanced light fade testing program in the industry by adhering to the highest testing standards in a direct relationship with the printmaking community.

Our Core Values
Aardenburg Imaging Research

Advanced Protocol
Whereas traditional color difference models and densitometry measure “color for color’s sake,” the i* Metric is the only testing methodology available today that measures color in the context of image content information. Unlike densitometry and color difference models, the i* Metric tracks the essential parameter of Visual Contrast, while properly weighting hue and chroma errors exactly the way human beings evaluate them within a complex photographic image, and doing so in ways that previous methods cannot achieve.

Absolute Rating System
Aardenburg Imaging publishes light fastness performance ratings in Megalux Hours, a direct measurement of the light exposure dose to which each print sample has been subjected in testing. We provide a convenient megalux hours-to-“years of display time” conversion table to translate megalux hour ratings into estimated display lifetimes specific to users’ real world display environments.

This approach is in stark contrast to current industry-accepted practice in which test exposures are extrapolated to a single specified light level value, which in turn yields a single seemingly absolute answer to the question, “how long will my print last?”  Such simplified ‘one light-level-fits all’ ratings neglect the fact that print owners easily can exert influence over print fading simply by controlling the light levels in the print display location.

Criterion for Failure
Aardenburg’s Conservation Display Rating is derived from an extremely conservative criteria set in determining a period of excellence required by a Fine Art Standard.

Using the i* Metric, Aardenburg’s CDR system asks how much light exposure a print can receive and still be in excellent condition, thus objectively quantifying subjective image appearance, lessening any debate regarding the standard, and assuring printmakers are fully informed regarding the image quality and permanence data of the tested system.

Comprehensive Testing
Systems are examined fully only when the entirety of the system is tested. Only if a test measures all of the inks in a specified printer can that test be regarded as comprehensive. Every Aardenburg Imaging i* Metric test is comprehensive.

Also, systems when tested correctly show varying strengths and weaknesses, and a printmaker’s choice of system often depends upon multiple and varied factors. Only the i* Metric, when properly implemented, can test for and reveal the “full story” of a given system’s characteristics.

Discreet Systems Testing

Every system is tested as published. Aardenburg does not re-purpose data or infer results for related but different systems.

For example, two printers of differing widths may use the same print heads, driver technology, and driver screening pattern, and may well generate similar results. But we cannot guaranty that the differently sized printer will yield identical results. Also, if a next generation printer adds an orange and green ink, the i* Metric tests for the entire discreet system, including the added ink sets.

In the event that artists may find benefit in looking at results from related systems, and infer or extrapolate, members are encouraged to do so in situations where their specific model is not tested. This is especially relevant for media. For example, certain papers have yellowing issues which appear on all systems, unrelated to printer.

True Independence
Unlike other fee for service testing labs, all testing and published results are entirely independent from funding by OEM manufacturers.

Aardenburg’s membership donation structure and mission are developed solely with and for end-user printmakers, empowering them to make fully informed choices for today’s modern printing systems.