Project Description

IPI’s DP3 Project has consisted of several grant-funded initiatives since 2007 each including its own multiple lines of study. Below are descriptions of the work performed, or currently underway, in each:

The DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal (2007)

This project launched the initial laboratory research effort to characterize the strengths and special vulnerabilities of the major digital print technologies and a parallel effort to create a web resource to communicate those findings. The first step was to expose samples representing the wide variety of digital print types to environmental and use stresses according to the same methodologies that have proven so successful with traditional materials: heat, light, pollution, and moisture. From the resulting data, generalizations about the sensitivities of the materials to decay could be derived. The second step was to design and build the unique website, The DP3 Project: the Digital Print Preservation Portal, to communicate the project outcomes as well as associated information useful for the care of digital prints. This project was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal (Part II) - Evaluations of the Effects of Housing, Handling, and Flood on Modern Digital Prints (2007)

This project expanded the above research into several additional key areas of concern for the preservation for digital prints in libraries and museums. These new investigations focused on the effects of housing and display materials on digital prints, effects of handling, and minimizing the risk of damage due to flood. The final results of the project were a set of recommendations for housing and displaying digital prints, cautions regarding print handling, and an assessment of the risk of damage to digital prints in the event of flood, all results were published on The DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal website. This project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Pollution Damage Mitigation for Inkjet Printed Materials in Museum Collections (2010)

The research in this study is aimed at determining which will be the better approach to mitigating the damage to inkjet prints by pollutants, lowered-temperature storage or enclosures. A 2009 IPI survey found that approximately 80% of cultural heritage institutions currently have inkjet prints in their collections and that objectionable deterioration to many of these objects has already occurred including fading, yellowing, color bleed, surface cracking and delamination. In total, 71% of institutions have already experienced deterioration in their digital print collections. In previous experimental research IPI was able to establish a clear connection between ozone and nitrogen dioxide to each of those forms of decay. Understanding and utilizing the most effective methods to mitigate such damage will be critical to the survival of these objects. This project is being funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Continuation of Studies into the Preservation of Digitally Printed Materials in Cultural Heritage Institutions (2011)

The first two projects were successful in determining the general types of environmental and handling risks that threaten digitally printed materials in cultural heritage collections. From the data gathered it was learned that airborne pollutants, light, high humidity, abrasive or chemically reactive enclosures, poor handling techniques, and flood pose the greatest threats to these modern materials. However, these experiments were not able to sufficiently quantify the specific levels of stress that would initiate objectionable/irreversible damage. Finding these exact amounts will be critical to establishing the best practices institutions need in order to preserve this growing portion of their collection assets. This project extends the experimental work of the previous studies to establish the following:

  • The appropriate storage temperatures to prevent the decay of digital printing colorants
  • The absolute ceiling limits for temperature, humidity, and time combinations to prevent colorant bleed
  • The minimum levels of force, surface roughness, and usage cycles to induce abrasion and scratching of prints in stacks, in various common enclosures, and during handling
  • The best practices for framing and displaying digitally printed objects to prevent fade, yellowing, and light-induced delamination

The project will also move past the study of individual prints and begin investigation into the long-term keeping of bound digitally printed materials such as periodicals and books. Additionally, advanced non-destructive print identification techniques are being developed so that collection care personnel will be able to differentiate the various print types and bound materials in order to meet each object’s individual care needs. This project is being funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery for Inkjet Printed Materials in Museum Collections (2013)

This project is intended to develop proper response and recovery strategies for inkjet prints exposed to water emergencies. Institutional personnel do not have the information or training to respond to damage to inkjet prints caused by flood or other unintended exposures to water. Many inkjet prints are considerably more sensitive to water damage than traditional prints, and some inkjet print types can also significantly harm adjacent materials during water disasters. Earlier research suggests that inkjet prints when wet can be prone to high levels of dye bleed, dissolution of paper coatings, cracking or delamination of surface layers, blocking, ferrotyping, etc. While preliminary work has been done to rank the relative sensitivities of these materials and evaluate some potential methods for drying them post immersion, a full understanding of how the materials will behave during different water emergency scenarios, from small spills to prolonged full immersions, as well as exposure to sustained damp conditions, has yet to be performed. This project is intended to fill that knowledge gap and provide collection care personnel with the information and tools they need: first, to minimize risk of damage; second, to respond most efficiently during the event; and third, to retrieve and stabilize exposed materials following such unfortunate events. This project is being funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Digital Print Preservation Education and Training  (2014)

The goal of this Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project is to educate and train collection care professionals in libraries, archives, and museums on the proper identification and care of digitally-printed collection materials. Over the last seven years, IPI has gained significant experience studying the stability and preservation of these objects through its Mellon- and IMLS-funded Digital Print Preservation Portal (DP3) projects. The purpose of this new effort is to extend the value of that earlier work by communicating the findings to the preservation community. The project includes workshops at IPI, regional conservation centers, conservation training programs in universities, as well as through direct interaction with collection care staff during onsite visits to specific libraries and museums across the country. It also includes updates to the DP3 Project website, continuation of the DP3 Newsletter, and reporting on advances in the technology of modern printing to keep the field up to date on where both fine art printing and publishing are heading in the future.