Pigmented archival inks for HP DesignJet, Encad NovaJet, and ColorSpan.

The newer pigmented inks for wide format inkjet printers last years, even decades. Longevity and archival inks are crucial to the continued growth of the wide format printer market. After all, why spend $10,000+ for a printer that can only print disappearing colors? But people in the know use the newer archival inks. So far, Canon imagePROGRAF is the only thermal printhead technology lacking pigmented inks. That will change soon, since at CeBIT tradeshow, March '03, Canon showed their new pigmented inks in Europe. These should reach America by year 2004.

Most of the major companies offer an archival ink already. These are usually pigmented inks (as opposed to dye based inks used for interior use). I find the "outdoor" inks from Encad, even the old original GO inks (graphic outdoor inks) to be just fine in their range of color. Most of the Encad prints pictured throughout this entire web site are done with GO inks that are about three years old. Since the new inks are even better, you can look forward to vibrant color, that will last and last. The two posters below were printed with Encad GA inks, about three years ago. They have been hanging on the wall of the Museo Popol Vuh for two years now, and still have plenty of color. Sure, they will fade eventually, but two years is a long time for even a color photograph made in a professional photo studio (only Cibachrome, now Ilfachrome, would last longer).

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Ilford inks became well known several years ago with their "Archiva" inks. I had printers telling me these inks held up even if posted in a window receiving direct sun on the south side of their print shop. Now Ilford has the Ilford Archiva Extreme pigment based ink. We have not yet tried them, but as soon as we can get enough ink to evaluate it we will post the results.

In the meantime we would like to show the results with earlier (original) Ilford Archiva inks, used in their OEM version of the Encad 600-series wide format printer. We did the printing at Ilford Imaging, outside Frankfurt, Germany. These are a long-lasting dye ink. Very very good longevity. The images you are looking at are in tropical sunlight in Guatemala, Central America. Not even the jungle humidity down there bothers the Ilford, ColorSpan, or Encad inks. But prints with HP dye inks disappeared within a few months. Fortunately HP pigmented inks lasted just fine.

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This meter-high, two meter long rollout photograph of an 8th century Maya vase from the Museo Popol Vuh has been hanging in the board room, adjacent to the Rector's office, at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin. The photo was taken after the picture had already been on the wall for several months. It is not even protected by any lamination. The inks shown here are Ilford Archiva inks; Ilford now as eXtreme Archiva inks which we will begin testing this summer. Since the color on this Maya vase is over 1000 years old it would be a shame to print this on an Epson 9000 and have the print fade within a week outside, or fade within a few months inside.

Ilford inks are easiest to use in an Encad or Ilford wide format printer. If you have an Hewlett-Packard printer such as the HP DesignJet 2000CP or comparable HP 2500, 2800, 3000, 3800, those Ilford dye inks are not yet available. Encad and ColorSpan both have dye inks which last longer than HP's dye inks for wide format printers. For HP it's their pigmented inks that last well.

If you prefer a written guarantee of long-lasting inks, the HP DesignJet 2000, 2500, 2800, 3000, 3500, 3800CP pigmented ink for signs, posters, and banners are warranted by 3M for 24 months outdoors and 5 years indoors. Hewlett-Packard pigmented UV inks for the HP 5000 and 5500 are rated to last between 100 and 150 years (based on tests by the Wilhelm Imaging Research). FLAAR was very satisfied with our evaluation of the UV pigmented inks for the HP 5000. Very nice color gamut.

Need help? Just entering the world of wide format printers? To answer your questions and suggest which large format printer, which ink and media, which RIP is best for your needs, visit our website www.wide-format-printers.NET.


Most recently updated May 26, 2003.
Previous updates: July 06, 2002, May 13, 2002.