View Full Version : Outgassing Problems

Gary Albertson
10-Apr-2005, 08:55
I shoot primarily 4x5, scan, and then print on an Epson 10000, often up to 30"x40" on photo paper. I archivally mat, frame, display, and sell out of my own art gallery. A disturbing thing is progressively being noticed. Some of the images have a fog in the inside of the glass gradually appearing on the prints that have been hanging in the gallery for longer periods. The tech people at Epson, though slow in agreeing, say it is definately an outgassing problem, asking me if I let the prints sit for at least 24 hours before putting behind glass. I tell them it is more like one to two weeks before they are framed. They have nothing more to say or help out in the matter. Some have said to spray the print with a fixative.....which I tested, and notice a "blotching", especially in open blue sky areas. My guess this must be a common problem, but so far, solving and ending the outgassing problem is not so common. You would think Epson would have totally researched this, offered it to its customers. Some retailers have also said the 9600 Ultrachrome printer faces the same problem. I literally have dreams at night of all these prints hanging on customer's walls, fogging up on the inside, the customer then returning it to me in a rage.....then there are all those images hanging thousands of miles away than cannot be returned.......a terrible, growing dream.

chris jordan
10-Apr-2005, 09:19
Gary, outgassing is a problem with the Ultrachrome inks. Luckily, there is a simple solution that works perfectly; here is the procedure. First, buy a roll of newsprint from a papery supplier and have it handy in your studio. The paper is greyish, and very cheap-- fifty bucks for a huge roll a thousand feet long or something. Then when you make a print, first let it dry for about an hour when it comes off the printer. Then tear off enough newsprint paper to completely cover up the image (the white borders don't matter-- only the inks outgas). Use a tube (or your hand) to smooth the newsprint paper over the image, so that it is laying totally flat against the image with no air inbetween. Laying some magazines over the top helps with that. Leave the paper there for 24 hours, then discard the newsprint (you will see that it becomes wrinkly and slightly damp feeling). Then repeat the whole process. Your print is now outgassed, and will not fog the glass when framed.

The concept is that the newsprint draws out the gasses from the inks much faster than they would escape if just exposed to air. There has been a lot of discussion about this on some other printing forums, and with the Epson people (who have done lots of testing based on our complaints), and as far as anyone knows, this procedure totally solves the outgassing. The outgassing, by the way, is caused when gasses from un-dried ink seep through the surface layer of dried ink over time, similarly to the way varnish can outgas over time when it is applied to furniture. The surface dries, but there is still wet solvent underneath that takes awhile to fully dry. I don't understand the chemistry of it, but putting newsprint (or any other kind of plain paper) on the top pulls the gasses out at a greatly accellerated rate.

As an extra precautionary measure, when I ship my prints, I cover them with one more layer of newsprint, which sits there until the person unwraps the print (might be a few days).

Good luck,



Paul Butzi
10-Apr-2005, 09:27

Any concerns about the prolonged contact of acid-laden newsprint with the surface of the print affecting the longevity of the print?


www.butzi.net (http://www.butzi.net)

bob carnie
10-Apr-2005, 10:25

This outgassing could be a very large can of worms, for the archival testing that has been done.

The same could be said of rc black and white prints, when encapsalated in a proper archival frame envinonment there has been and outgassing which causes de silvering on the image.
I never thought that this also could be a problem with inkjet prints. I have never heard of this problem and will follow this thread with interest.

Keith Laban
10-Apr-2005, 10:55
I believe that outgassing is a problem related to specific papers. As far as I know it isn't a problem on matte papers. Has anyone experienced this problem using cotton rag matte papers?


tim atherton
10-Apr-2005, 11:04
the outgassing issue is widely documented and discussed (and also acknowledged by Wilhelm, IPI in their testing) etc.

Hunt through any of the various Epson lists and you will find pages of references, discussions and solutions.

Mainly seems to be an issue with the "RC" type papers and is in part a result of the micro encapsulation of Epsons UC inks and the solvent they are suspended in.

Letting the prints "cure" before framing is supposed to be the best option. Interleave the prints with paper. The paper will go wavy as the solvent evaporates. Keep interleaving until the paper is no longer wavy. Evaporation rates seem to vary depending on local humidity etc. Living in an extremely dry location I rarely needed to let prints cure for more than 12-24 hrs if that

Some also suggest that sprays such as Printshield or Printguard help.

I've never found offgassing an issue with matte or watercolour type papers.

Bruce Watson
10-Apr-2005, 12:30
Outgassing is just one symptom caused by the ink chemistry of *any* pigment ink which includes various glycols and glycerines. These chemicals are included in the mix to make the ink flow and to lessen clogging, among other things.

Unfortunately, the various glycols and glycerines tend to evaporate slowly from the print (RC or watercolor paper). Very slowly. They'll still be on the print long after the water has gone and the print "feels" dry. Automotive antifreeze is mostly ethylene glycol. Have you ever seen how long it takes for an antifreeze spill to dry - even in the summer? That's what I'm talking about.

Epson has recognized the problem (that is, outgassing causing a fog on the inside of the glazing of framed prints) with their Ultrachrome inks. IIRC, they recommend letting the prints dry for at least 24 hours, then stacking them with an absorbent paper interleaved which they claim acts like "sponge" to "soak up" the outgassing chemicals. I forget how long you're supposed to leave your prints in this "sandwhich." Given the nature of glycols and glycerines in general, I find this sandwich idea difficult to believe. But... if it works for you, then it works for you.

The thing I find effective is a hand held hair dryer. Heat and air movement are most effective in driving off glycols. Besides smelling the chemicals as they are driven off, you can watch the gamut increase a bit, and Dmax improve. You can in particular watch Dmax improve when you are drying grayscale pigments on matte papers. It's like peeling pack a veil between you and the image.

Bruce Watson
10-Apr-2005, 14:48
I forgot to add that this problem has been discussed in depth in the Yahoo Epson Wide Format (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EpsonWideFormat/) group. Big long thread about a year ago. The archives are a pain to search, but the information is there - lots of alternative ways to solve the problem, etc.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
10-Apr-2005, 15:37
What is the humidity in your gallery. Could it be that moisture is being drawn back in? probebly not but, just a thought. John

Leonard Metcalf
10-Apr-2005, 17:22
I use cotton rag paper (Innova Museum) in an Epson 7600. I leave them unframed as long as possible, and have never had a problem. I try to avoid framing in the first 24 - 48 hours. It is one of the reason's chose to use the cotton rag paper. It seems to be less of a problem with porous papers as opposed to the plasitic ones.