ALA Notes: PARS Forum – Preservation of Modern Digitally Printed Materials

Daniel M. Burge, Senior Research Scientist, Image Permanence Institute

  • a report on the IPI DP3 project (DP3 = digital print preservation portal)
  • Phase I (2007 – 2010) – survey materials and decay forces; build the DP3 website
  • Phase 2 (2011 – 2014) – refine / extend experimental work; deve final care recs, complete DP3 website
  • website describes the print processes, how to identify the various processes, information about deterioration and care of these materials, as well as a glossary, bibliography, and newsletter on the project
  • funding (for both phases) from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and IMLS
  • MANY types of print materials … just a few: continuous vs. drop on demand vs solid ink jet, laser jet ..
  • Analogy time:  typewriter:inkjet and laser :: offset lithography:digital press :: silver halide photo:inkjet
  • only talking about two here:
    • electrophotography (aka, EP or laser print)
      • photocopiers!
      • follow the link for an excellent illustration and explanation of the six basic stages of EP printing
      • digital color presses: dry toner vs. liquid toner (Indigo prints)
      • digital presses have many advantages over offset — don’t have to make up plates (can be on-demand / short-run)
      • paper options (plain vs. treated vs. coated) plus the materials those papers are composed of (pulp (virgin vs. groundwood) vs. recycled content: the substrate plays the major role in the long-term viability of the EP print (“it is ALL about the paper”)
    • drop-on-demand inkjet (95% of what you see)
      • actually invented in 1867 by Lord Kelvin …
      • follow the link for an excellent illustration and explanation of the printing process
      • dye vs. pigment inkjet: dyes are organic and soluble (think plants … which die); pigments are made from rocks (last a little longer than plants, right?)
      • again, the substrate (the paper type) plays a role: plain vs. coated vs. photo-coated (see link above for fantastic illustrations of the absorption of ink on the various paper surfaces)
      • there are a great variety of inkjet papers
  • Survey of institutions: types of prints in collections, types of deterioration observed
  • [and here my heart breaks because of course I was typing these notes directly into the WordPress online dashboard and suddenly I lost my wireless internet connection.  I’m an idiot.  However, I can say that the website does a great job documenting identification (especially the online Print Comparison Tool), deterioration mechanisms, and preventive measures and care of digitally printed materials.]
  • check out the IPI consumer guides
  • subscribe to the DP3 newsletter
  • two great book recommendations:
    • The Digital Print: Identification and Preservation by Martin C. Jürgens (2009). Available for purchase online from The Getty.
    • The Office Copying Revolution: History, Identification, and Preservation by Ian Batterham (2008). Available for purchase online from the National Archives of Australia.
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