GOframe System Simplifies Inkjet Canvas Stretching

The GOframe inkjet canvas stretching system from Innova Art is a flexible, easy-to-use method of converting inkjet photo and art prints into stretched canvases (gallery wraps). You don’t need pliers, pins, or staples to create a drum-tight stretched canvas.

The GOframe 1500 stretcher bars range from 4 inches to 60 inches are supplied in 16-count boxes.

With the re-usable right-angle corner clamps, you can join four equally long bars to create square wraps. Or, create rectangular wraps by joining two shorter bars with two longer ones. The bars can be joined to create stretched canvas displays that are 1.25 or 1.5 inch deep.

The stretcher bars include high-quality adhesive tape that secures the print as it is folded around bars. The corner kits keep the tape from touching the surface of the print while you adjust the position of the print. U-shaped fasteners can be inserted by hand to secure perfectly finished corners. (See the video below for a demonstration.)

Museum-Grade Stretcher Bars

The GOframe bars are made from the best grades of North American basswood and sourced from mills that use sustainable forest practices.

Because of its stability and low resin and lignin content, basswood is the wood of choice for museum-quality stretcher bars. The wood is dried in a kiln to a moisture content of less than 8 percent. This ensures that the wood won’t warp or shrink after the canvas has been applied to the stretching frame.

Starter Kits and Optional Accessories

Starter kits include everything you need to make a GOframe from your print: stretcher bars with adhesive; four corner fasteners; a canvas trimmer; and a bottle of archival quality glue to keep canvas permanently affixed to the bars.

Other accessories include a bar-trimming station, joining clips, and collage clips. GOframe’s Bar-Trimming Station and joining clips can be used to create custom-length bars for custom sizes of stretched canvas. The joining clips can also be used when adding a center brace to the back of the wrap frame. Collage clips can connect two or more frames to create eye-catching montages of multiple wraps.

Hexagonal Stretched Canvas

innova-art_goframe-hex-frame-600x344To make something special with stretched canvas, try GOframe’s Hex Frame System. With the specialized corners in these kits, you can join six 5-inch bars to create a hexagonal stretched canvas with a 1.25-inch depth.

Use the hexagonal GOframe as a freestanding photo display on a desk or shelf or hang it on the wall.  The hexagonal display makes it possible to hang a higher number of prints in a smaller area of wall space.

Thirteen Tips for Designing Banner Stand Graphics

Designing banner stand graphics isn’t difficult if you understand a few basic principles. If your organization has a full-color wide-format inkjet printer for photos and graphics, you can use inkjet popup film from Freedom Paper to print replacement graphics for an existing banner stand or a new stand purchased for a specific event.

Portable banner stands make it easy to post messages about your company and services anywhere you meet customers and prospects face-to-face. A huge variety of banner stands for temporary or long-term use can be purchased online from display-product sites such as Displays2go.com. Some lightweight, temporary banner stands cost less than $35.

Use banner stand graphics to promote upcoming events, and/or set up a banner stand at the entrance of rooms in which events will be held. At trade shows, use banner-stand graphics to announce special promotions or serve as a low-cost backdrop to tabletop exhibits.

Like a Magazine Ad Viewed from Afar

Designing an eye-catching banner-stand graphic is similar to designing a magazine ad to promote your firm’s brand. The main difference is that the banner-stand graphic must make a strong impression when viewed from a distance of 3 ft. to 20 ft.

Rollup banner stand icon in cartoon styleHere are a few suggestions to keep in mind when planning and designing a banner-stand graphic:

DO use the template supplied by the banner stand manufacturer. The template indicates how much surface area of a banner is available for graphics and how much margin you should leave to attach the printed banner to the stand.

DON’T try to cram too much information on the banner. Use one banner stand to convey one main message. If it takes longer than 3 seconds to understand the main message, your banner has too much copy.

DO use one large eye-catching image instead of several smaller images. The best way to make a quick impression is to use a striking visual that expresses something noteworthy about your organization. A collection of smaller images can distract from your key message.

DO use big, bold type and short, punchy phrases. Try to limit your main graphic message to 6 words or less. If the banner stand will be viewed from 3 feet away, type should be at least 2 inches high. Use 4-inch type if the banner stand will be viewed from 6 feet away and 6-inch type if you want to banner to be legible from 9 feet away.

DO use a sans serif font such as Helvetica or Futura to make the copy easier to read quickly.

