How Long Will My Inkjet Prints Last

Desktop color printers were not initially meantto produce fade-resistant, color-fast pictures. However, we are now outputting some of our most precious memories and even expensive works of digital art using them. So, the longevity of those prints has become a major issue.

As a rule, unless you use special archival inks and paper, your photos will fade, and the colors will change—some as quickly as within a couple of months. Also, many inks, especially those used in cheaper and dual-purpose models, are actually water soluble and can smear.

Archival inks and paper cost more, may not be quite as bright and brilliant as regular inks and papers, and in any event are available for only some printers. But they have been rated to last as long as 50 to 100 years. In fact, the archival media used bythe Epson Stylus 4000 and similar devices is being used by galleries for signed works of art that are sold for investment purposes as well as for their intrinsic beauty. Other manufacturers offer archival technologies, though they may use other terms for it. Look for substantiated claims of longevity on the packaging and marketing materials. But, as with all print media, specific archival inks and paper will work only with matching printers that were designed to use them.

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