Appropriate Techniques for Surface Cleaning Inkjet Prints

Gadomski, Tessa
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University of Delaware
Inkjet prints are a new medium in the field of art conservation in relation to other art forms. In order to establish why inkjet prints should be cared for, familiarity with the history and current uses of inkjet prints is necessary. An understanding of the materials which create inkjet prints is essential in determining protocol for their care and treatment. Inkjet prints may be damaged by a variety of sources, and the longevity of inkjet prints may vary based upon which combination of materials has been chosen. Establishing protocol for surface cleaning inkjet prints is a need within the field of art conservation, and was determined to be the goal of this project. The materials tested are widely used to create fine-art inkjet prints. The Epson Stylus Pro 4800 printer was chosen for this reason, and because it employs the K3 Ultrachrome ink set, which is pigment based. Two different microporous inkjet papers, Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster and Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk , were tested. A digital file, or “target,” was designed using well-known color space values, and used to create twelve sample prints. Preliminary quantitative measurements of changes in color were made, as well as qualitative analysis of surface sheen and dye migration. This analysis was repeated after testing.The cleaning solutions tested were deionized water, a water and ethanol solution, and a PhotoFlo and water solution. These materials were chosen because they are common cleaning agents which are likely to be found in the labs of most photograph conservators. Two cleaning techniques were tested; application with a cotton swab and full immersion. Results suggest that two of the cleaning materials used may be acceptable for future treatment of inkjet prints. Ethanol and water was determined to be inappropriate for cleaning the inkjet materials tested in this study, and immersion was determined to be inappropriate for prints created on Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk. Cleaning with cotton swabs produced noticeable changes in surface sheen in paper white areas, but this technique may be acceptable for image areas. Further research of alternative cleaning methods and materials is suggested to yield conclusive results.