DON’T include specific dates or limited-time promotion offers if you want to re-use the graphic at future events.

DO use high-resolution files for images. In most cases a 150 dpi image at full size will look fine. If you’re starting with a 300 dpi photo, it can be enlarged up to 3 times its original size before it starts losing quality. When ordering a stock photo for the graphic, choose the largest size available.

DO include your company logo and website on the banner graphic. If the people you are targeting are adept smartphone users, add a QR code along with a short message encouraging them to scan the QR code for online access to a special offer or more information.

DO use a high-quality vector file instead of the logo from a business card. A vector file is an EPS or AI file created in Adobe Illustrator instead of a PSD or JPEG pixel-based image file prepared in Adobe Photoshop. (Online tutorials can show you how to convert JPEGs to vector files in Adobe Illustrator.) In addition to logos, vector files are best of large illustrations and decorative typography.

DO use contrasting colors, such as light-colored text on a dark background, or dark text on a light background. Use no more than 3 colors on the banner, and make sure the colors match the mood of your message. Because a banner-stand graphic can be a branding tool, consider using the typography and brand colors that match your brochures and other marketing collateral.

DON’T use a textured background behind the copy. A texture will make the copy harder to read from a distance.

DO understand where the banner will be placed. For example, if the banner stand will be set up behind a meeting-room registration table, make sure that the key message on the banner won’t be hidden behind people sitting at the table. Try to keep the most important copy and images at least 4 to 6 feet above the floor. If the banner stand will be placed in front of ambient light sources, choose a pop-up banner film with a block-out layer to keep the lights from shining through.

DO choose the right inkjet material for the display conditions. Because lighting requirements can vary from site to site, you will probably prefer inkjet media with a matte surface so the graphics won’t reflect glare from overhead lights. For roll-up banner stands (in which the graphic is stored on a roll in the base of the display), you will want a flat, durable polypropylene inkjet roll-up film that won’t kink or curl at the edges. Inkjet-printable fabrics can also be used in banner stands. While fabrics can offer a softer, classier look, the graphics may not be as durable as a graphics film for multiple uses.

Call Us for Help!

On the Freedom Paper website, you can find an assortment of inkjet popup films and other wide-format inkjet media rolls for banner-stand graphics. Call our customer-service team at 866-310-3335 if you need help selecting the product that’s right for your project.


Freedom Paper Inkjet Materials for Pop Up Displays and Banner Stands

Displays2Go: Banner Stands (without graphics)

Use Innova Inkjet Paper with DIY Photo Panels and Wraps

Innova inkjet papers and canvases are popular with discerning, quality-focused photographers and printmakers. Did you know that the same company that makes Innova inkjet paper also offers two DIY products that make your inkjet prints ready to hang?

JetMaster-PhotoPanel.bmpInnova JetMaster Photo Panels provide a stylish, frame-free way to display small inkjet prints on desk, counters, shelves, and walls. Innova’s JetMaster Photo Wrap system provides a corrugated box-like structure to support “gallery-wrap” prints. These products are ideal for photo enthusiasts, artists, and do-it-yourselfers because the systems don’t require laminators, canvas stretching accessories, or other specialized tools.

JetMaster Photo Panel

JetMaster Photo Panels can be used to mount small exhibition prints or make decorative art products for sale at art fairs, gift shops, or galleries. Each photo panel is 22 mm (0.866 inches) thick and top-coated with a presssure-sensitive adhesive that makes print-mounting a breeze.

Use your hands or a roller to press the aligned print into position, then trim away the edges of the print. The panels are available in sizes ranging from 5 x 7 to 24 x 30 inches.


The edges of each panel will be visible when prints are displayed, so choose the surface finish (black or white) that matches your décor. The pre-drilled holes on the back of each panel can be used with wall-hanging accessories or the supplied stand for tabletop display.


JetMaster Wrap System

With JetMaster®Photo Wrap system, it takes just a few minutes to convert prints on flexible materials into ready-to-hang gallery wraps. Display the wraps at trade shows, exhibitions, presentations, and other events.

Instead of using stretching bars, the JetMaster system starts with a pre-cut, flat sheet of pre-scored corrugated board that can be folded into a box-like mounting surface. The board is pre-coated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive for easy mounting.

