View Full Version : Use dry mount process for ink-jet and c-prints???

Brad Rippe
25-Sep-2012, 16:20

I've searched the forum, and have come up with conflicting info. I have some color ink-jet and c-prints to mount, and was wondering how you do it. I tried dry mounting with a heated press with mixed results; the release paper sometimes leaves a pattern on the print, and sometimes sticks to the print. Using a mounting board directly on the print also leaves a pattern. One local framer I've spoken with uses a spray (seems like a disaster waiting to happen), and another uses an adhesive backed cold mount system that requires an expensive roller machine.
I've also tried using archival tape at the top of the print, but waves form in the print surface. The size varies, but mostly 11 by 14 in prints, some 16 by 20. Any ideas?



Drew Wiley
25-Sep-2012, 16:28
For prints 16x20 or smaller you can try 3M PMA (positionable mounting adhesive). This is
a dry sheet which you attach to the print via light pressure, then mount to the board.
You can reposition it if needed, but then apply strong pressure for a permanent bond using
something like a handheld formica roller. Working with permanent hi-tack acrylic films is a
lot trickier, and you need an appropriate machine. You can buy precoated sheets from
Oregon Laminations, and possibly do small prints with a hand roller, that is, if you've had
previous experience with things like formica and contact cement. In any event, practice
first with scrap prints. No forgiveness whatsoever! PMA is safer, but a less reliable bond.
I think you already discovered why drymounting is less than satisfactory for most color prints.

25-Sep-2012, 17:58
I use PMA, after struggling with dry mounting via my heated press. PMA is easy to deal with. Amazon has it too.

Joel Truckenbrod
25-Sep-2012, 19:12
Is 3m PMA archival? I haven't really been able to find anything regarding its longevity or if could discolor prints in time.

25-Sep-2012, 19:24
I've used 3M Photo Mount spray for RC prints and Cibachromes up to 11x14 with only slight lifting in the corners after 25-35 years--these are invisible if framed behind a mat board. And I detect no effect on the print after that time.

For 16x20, I would probably spray both the print and the mount board. The stuff works like a contact cement, which means you allow it to become tacky before pressing the print in place. Spraying both surfaces increases the bond.

I have also just taped the top edge of inkjet prints and allowed them to hang, using 3M Photo Mounting tape. The trick to avoid pulling a wrinkle is to not stretch the tape at all when apply it, and to apply a single strip and not separated sections of tape. I hold the tape by both ends, and let the middle of the strip sag down onto the edge I'm fastening. I then just lower the ends down without applying any tension to the tape, and then press it in place. If you apply no tension when applying the tape, it won't pull a wrinkle into the print or cause the board to warp. I just tape one edge (the top) and let the mat board do the rest of the work of holding the print in place. This has worked better for me than whatever the frame shops do, which I've found sometimes leaves a pattern.

Rick "who has never liked using a heated press for plastic-based materials" Denney

Drew Wiley
26-Sep-2012, 11:50
3M Spraymount is marketed for temporary or casual use only. It's one of the least reliable
methods of long-term attachment statistically; and it's pretty damn unhealthy to breathe.
I wouldn't touch the stuff outside a true spray booth. I don't think any adhesive foil is going to call itself archival either, simply due to liability issues with commercial display work, which is often under abusive conditions. With PMA the permanence is related to the
print size, nature of the print vs mount, i.e., expansion/contraction stresses on a relatively
weak bond. A stable backing and relatively small print will give the best results. There are
no chemical issues in terms of being "archival". Spray adhesives are a different story.

26-Sep-2012, 21:09
I don't know the "archival" properties of the 3M PMA, but in the most basic definition of archival - being reversible - it certainly is not. I have not seen any evidence of discoloration over about 4 years, though that is hardly long term. But it is 1000 times more convenient than spray adhesive (OK, that could possibly be a small exaggeration). I use the 3M PMA for prints up to about 16x20, which, IIRC, is about the size limit that 3M recommends. Very easy to use without specialized tools. I get mine in rolls from Amazon, as Vinny mentioned. They seem to have about the best prices.


Brad Rippe
27-Sep-2012, 11:56
Thanks everyone,
I'll give the PMA a try. Wish me luck!

Mike Anderson
27-Sep-2012, 12:58
Thanks everyone,
I'll give the PMA a try. Wish me luck!

The thing to be careful of, is that after the adhesive is applied to the photo, and you handle the photo, you can get the adhesive on your finger tips - at that point be very careful not to touch the face of the photo with your contaminated fingers.

I would lightly set the photo in place then go wash my hands. Maybe there's a trick to setting it in place without getting any adhesive on your fingers but I never figured it out.

John Olsen
27-Sep-2012, 13:08
I've been using Bienfang (formerly Seal) Buffer Mount with double sided Bienfang release paper. I sandwich the print and mount between 4 ply mount boards in the press. Set the press for 170 degrees F and give it about 100 seconds. Just be sure to clean your mounting space carefully and be attentive for dust, beard hairs, etc in setting up the sandwich. It works for me.

Drew Wiley
27-Sep-2012, 13:08
The silver bullet is if someone made surgical gloves out of either teflon or silicone, but I haven't been able to find any except thick clumsy oven gloves. Film cleaner will get the
sticky goo off anything, but is probably not very healthy for your skin etc. But PMA is way
easier in this respect than any hi-tack adhesive.

Joseph Dickerson
27-Sep-2012, 13:42
At school we use a dry mount press for C prints and inkjet prints almost with no problems. Occasionally a student will decide that turning the heat way up will make the press heat faster, this approach often has the predictable outcome. :rolleyes:

The key with inkjet prints is to let the print "cure" for at least 24 to 48 hours before subjecting it to any heat. RC papers want a little less temperature than fiber based or they will tend to bubble. I can look up the temps we use if you'd like.

For my own work I prefer to over (window) mat the prints and use archival print corners, I used to get them from Light Impressions but will probably have to find another source next time I run low. This method also has the advantage of allowing the mats to be reused if I get tired of the images. I should mention that I always use a heavy weight paper if I'm going to display the prints.


27-Sep-2012, 14:03
I can look up the temps we use if you'd like.

I would be interested. Thank you in advance.