Future Directions In Digital Print Preservation Research at IPI
IPI’s first two studies on the preservation of digitally printed materials are complete. Our first project, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, focused on understanding the effects of heat, humidity, light, and pollution on these materials. Our second project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, focused on potentially harmful chemical and physical interactions between digital prints and enclosures, the risk of damage during handling, and the sensitivities of these materials to flood. Technical articles describing the experimental results can be found in the Research section. However, the final results of the light, heat, nitrogen dioxide exposure, and flood work, are still awaiting publication. The final project reports to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and IMLS are now available.
|Figure 1: Light-induced fade|
This is not the end of IPI's research into the preservation of digital prints. IPI is committed to continuing our study of the preservation of digitally printed materials in cultural heritage collections. While a tremendous amount of new knowledge has been gained through IPI’s first projects in this area, there is still more to learn and do. IPI has identified the following as the most important areas for future work:
- Development of techniques to mitigate damage to digitally printed materials caused by airborne pollutants
Investigation of the thermal stability of digital-printing colorants
Establishment of time, temperature, and humidity limits to prevent disfiguring colorant bleed
Establishment of the minimum surface roughness, force, and usage cycles needed to initiate abrasion damage in order to develop best practices for handling prints and establish proper surface properties for intimate storage enclosures
Development of techniques to mitigate damage to digitally printed materials caused by light while on display
Research to understand the preservation needs of digitally printed materials in bound volumes such as periodicals and monographs
Advancement in the techniques used to identify the various digital print types to ensure that the right materials are being cared for in the right ways
Continuation of the study of flood damage prevention, response, and recovery for digitally printed materials
The development of techniques to mitigate damage to digitally printed materials caused by airborne pollutants will be explored in a new IMLS-funded study “Pollution Damage Mitigation for Inkjet Printed Materials in Museum Collections”. This three-year study will first examine the power of reduced temperature to minimize reaction rates between the print colorants and papers and airborne pollutants. The results of this study will help to optimize storage temperature recommendations (and potentially reduce energy waste if cold storage is not warranted). Secondly, the study will look at the effectiveness of various common enclosures to prevent pollution-induced damage. The efficiency and cost of each technique (reduced temperature vs. rehousing) can then be compared so that institutions can determine the most cost-effective way to protect their particular collection. Figure 2 is an example of pollution-induced damage.
|Figure 2: Ozone-induced cracking|
IPI has also requested additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to address many of the other areas of concern listed above, including the thermal stability of digital-printing colorants; the time, temperature, and humidity limits to prevent bleed; the limits of surface roughness, force, and usage cycles necessary to cause objectionable abrasion; light damage mitigation techniques; issues associated with preserving bound digital prints (periodicals and books); and an advanced print identification methodology.