The corrugated cardboard “wrap” is flame-retardant, moisture resistant, and light enough to hang with a single tack. The system works best with flexible papers (under 200 gsm) and canvases (under 400 gsm). It is available in sizes ranging from 5 x 5 inches up to 16 x 20 inches.


Order Innova Products from Freedom Paper

Freedom Paper offers a wide selection of Innova inkjet photo papers and canvases as well as inkjet photo papers from Kodak, HP, Sihl, Canon, Moab, and Harman by Hahnemeuhle.

If you have questions about which papers might work best with these systems, please call the friendly experts at Freedom Paper at 866-310-3335.


JetMaster Systems

Freedom Paper: Innova Art Paper and Canvas


Tips for Applying an Inkjet Protective Spray

Hahnemuehle Protective Spray

Hahnemuehle Protective Spray

Inkjet protective sprays were specifically developed to seal the surface of photos and art printed with aqueous inks on fine art papers from Hahnemuehle, Moab by Legion Paper, Innova, Museo and other companies. They can also be used with glossy and matte photo papers.

Without an inkjet protective spray, your prints can be easily damaged by fingerprints, dirt, moisture, abrasion, and exposure to UV light. Or, aqueous pigment inks can transfer from the surface of an unprotected print to a facing page in a book or album.

Inkjet protective sprays for fine art prints are formulated to be completely transparent. They also don’t adversely affect the underlying structure or color of the art paper.

Here are a few tips for applying the lacquer-based inkjet protective sprays required for aqueous inks on fine art paper.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area, away from open flames, sparks, or high heat. Wear safety goggles or glasses.
  • Wait at least 15 minutes after the print comes off the printer, then apply the first light coat.
  • Hold the can about 6 to 8 inches from the surface of the print.
  • Cover the entire print by spraying the first coat in a horizontal path. Apply a second light coat, using a vertical spray path.
  • To ensure the print is fully protected, consider applying a third light coat. Spray diagonally from corner to corner.
  • If the print won’t be mounted or framed behind glass, apply the coating to both the front and back of the print.
  • Allow at least 20 minutes for the coating to dry. Drying may take longer if you are working in a humid environment.
  • Consider testing the spray on a few small proof prints first.

Freedom Paper sells several popular brands of fine art inkjet papers and two brands of inkjet projective spray: Moab Desert Varnish and Hahnemuehle Protective Spray. A 400 ml aerosol can provide two to three protective coats on 20 to 40 8.5 x 11‐in. images.

If you have further questions about either of these products, call us at 866-310-3335 and we would be happy to help.

Protecting Inkjet Prints with Films, Coatings, and Sprays

With the wide-format inkjet printable media from Freedom Paper, you can produce everything from postcards and presentation prints to fine art and wall murals on the wide format inkjet printer in your office or studio.

But to create indoor or outdoor display graphics, art prints, or heirloom photo prints, it’s essential to understand different methods of protecting inkjet prints.

This knowledge is especially important if you use an older model wide format inkjet printer that uses dye inks.

Even if you use a new photo/graphics wide format inkjet printer that uses more fade-resistant pigment inks, you still must know how to protect the prints from scratches, abrasion, and airborne pollutants.

Here are a few of the most popular options:

Aerosol Spray Lacquers

Moab Desert VarnishProtective sprays provide a fast, easy way to protect inkjet prints on fine art papers from abrasion, fingerprints, UV light, and airborne pollutants. These sprays are commonly used with smaller prints on art papers or photo papers with porous coatings. Spray-on coatings are particularly popular for prints that are designed to be handled, such as notecards, album pages, or portfolio prints.

The aerosol spray forms a fine film that doesn’t affect the structure of the paper. Unfortunately, the spray lacquers required to protect water-soluble dye inks contain solvents. This means you should apply it in a well-ventilated area, wear goggles, and/or use a respirator that meets OSHA and NIOSH safety requirements.

One product Freedom Paper recommends for users of aqueous dye inks is Moab Desert Varnish. This spray improves waterfastness, dries quickly, and adds UV-resistance and scratch protection. If you apply 2 light coats (as recommended), a 13.5-oz. can will cover about 60 A4 prints. After the coating dries, you won’t even know it’s there! But your prints will be much more resistant to ordinary handling. Hahnemuehle Protective Spray is another good option for protecting prints on inkjet art paper.

