In the midst of paradigm changes in how ink jet materials are now being tested for light stability (otherwise known as fade), Piezography Carbon (formerly Piezography Sepia) inks are quietly proving (so far!) to be the most fade-resistant inks ever tested at the Aardenburg archives at the 70 megalux point. Piezography Carbon inks have reached the 70 megalux point at a near perfect state. 70 megalux of exposure to light is equivalent to 70 years of normal display. The Epson K3 ABW system arrived at only 20 megalux in a near perfect state but has since been decaying at a very steady rate. It’s unimaginable as to how long Piezography Carbon ink is going to be rated if it has not yet begun to decay at the 70 megalux point.

UPDATE: 160 megalux and completely unfazed…

We can suppose that we should not expect less from pure, unmodified carbon pigment when comparing it to the OEM’s black & white ink jet systems that use color pigments in combination with black pigments. Epson invests millions of dollars annually in ink research and technology. Piezography Carbon inks were developed by a small Vermont based boutique-ink company that specializes in environmentally safe ink jet practices. It’s an amazing accomplishment really. While we can not yet build better color ink systems than Epson, Canon and HP’s huge R&D departments, we can quietly build a significantly better black & white system. Actually, I’ve been doing this since 2002 when I first introduced the PiezoTone Carbon Sepia pigments.

In 2005, we began to encapsulate the carbon pigment particle to completely eliminate head clogging due to agglomeration. And when Epson released three blacks, we divide carbon black into six shades to increase the image fidelity to a much further standard than did Epson. A year later we added a seventh shade because we found that we could raise the bar to a level that would remain unchallenged for years to come. Still, Piezography Carbon is not our best selling ink. The trend perhaps is not necessarily to warm inks.

I am very proud of the results being achieved by one of my concoctions. Piezography Carbon inks are scoring a nearly perfect result with a deltaE change less than a third of that of the Epson ABW comparison. Using the latest i*metric light stability testing technology developed by Mark McCormick-Goodhart of Aardenburg Archives & Imaging the results between these two inks are beginning to contrast sharply. Epson ABW is now in a predictable downward spiral while Piezography Carbon remains quite stable.

All things being the same (similar paper, similar amount of illumination, similar color tone in the starting ink sample), this direct comparison between Piezography Carbon and Epson K3 ABW (sepia toned) shows how a small third-party ink company from Vermont can produce both a superior quality ink and an imaging idea that exceeds the capabilities of the original equipment manufacturer (otherwise known as the OEM).

In brief, Piezography Carbon inks in 70 megalux of exposure have scored 99.9% (near perfect!) in color retention and 97.5% in density retention while Epson ABW sepia tone have scored 96.6% and 96.4% respectively. An “average scores above 90% generally indicates excellent retention of original quality, 80% good, 70% fair, etc”. But, the Epson ABW inks have been dropping nearly a full point with every 10 megalux of exposure. While the test is ongoing until a useful endpoint is reached, the Aardenburg methodology takes measurements and publishes results the equivalent of every 10 megalux of exposure.

Piezography Carbon K6 and K7 inks are pure 100% carbon. Unlike Epson ABW which mixes color and black ink, Piezography Carbon uses six or seven shades of 100% pure carbon and produces a very stable photographic print. For those who use the StudioPrint RIP, we still make a four shade version of the ink called PiezoTone CarbonSepia. Both versions of this ink appear to be bullet proof at Aardenburg, even considering how light the dilutions are in the set with more shades.

You can actually download the reports yourself and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge yourself by becoming a subscribing member of the Aardenburg Imaging and Archives. it is only $25.00 for an annual subscription and countless tests of inks and media are in progress already.

The reports include “I* metric scores that compare the color and tonal relationships of the light exposed samples to the color and tonal relationships existing in the original print prior to light exposure.

But first, before we get on to the exciting stuff (Light stability testing) a little read about Piezography Carbon inks is here…