News & Events

History of Lightfastness and Ink Jet Photo Printing

Since the introduction of the first Epson Stylus Colour printer in 1994, Epson's goal has been to improve our printers to the point that prints would have the image quality of traditional silver halide photos. With the introduction of the Epson Stylus PHOTO 1200 printer in 1998, many professionals felt we had achieved or surpassed that goal.

While Epson has rapidly advanced its Micro Piezo printing technology to set new standards for photographic print quality, lightfastness (the resistance of prints to light induced fading) posed a technological challenge. Our research department began working on this issue in 1994, and introduced two solutions, one with archival Colorfast Ink for professional applications and one with dye-based photo inks. The new Epson Stylus PHOTO printers produced prints on photo papers with greatly improved lightfastness. Tremendous excitement was generated among photo enthusiasts when this new technology was introduced to the market. A digitally produced, gallery-ready print would now last for many years when properly stored or displayed.

Epson's leading edge improvements in lightfastness generated a greater focus by Epson and others on other potential causes of colour shifts. The effects of ozone and similar contaminants on ink jet prints have not been well understood because ink jet prints were previously so susceptible to light induced fading. Epson is now vigorously investigating the effects of ozone and other contaminants so that we can offer users even longer lasting, more durable photo prints.

Epson's latest line of Epson Stylus PHOTO printers have justifiably been received as innovative products that offer the best available solution for desktop photo printing. With the information provided above, you can produce lightfast prints to enjoy for many years with proper display or storage.

For the professional photographer, the Epson Stylus PHOTO 2000P and the Pro Graphics range offered revolutionary levels of durability and lightfastness up to 200 years. Testing has thus far found far less fading issues associated with high ozone levels with these archival ColorFast Ink prints.

The latest generation of Epson PHOTO Printers, the Epson Stylus PHOTO 2100, offers new UltraChrome Ink. This offers increased pigment density for a wider range of media support. This pigment colourant delivers excellent light and gas fastness because it exists in the particle, so only the surface is affected by light and gas, and the colour inside remains vivid.

Epson's latest breakthrough technology is the innovative Epson DURABrite INK. This unique ink ensures prints on plain and specialty paper are smudge-resistant, water-resistant and fade resistant. Resisting the ravages of ultraviolet light is one of DURABrite INK's strongest features. Epson accelerated tests have shown that documents and photographs printed with DURABrite INK last up to 80 years* on Epson Matte Paper - Heavyweight. DURABrite INK also withstands the damages of airborne contaminants. A further development down the path of improving durability of prints.

But again, no matter what inkset you choose, for indoor display Epson recommends that prints be framed under glass to protect prints from atmospheric contaminants (such as cigarette smoke) that will damage any paper print over years of display.