Liquid Clearcoats and Varnishes

A properly formulated clearcoat can add years to the life of prints on canvas or vinyl by protecting them from UV light, airborne pollutants, abrasion, and water damage. After the liquid coating dries on the surface of the print, it forms a thin, barrier film that protects the ink and the canvas, vinyl, wallcovering material, or paper beneath it.

Different formulations of liquid coatings exist to meet the different display requirements of inkjet canvas, indoor wallcoverings, and outdoor signs.

For example, clearcoats for inkjet canvas (which are also referred to as varnishes or veneers) must remain supple enough not to crack when the canvas is stretched around the wood bars of a gallery wraps. Clearcoats for fine art applications are made to penetrate the canvas without causing color shifts or other undesirable interactions with the ink-receptive coating on the surface of the canvas.

Clearcoats for outdoor signs must be rugged enough to withstand weather hazards such as driving rains and windborne hail, exhaust fumes, and other airborne particles and pollutants.

If you print color images with aqueous dye inks, you must use a solvent-based clearcoat such as ClearJet Series FA for art or Original ClearJet for signs.

If you print images with aqueous pigment inks, latex inks, or eco-solvent inks on water-resistant canvases, vinyl banners, or adhesive materials for outdoor signage, you can apply a water-based clearcoat such as ClearShield or ClearShield Type C.

Applying Hahnemuhle VarnishTwo water-based clearcoats specifically formulated for water-resistant inkjet canvases include Museo ENHANCE™ and Hahnemuehle Varnish. The coatings are available in satin, gloss, and matte finishes. The gloss coatings can increase the richness of the blacks and colors.

Before applying a clearcoat, it’s always a good idea to pretest your digital prints to ensure that you are using the correct formulation. Inadvertently using a water-based clearcoat with aqueous dye inks would cause the inks to bleed.

If you only want to coat a few prints, you can use a high-density foam roller to apply the canvas. Print shops that coat higher volumes of canvas prints typically build a spray booth and use a high-volume, low pressure (HVLP) spray gun to coat the canvases.

Liquid laminators have been designed to automatically apply thin even layers of clearcoats to vinyl, canvas, or superwide graphics. Drytac’s Elite Coater is a tabletop flood coater that can apply a water-based clearcoat to fine art papers and canvas up to 44 inches wide. These mechanical devices must be used in temperature and humidity-controlled, dust-free environments.

Laminating Films

A huge variety of clear, adhesive-backed films have been designed to protect to the surface of all sorts of printed documents, including inkjet prints.

cold-roll laminator

Lower-cost “hot” laminating films are made with heat-stable polyester films. The adhesives of “hot laminating films” are activated by the heat and pressure of laminators with heated rollers. A typical hot laminating film for printed documents activates at temperatures between 210 and 240 degrees. Because these high levels of heat can damage some types of inkjet prints, “low melt” or “heat-assist” films have been developed.

“Low melt” films have heat-activated adhesives that can be applied at temperatures between 185 and 195 degrees. “Heat assist” films have pressure-sensitive adhesives and liners and applied with hot-roll laminators at temperatures of 185 to 195 degrees.

“Cold laminating films” can be made of PVC, polyester, polycarbonate, polyolefin, or other substrates. These films use more aggressive, pressure-sensitive adhesives that are protected with a release liner until they are applied. Cold laminating films typically cost more than hot laminating films, but they can be applied with less costly, easier-to-operate non-heated laminators.

For smaller graphics such as yard signs, you can use a wide-format squeegee from sign-supply companies such as Sign Warehouse to apply a pressure-sensitive laminating film.

Laminating films vary greatly in cost, durability, flexibility, and their resistance to UV light.

In order to protect dye-ink prints from the damaging effects of moisture and humidity, it’s best to “encapsulate” the print between two sheets of laminating film that are slightly larger than the print. This keeps moisture from seeping in around the edges.

Framing Materials

Most prints output on fine art and photo papers are designed to be displayed in frames. To keep the prints from fading or yellowing, it’s best to use a framing glass or acrylic sheet that has UV filters. The UV filters not only can slow down the fade rate of inks, but can also keep optical brightening agents (OBAs) used to manufacture the paper or canvas from wearing out.

Acrylic glazing such as Plexiglas® weighs less than glass and is less likely to shatter. Acrylic is popular for framing large-format prints that will be shipped or displayed in children’s rooms. Some museums use acrylic

Glass is typically less expensive and more scratch resistant than acrylic. But it is less optically pure and may show a green or yellowish tint.

