Access to IPI's Free Online Digital Print Identification Tool

In our studies of digitally printed materials and their responses to various forces of decay, we found that each of the processes, and some of the sub-categories of the primary technologies, behave in unique ways. Because of this it will be very important that collection care personnel be able to identify the particular materials they have in their collections.

The DP3 Project website includes a free interactive tool designed to help users understand basic digital print identification. This Digital Print Identification Tool is based on the same imaging techniques found in IPI’s Graphics Atlas site. Drop down menus allow you to select different digital print processes for comparison against other digital prints processes or traditional prints. The tool box at the bottom of the page then allows the prints to be compared at full size or at various levels of magnification. The angle of light on the samples can also be varied to allow for examination of print properties such as gloss and texture. The cross-section button allows viewing of the multi-layered structures of prints. Below each print type is a list of “What to Notice”, which highlights the most distinguishing characteristics of that process.

Digital Print Identification Tool

This tool is just the first step—IPI's research has also shown that people who utilize more than one method to learn print ID (such as the online tool, print sample sets, workshops, etc.) develop a much greater ability to accurately identify different print types.

IPI is committed to continuing our study of the preservation of digitally printed materials in cultural heritage collections. This includes the continued education of the field to ensure that they have the right knowledge and skills to ensure the long-term survivability of these materials. Through our experimental work, the development of care recommendations, and the publication and presentation of the results to the field, the potential for damage to this portion of our nation’s growing cultural heritage collection is being significantly reduced. Without support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this important work on digital print preservation would not be possible.