Environmentally Induced Aging Properties

Artist-Favored Naked Prints Subject to Ozone Attack

Aardenburg Imaging & Archives began our digital print research program with light fade testing because light fade resistance is an essential property for any photographic print on display. One can typically protect a print from air pollution, and avoid excessive heat and humidity on display, but you need good lighting to see the true colors and tones in a print on display. Print illumination and its damaging effects are manageable, but nevertheless unavoidable for any print that hangs for long periods of time on a wall in one’s home, office, or gallery.

Our light fade testing program and the test results we now provide are second to none in the industry. It’s time to look at other environmentally induced aging properties, and ozone attack is next on our list. Ozone would probably not rank as high on our list if it were not for another very current trend we are seeing in the printmaking community and in galleries all over the world. That trend can aptly be named “the naked print”. There is a growing desire in the photography and printmaking communities to display prints without any picture glazing…i.e., no cover glass, no acrylic, and often no coatings or laminates to alter the appearance of the virgin print surface or protect this surface from indiscriminate chemical and physical abuse by mother nature and the viewing public.

Ozone test chambers aren’t cheap, and some are more suitable for our research than others. We want to purchase a unit well suited for textiles and photographic media. We have identified the unit we wish to purchase as the IN USA OTC-1. There are four reasons we like this model. 1) It was designed with photo media and textiles as a primary testing application for the unit. 2) it is cost effective compared to other ozone test chambers. 3) The manufacturer is located near us in Massachusetts so service and support will benefit from our proximity to each other, and 4) It is totally self-contained, needs no additional ventilation, and runs on 115V/15A service with only 60 watt energy consumption. Thus, installation here at Aardenburg Imaging will require no additional capital construction or site renovations costs, and ongoing energy consumption will not be a major factor in the long term studies we usually conduct here at Aardenburg Imaging & Archives.

The project as it now stands consists solely of the the fund raising effort needed to purchase, install, and get some initial “kick the tires” testing underway. The OTC-1 unit currently sells for approximately $25,000. Our funding goal is therefore commensurate with this amount plus an added contingency to cover any unforeseen additional costs. When we draw nearer to the funding goal for this project, Aardenburg Imaging staff will then outline plans for some initial gas fading studies. Dye-based photo prints are a logical first choice, but no fade patterns for pigment ink damage due to ozone attack seem to be published to date, so another objective of the project is to test pigmented ink systems and learn more about their signature fading characteristics caused by ozone attack.

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