Why Do Inks Fade?

Printer inks use pigments to color surfaces. The quality of ink varies with the combination of pigments, dyes, lubricants, resins, and other chemical materials used in creating the ink.

Usually, these inks are projected to have great resistance to fading, rub resistance, and color vibrancy. They are used in a number of industries.

Inks are used to print text documents, images, and designs. Anyone who needs to get a point across visually, and wishes to opt for the hard copy instead of digital visualization, finds Canon printer inks to be extremely useful.

The printing surface can vary based on usage and can be paper, cloth, plastic, cardboard, or anything. Whether you wish to print a business report or a large billboard, you will usually need good-quality ink to get the best results. You may also want to use genuine ink for your particular printer (like Brother TN-243CMYK cartridges for Brother inkjet printers) to produce high-quality prints that are fade-resistant.

In modern art and design, inks are being used in an unorthodox and creative manner. Artists even use body painting as a form of self expression. While people love to use the phrase “print is dead” in everyday conversation, the reality of advertising is far from it.

Why Do Inks Fade?
Everything in life does not last forever. Typical inks and toners fade over a period of time. Most people usually relate the fading to the overall quality of printer ink being used, but fading depends on a number of factors.

Ultraviolet Damage
Printer ink fades when exposed to ultra violet (UV) rays of light. The fading occurs as a result of oxidization. Now we all know that sunlight contains UV rays, so if the ink is exposed to ordinary sunlight for long periods of time, it will fade.

Light other than UV rays can also cause printer inks to fade but at a much slower rate. Ink manufacturers are well aware of this fact and use fadeometers to test (PDF link) the quality of their ink. The tests are conducted in a controlled environment where the ink is exposed to high intensity light, and the ink’s durability is measured in hours.

Other factors that affect fading include the pigments used in the ink, the heat and humidity of the area, and the surface on which the ink is applied. A more absorbent surface can reduce the rate of fading.

A Simple Test
If you wish to test your printer ink for resistance to fading, simply print out a uniformly colored image on a piece of paper and put it up at a place where it is exposed to natural light. Cover half of the paper up so that only half of it is exposed to the light, the other half will serve as a measuring stick.

Remove the covering after a month and see the difference between the exposed and the protected half. If you want, you may also prolong the time period of this test.

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