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Experiment tests oil-based inks used for outdoor application

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The Washington, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities planned an installation displaying a wide variety of artwork in an open space awaiting construction of a new building. Along a small greenway was an artwork promenade consisting of a number of 10-foot pillars topped with angled panels measuring six feet by 24 feet. Images were printed on both the “sky” side and the “earth” side, and a simple awning was attached between each pair of units.

Knowing that neither the inks nor the fabrics were rated for outdoor use, and because the project was not expected to be permanent, the Commission agreed to join Portland Color in an experiment to test new oil-based inks for dye sublimation on polyester fabrics.

The initial design on the sun-facing panels was printed in cyan, and much to Portland Color’s surprise, the cyan faded within a few months, leaving an orange brick color. For the next phase of the installation, Portland Color recommended that the designer create an image that incorporated yellow, orange or red.

The third installation involved a change in the color, the ink, the printing process and the substrate. The final design was printed in green using standard solvents, printed direct to vinyl scrim; all of which contribute to a longer life expectancy, since the installation will likely remain in place for several months more.

Gail Nickel-Kailing, Business Strategies Etc., Seattle, Wash., provides outsourced business planning and marketing services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics.

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