The Frame Destinations website includes an excellent page that describes the pros and cons of using acrylic and glass for short-term and longer-term print protection.

When preparing images for framing, it’s essential to use archival-grade mat boards and adhesives. If you apply a water-based adhesive (such as starch pastes for hinging) to the back of printed areas in a dye inkjet prints, the moisture can migrate and cause the colorants to bleed. It’s also important to avoid the use of pressure-sensitive adhesives to the front surface of an inkjet print.

Storage Boxes and Portfolios

Moab Chinle Archival Storage BoxAnother way to protect inkjet prints is to mat them and store them away from the air and light in an enclosure or portfolio that meets the ISO Standard 18902 for albums, framing, and storage materials for processed imaging materials.

The standard specifies that enclosures be acid-free, be lignin-free, and not include rubber adhesives or chlorinated, plasticized or cellulosic plastics. The enclosure should also contain 2% alkaline reserve to buffer the paper against acids in the environment and pass the Photographic Activity Test developed by the Image Permanence Institute to evaluates possible chemical interactions between enclosures and photographic images after long-term storage.

The Moab Chinle Archival Storage boxes and Moab Chinle Economy Folio meet these requirements for prints up to 13 x 19 inches.

According to the Image Permanence Institute, the ISO Standard 18902 isn’t totally satisfactory for inkjet prints: “It is more difficult to select safe enclosures for inkjet because of the diversity of ink and paper formulations used as well as their individual chemical and physical responses to enclosure materials.” Some inkjet prints might be subject to adhesive-induced yellowing, bleed, and abrasion.

Inkjet photo and art prints should never be stored in vinyl plastic enclosures. Only smooth, polyester sheeting is safe for contact with print surface.

Questions? Advice?

If you have additional questions about protecting inkjet printable media, please give us a call or leave a comment below. If you have any tips or suggestions related to inkjet-print protection, please send them our way.


Video: Museo Enhance Topcoat Demonstration Tutorial

Moab Desert Varnish

Hahnemuehle Protective Spray


Inkjet Photo Printing Tip: How to Uncurl Roll or Sheet Paper

Darlow-Inkjet-Tips-Book-CoverThis is the first in a series of inkjet photo printing tips, It is excerpted with permission (and minor modifications) from the book “301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource for Photographers” by photographer Andrew Darlow.

TIP 108: How to Uncurl Roll or Sheet Paper

One of the most frustrating things that artists often have to deal with is curled paper. This is primarily an issue when printing on paper from a roll (especially as you reach the end of a roll), but I’ve also seen curled paper in cut-sheet boxes.

Learning how to uncurl paper can help avoid the dreaded “head strike” or paper jam problems that can occur on some printers, and it makes for a better presentation when delivering prints to clients.

Flat paper is also easier to frame and mount, and less likely to show unevenness when matted.

One way to uncurl paper is by placing weight on the paper with the curled side down—usually that’s the print side. A box of paper or sheets of MDF (medium density fiberboard), like the type commonly used for shelving and furniture, work well as weights.

For more stubborn curls, you can roll the print in the opposite direction around a tube. A room with medium to high humidity (over 50 percent) will generally help paper to uncurl more easily, and you can achieve this by laying out your pigment-ink photo prints in a humid room (for example, near a running shower, or in a room with a humidifier) for about 15 minutes just before rolling or flattening them. This should help to remove the curl, especially when used with the following rolling technique.

I’ve prepared a step-by-step rolling tube technique that I use for uncurling paper, and photographs are provided to illustrate the steps. I recommend using a lightweight piece of canvas, or a similar material. I generally use leftover coated inkjet canvas for this purpose.

A three-inch-diameter tube with a curled print from a roll. I recommend using tape under the very front edge of the canvas (where it touches the tube) to adhere the canvas to the tube. Double-sided tape (such as carpet tape) is recommended because you don’t want to create uneven bumps under the canvas. Photo: ©Andrew Darlow

The diameter of the tube will usually determine how well the paper gets uncurled. I recommend a two- to three-inch diameter tube for prints under about 16 × 20 inches, and a three- to five-inch tube for prints over 16 × 20 inches.

Every paper reacts differently, so you may have to experiment to find just the right tubes and just the right time to keep the prints rolled up when uncurling your favorite papers.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Place a print with the curled area facing down on the canvas. It should be about three to six inches from the edge of the canvas so that when you begin rolling the canvas around the tube, only the canvas (not the tube) will be touching the print. Make sure that the print meets the canvas on the roll completely straight. If the prints are very curled, a second person can make the process much easier. Also, the tube, as well as the piece of canvas should be at least one inch wider than the art on both sides.

