Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How Long do Inkjet Prints Last?

These inkjet prints are 26 years old!

Also in this issue:

  • Announcements
  • Come join me on an African Photo Safari!  November, 2024
  • The Amazing Mark Stewart

How Long do Inkjet Prints Last?

We all know the popularly-held wisdom: Inkjet prints will fade.  Maybe they'll last 5 years, whether behind glass or not.  The only way to get lasting inkjet print is to use pigment-based inks (along with special papers) which are quite expensive but can last up to 100 years.

That's conventional wisdom.  Now let me share with you my own data point: I have framed and displayed inkjet prints dating back from 1997, and their colors are still strong - I estimate they faded perhaps 3% over the years.

What ancient printer produced such astounding and expectation-busting results?  It was HP's very first photo printer, the PhotoSmart (tm).  HP was a pioneer in inkjet technology, coming out with the very first ThinkJet (THermal INKJET) printer in 1984 as a quiet, lightweight printing technology for their portable computers.  In 1997 they produced the first printer that could actually make images that looked and felt like real photos (right down to the glossy surface and the thick paper stock) for a whopping $500, cheap by high-end printer standards of the day.  And of course I bought one.