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How good are third-party inks at resisting ultra-violet and ozone fading, when compared with original manufacturers' inks? After 12 months testing, our final assessment may come as a surprise.

In the first part of our Inkjet Investigation, around 12 months ago, we discovered that our panel of viewers liked the look of some third-party ink and paper combinations as much as the original manufacturers' offerings. In the Inkjet Investigation Part 2, three months later, after we'd fade tested samples of each combination, some third-party inks and papers were less faded than originals. So how do they all fare after 12 months?
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We're aiming to answer the question: Do original manufacturers' inks resist fade better than third-party equivalents? If so, how badly do the third-party inks fade and are prints still usable. We use real world testing, sticking print samples in a window where natural light falls on them. If you're putting prints on a public notice board or in a shop window, this is the kind of light they'd be exposed to.

We took the prints that we'd used in the first part of this survey and chose the landscape image, which contains areas of blue, green and red inks. We cut each print into three and stuck the left third of each image on boards which we then put in the lab window, where they would be exposed to typical daylight conditions.
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The second third of each strip was stuck to a clip frame and covered with glass, before being hung from an internal wall with no direct sunlight falling on it. The final third of each print was put in a darkened draw in a sealed container.

The reason for putting the internal-wall samples behind glass is not to help protect them from light-fade, but rather from ozone-fade. This can be an appreciable factor in fade in an urban office environment, where traffic pollution and even office equipment can increase the ozone content in the air.

See also:

The Inkjet Investigation

The Inkjet Investigation Part 2

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