Step 2: Roll the canvas very tightly, using medium downward pressure as you roll.

This image shows the beginning of the rolling process. It’s important to keep the paper straight and to apply medium pressure (similar to the way you might roll up a carpet). Photo: ©Andrew Darlow

Step 3: If your paper has just a slight curl, wait about a minute and then unroll it in the opposite direction, with medium pressure. It may need to be rolled again if the curl does not come out to your satisfaction, or you may need to leave the print rolled around the core for a longer amount of time. Ten minutes can make a big difference in the amount of curl that will come out compared with just a minute, and keeping a print rolled up for a day will generally have an even greater effect.

Step 4: If you keep the paper rolled around the core for more than a minute, I recommend using about two or three pieces of tape on the outside of the roll to hold the canvas tightly wound around the core. I also recommend de-curling just one print at a time (especially with prints on matte paper) unless they are placed side by side prior to rolling, and not stacked.

A sheet of very thin protective paper can help to protect very fragile print surfaces (especially prints with a lot of heavy dark ink coverage). However, a sheet of paper placed on a print and then rolled can also cause marks in the print, so it’s a good idea to do a test first. A good protective paper option to consider is Acid-Free Permalife Buffered Paper from University Products. The sheets of archival papers can also be used for print interleaving when showing work in a portfolio, or when transporting prints.

The 25-inch-long tube used for uncurling prints, with three pieces of packing tape attached to hold the rolled print in place. Photo: ©Andrew Darlow

The 25-inch-long tube used for uncurling prints, with three pieces of packing tape attached to hold the rolled print in place. Photo: ©Andrew Darlow


After about 10 minutes, the print is unrolled, and becomes almost completely flat. Photo: ©Andrew Darlow

After about 10 minutes, the print is unrolled, and becomes almost completely flat. Photo: ©Andrew Darlow

Step 5: When you unroll the print, do it very carefully, and apply the same type of pressure as when you initially rolled it up. A commercial product made to eliminate printer curl is the Bienfang D-Roller. It comes in two sizes and is available from companies that sell framing supplies. There is an excellent video demonstration of the D-Roller by Michael Reichmann on The Luminous Landscape website. Other sites feature some good online discussions that describe how a number of people are de-curling their prints.

About the Author 

Photo of Andrew Darlow

Andrew Darlow is a photographer, writer and digital imaging consultant. He is the current editor of ImagingBuffet.com, an online imaging magazine and podcast. His work has been featured in numerous magazines and websites, including Photo District News, Popular Photography, Rangefinder, and Studio Photography. For more than 20 years, he has taught thousands how to improve their  photography, workflow and digital print output at conferences, industry events, and educational institutions, including the PDN PhotoPlus Expo, the Arles Photo Festival (Arles, France), the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography in New York.

His award-winning book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource for Photographers, is a resource that covers many aspects of digital printmaking. It includes the imagery and advice of over 20 photographers and other artists. Darlow also publishes a free newsletter,available at www.imagingbuffet.com/newsletter and provides tips and advice on facebook.com/andrewdarlow



Preserving Art Prints on Archival Matte Paper

Logo for Digital Print Preservation Portal

If you plan to use an archival matte paper to make long-lasting art or photo prints, keep in mind that the longevity of a print depends on factors other than how the archival matte paper was manufactured.

Print permanence is also affected by the type of inks used and how the print is protected, mounted, framed, displayed, and stored.

For insights on how to preserve digitally printed photographs, visit the Digital Print Preservation Portal (DP3) of the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Since 1985, the IPI has provided museums, libraries, universities, and companies with advice on preserving the diverse mix of printed images and books in their most valuable collections.

Since 2007, the IPI has been evaluating the stability of digitally printed materials and developing techniques for mitigating damage and extending their useful lives

Most research on the DP3 portal focuses on the three most popular methods of digitally printing culturally significant materials: inkjet, digital electrophotography (toner-based digital presses); and dye sublimation (dye diffusion thermal transfer).


On the DP3 portal and in the free 10-page “IPI Guide to the Preservation of Digitally Printed Photographs,” IPI researchers have published some of the storage, handling, framing, and display advice that the IPI gives to curators, archivists, serious collectors, and professional printmakers.

