Acrylic Alternative
February 25, 2007 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Can I seal inkjet prints without polluting the air and killing my lungs/brain cells?

Inkjet prints are great, but if I spill so much as a drop of water on them or touch them they run and quickly turn into garbage. Some of them even stick to the glass on the insides of frames over time. I can solve this problem by sealing them with a clear acrylic sealer (available at any art supply store) which works wonderfully. The only problem is that the spray stinks to high heaven and is dangerous to inhale, so I have to do it outside.

Is there anything that doesn't smell terrible and that I can brush on that will protect my prints as well as (or almost as well as) clear acrylic sealer?
posted by ostranenie to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They sell odorless fixatives but the bottom line (you'll see the first link of that search is a warning not to equate odorless with safety) is that a volatile solvent is sort of par for the course: it is the only way to suspend a resin while making sure it dries reasonably quickly.

As far as I can tell there are no very low VOC fixatives. Most low VOC coatings are water-based which I imagine would be totally inappropriate for an art fixative use.
posted by nanojath at 8:33 PM on February 25, 2007

You could laminate the prints, though this will increase the reflectivity.
posted by polyglot at 8:58 PM on February 25, 2007

If you get yourself an Epson Stylus C43, C63 or C83 inkjet printer, you will find that the pigment-based inks they use are completely waterproof. You can drop your piccies in the bath and they won't run at all.

The Epsons are good printers provided you keep them busy. Leave them idle for two weeks, though, and they clog like bastards and are bloody near impossible to unclog.
posted by flabdablet at 11:34 PM on February 25, 2007

I don't have any advice on the fixatives, but HP is coming out with a new line of printers that use pigment ink (link is to the press release). Supposedly, they will be selling the ink for 1/2 the price of standard ink-jet ink, and compensate by selling more expensive (and hopefully higher quality) printers to use them. Something to consider.
posted by Void_Ptr at 7:40 AM on February 26, 2007

In a pinch I've used hairspray (Elnett) to stop a print from running which doesn't smell too bad, as hairsprays go.
posted by essexjan at 10:25 AM on February 26, 2007

spray acrylic doesn't smell too awful, but i still wouldn't use it indoors. and because it's waterbased, not shellac-based (like hairspray, for instance), you'll have to apply it in light coats to make sure the image doesn't bleed. and you won't be able to, like, submerge the print in water, but it will be much more resillient than an unfixed print.

i know that sounds like a lot of detractions, but it's the least fumy fixative i've ever worked with.
posted by wreckingball at 12:47 PM on February 26, 2007

google for paper mod podge?
It's water based so maybe test a light brush on first to see but your best bet I think is an upgrade in printer.
Look at some of the colorfast ones recommended above or check out dye-sub printers - they are pretty much indistinguishable from lab quality prints.
posted by clanger at 7:13 PM on February 26, 2007

Scroll down to MicroGlaze
posted by polyglot at 9:42 PM on March 2, 2007

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