Allion Test Labs, Inc., a company that verifies product quality and interoperability of PCs and PC peripherals including printers, has compared and evaluated color fading of photos inkjet-printed using printer manufacturers' genuine ink and other manufacturers' refill ink, respectively. Allion did not disclose the relationship between the evaluation results and each ink manufacturer's name, but only revealed it targeted two printers respectively from Seiko Epson Corp. and Cannon Inc. The tests proved genuine ink lasts longer than refill ink, at least in terms of color fading. Allion was contracted to do this color fading evaluation service as a third-party, impartial verification institute.
Allion conducted accelerated gas resistance tests using three kinds of gases that cause printed color to fade, namely ozone (O3), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (SOx). As a result of tests using the two major Japanese printer manufacturers' products, no remarkable color fading was recognized in print using these printer manufacturers' genuine ink and paper after an acceleration test that results in aging equivalent to five years. In contrast, color obviously started to fade in print using refill ink and genuine paper, even in tests resulting in aging equivalent to one year.
At present, printer manufacturers cite a longer life after printing as a superiority of their genuine ink products like Seiko Epson's "Tsuyo-ink (strong-ink) 200" and Canon's "ChromaLife100." Printer manufacturers insist their printers can exert their real performance only when using genuine ink and paper optimized for the printer. On the other hand, refill ink manufacturers, across the board, stress their products can render quality prints comparable to those using genuine ink.
The color fading evaluation focused on three factors: light resistance that represents degradation of a photo in a frame exposed to light inside the room, album conservation (dark room conservation) efficiency tested by using a dark room to recreate degradation of photos kept in an album and gas resistance. Of these three factors, Allion varied the conditions by manufacturer in the gas resistance test. Allion employed conditions equivalent to those for Canon's in-house tests this time. The conditions were as follows: The Institute of Image Electronics Engineers of Japan's "N1A.tif" standard image was used as the test image and each printer manufacturer's printer and genuine paper were combined with each different manufacturer's ink. Then switching only ink, Allion evaluated differences between genuine ink and refill ink products. O3, NOx and SOx gas densities in the accelerated gas resistance tests were set at 150, 900 and 50 ppb, respectively, 100x the densities in a normal, real environment. The test temperature was 24 degrees and the humidity was 60%.
Under these conditions, aging equivalent to that of one year in real life can be tested in 72 hours. A difference between color fastness test conditions defined by the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee (JIS) was the gas added throughout the tests. Suga Test Instrument Co., Ltd.'s "DS-UV" was deployed as a gas corrosion test instrument. If mixed gas is not injected, gas density on the photo surface lowers due to chemical reaction progress during a test. In real environment, however, surface gas density scarcely varies like accelerated tests. To stabilize gas density, gas needs to be injected. JIS standards employ conditions assuming an environment, in which gas density gradually lowers. JIS, therefore, requires testers to set gas density higher than the level Allion applied this time.
In tests using Seiko Epson's printer, temperature and humidity were set the same as those in tests using Canon's printer, but color fading was evaluated with gas containing no O3. Of element colors, O3 tends to cause fading of magenta in particular.