In the IPI Guide, researcher Daniel Burge notes that “As with most collection materials, temperature and relative humidity (RH) control the natural aging rates of digital prints.” Exposing the prints to temperature and humidity extremes can cause damage that wouldn’t occur under proper storage conditions.

Below are some findings and suggestions from the IPI Guide and pages on the DP3 portal:

Digitally printed photographs are highly variable in their sensitivities to decay forces such as heat, moisture, and air pollutants. Signs of decay include image fade, paper yellowing, ink bleed, and cracking or delamination of the paper layers. The IPI Guide notes that “Photos printed on two different manufacturers’ inkjet printers using equivalent ink and paper types can have radically different deterioration rates due to subtle variations in the colorant and paper formulations.”

Inkjet dyes can bleed when exposed to high humidity, even for short periods. At humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent, most prints will be stable for at least 28 days. When unprotected dye inks prints are exposed to humidity levels above 80 percent, the prints can start to show noticeable bleeding in less than 24 hours. Displaying or storing the prints in low humidity conditions (under 25 percent) can cause print layers to become brittle.

In general, inkjet pigments are more resistant to fade than dyes. The researchers suggest that “This doesn’t necessarily mean that pigment inkjet prints are robust when displayed for extended periods. Pigments can fade, just at a slower rate.”

Prints made with pigment inks can be very sensitive to abrasion. Hold prints carefully at the edges with gloved hands and avoid touching the printed area. Don’t allow the prints to be rolled or piled directly on top of each other.

For large prints, use very smooth interleaving materials (such as polyester sheeting) between the prints. On small prints, use window mats to keep the prints separate when stacked.

Do not roll prints on fine art paper because the printed side can get damaged as it comes in contact with the second side (“verso”) of print.

Allow the prints to fully dry before handling, interleaving, or framing. Blocking, ferrotyping, or spotting can occur if prints aren’t fully dry when handled or protected with interleaving sheets. Ferrotyping is the change in surface gloss that can occur when the print comes in contact with an adjacent surface under high humidity, high temperature, and high pressure. Blocking is the unintended bonding together of materials in direct contact.

Prints must be fully dry before framing. Some paper types can hold significant quantities of water from the printing inks for extended periods of time. If framed too early, the exuded moisture can elevate the humidity inside the frame package. Dry times vary depending on ink and paper chemistries and the humidity of the printing and drying environment.

Exposure to airborne gases can damage digital prints. Ozone can cause some print types to fade or yellow or embrittle the inkjet-receptive coatings on the papers. Nitrogen dioxide can induce yellowing in all prnt types and bleed in some dye inkjet prints. Low-permeable storage enclosures such as polyester sleeves can slow the rate of pollutant damage.

Storage enclosures should not pose physical or chemical threats. ISO Standard 18902 for albums, framing, and storage materials for digitally imaged materials recommends that enclosures should be free of acids, lignins, rubber adhesives, and chlorinated, plasticized, or celllulosic plastics. Enclosures should also contain minimum 2 percent alkaline reserve and pass the PAT (Photographic Activity Test).

The 2 percent alkaline reserve refers to the use of calcium-carbonate that is commonly used to neutralize the harmful effects of an acidic environment.

The PAT is a standardized test developed by the IPI to explore interactions between photographic images and the enclosures in which they are stored. The PAT is routinely used to test papers, adhesives, inks, glass and framing components, sleeving materials, labels, photo albums, scrapbooking supplies and embellishments. This test is performed on products in development as well as on materials already in use in collections.

Digital photo prints on display should be framed with glazing to physically protect the surface and to protect against pollutant exposure. The glazing should block at least 97 percent of the UV energy from the light. The mounting and framing materials should be judiciously selected and use to avoid abrasion, yellowing and bleeding. For more specific advice , see the Exhibition Guidelines for Photographic Materials published by in the Photographic Conservation Catalog of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Photographic Materials.

The IPI hasn’t studied how post-print protective sprays and liquid coatings affect the long-term preservation of the prints: “These were not included in the original DP3 Project simply because the extremely large number of possible combinations made it untenable at the time.”

Image Permanence Institute Posts a Wealth of Resources

To keep abreast of current research being conducted by the Image Permanence Institute, visit their website. In addition to linking to the Digital Print Preservation Portal, you can find other interesting resources related to sustainable preservation practices and how to identify different types of digital prints.

For example, you can visually compare the many different methods that have been used to print illustrations and photographs throughout history on IPI’s Graphics Atlas.org website. This fascinating portal illustrates how print processes have evolved from woodcuts and intaglio to electrophotography and inkjet printing.

Archival Matte Papers from Freedom Paper

Freedom Paper offers a fine selection of archival art papers from brands such as Hahnemuhle, Museo, Innova, Canon, and Moab by Legion. If the desktop or wide-format inkjet printer in your office or studio uses pigment inks for color and black-and-white images, these papers can help you make prints that can last for generations.


Image Permanence Insitute

Digital Print Preservation Portal (DP3)

PDF: IPI Guide to Preservation of Digitally Printed Photographs

DP3: Tips for Handling

DP3: Display Precautions


Creating Indoor Signs with Large Format Adhesive Papers and Vinyls

With the wide-format inkjet printer in your office and rolls of large format adhesive papers and vinyls from Freedom Paper you can create your own short-term signs for meetings, events, and promotions. The rigid sign can be wall-mounted, suspended from the ceiling, inserted in display frames, or placed in an easel.

When mounting self-adhesive papers or vinyls, use a board that has a smooth, even surface. If the mounting surface is rough (like some types of cardboard or posterboard), the adhesive won’t stick well, and the surface roughness might be visible through the graphic.

Use an opaque vinyl if you plan to mount the sign to a black or colored sign board. Otherwise, the color of the board will affect the look and legibility of your sign.

Many indoor sign boards are designed to be “dimensionally stable.” This means they won’t warp, expand, or contract when exposed to humidity or heat. If they did, it would ruin the look of your sign.

Here are few of popular mounting materials for making temporary indoor signs:

Foam Board: This lightweight material consists of a stiff inner layer of a plastic polystyrene foam (like Styrofoam) between two outer layers of a smooth, white, coated paper. Foam board is easy to cut. But it’s not waterproof and can break when flexed. It can also be punctured during handling.

Foam board is often used to mount photographic prints or as a rigid backing in picture frames. If mounted photos must last a long time, use a foam board with an acid-free paper surface.

Sheets of Foam board

PVC (polyvinylchloride) Boards: This lightweight, smooth, waterproof plastic board is sturdy enough to make indoor signs that can last for decades (with pigment inks). PVC sign boards aren’t recommended for outdoor use because they can warp when exposed to high temperatures.

Polystyrene: This economical plastic board is easy to cut, bend, and bond. It is also impact resistant and dimensionally stable. But it is not very biodegradable.

Coroplast: This tough lightweight board looks like a plastic version of corrugated cardboard. The rigidity comes from a core of parallel plastic tunnels that support two smooth plastic layers. Coroplast is a popular alternative to foam board because it isn’t as easily punctured or nicked. It’s also waterproof. It’s commonly used for single-sided or double-sided yard signs and for simple outdoor signs at one- or two-day events.

Coroplast Sheet

Eco-friendly Boards: Some rigid sign boards are made with materials that are more recyclable and biodegradable than plastics. The coated papers on the surface are either made from sustainably managed forests or with recycled papers. Some eco-friendly boards get their rigidity from geometrically structured paper cores, instead of plastic foam.

Other Considerations

Clear adhesive vinyls can be used to print signs and decals for office windows, doors, and display cases. Clear films can also be applied to acrylic (plexiglas) sheets.

If the wide-format inkjet printer in your office uses aqueous dye inks, don’t try to print permanent signage or signs that will be displayed outdoors for more than a day or two. Without the protection of a laminating film with UV filters, dye inks will quickly fade in the sunlight. The water-based dye inks can also run if the sign gets damp.

Today, most rigid signs for outdoor use are printed with flatbed inkjet printers that use UV-cure inks. These printers don’t print on adhesive vinyl media; they print graphics directly on rigid sign board.

Signs for longer-term outdoor display are typically printed on more durable sign materials such as aluminum or aluminum composite panels. The UV-cured ink forms such a hard film on the board that the prints don’t even have to be laminated to withstand the rigors of the great outdoors.

At Freedom Paper, we offer more than 30 types of self-adhesive materials for use with wide format inkjet printers.The rigid materials described above can be purchased from retailers of sign, classroom, art, office, or craft supplies.


Self-Adhesive Materials from Freedom Paper