Wilhelm Imaging Research's New Certified Image Permanence Testing Program and Seal Standardize Results to Better Inform the Customer

GRINNELL, Iowa--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 20, 2005--Responding to the worldwide need for uniform test methods to evaluate and rate the permanence of digitally printed photographs, the leading independent image stability testing laboratory, Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. (WIR), today announced the establishment of the WIR Image Permanence Testing Program and WIR Test Certification Seals that will be awarded to qualified papers, inks, and printers.

To qualify for use of the seal, a product must have a minimum WIR Display Permanence Rating of 25 years and a WIR Album/Dark Storage Rating at least equal to the display rating. Complete results and details of WIR test methods are available at www.wilhelm-research.com. Updated information, including ratings for ozone resistance, resistance to high humidity during display and storage, and water resistance will be posted on the WIR website as data becomes available.

Leading printer manufacturers Epson, HP, and Lexmark have been awarded the first certification seals for use with selected products. The seals will be shown at the Photo Marketing Association International (PMAI) Convention in Orlando, Florida, February 20-23, 2005. Other companies are expected to qualify for the WIR Certification program in the near future.

"HP strongly supports the use of the new Wilhelm Imaging Research Certification Seal as an industry standard for image permanence," said Pradeep Jotwani, senior vice president, Imaging and Printing Supplies Organization of HP. "We've been impressed with WIR's commitment to stringent, credible permanence testing, and the seal will enable customers to make meaningful comparisons between products and brands, and will ultimately eliminate confusion."

"Photographs are among people's most valued possessions, but with so many differences in the photographic materials available, understanding how long they will last is complicated," said Greg McCoy, senior product manager, Professional Media and Supplies, Epson America, Inc. "WIR gives valuable, unbiased comparative print permanence data based on uniform, rigorous test criteria that photographers of all levels can use to make informed choices about the photographic materials with which they print their precious memories or stake their professional reputations."

The display permanence ratings, album/dark storage permanence ratings, and ozone resistance ratings of the many inkjet ink and paper combinations offered to consumers varies over a wide range - from truly excellent to extremely poor. Permanence ratings also differ greatly among brands of traditional silver-halide prints and dye-sub prints.

While several major manufacturers rely on WIR for permanence data, some companies have used their own, proprietary test methods as the basis for image permanence claims for their printers, inks, and papers, which prevents meaningful comparisons between their products and other brands. In addition, a great majority of third-party and store-label inks and papers provide no image permanence information, leaving consumers with many unanswered questions about this critical - but initially invisible - aspect of total product quality.

"WIR's rigorous image permanence test methods and specifications provide consumers with 'apples-to-apples' comparisons on a wide range of inks and photo papers, much like the government-mandated fuel economy ratings relied upon by people shopping for a new car," said Henry Wilhelm, president of Wilhelm Imaging Research. "Imagine the chaos that would exist if every car manufacturer had its own, proprietary test method for fuel economy claims for its vehicles. That is exactly the situation the photography industry has been facing without uniform permanence testing standards."

At present there are no standards available from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the American National Standards Institute the (ANSI) for testing the image permanence of digitally printed photographs. According to Wilhelm, "We have been an active member of ANSI and ISO standards committees for more than 25 years, and we strongly support the development of global testing standards. When such standards do become available, WIR will be among the first to apply them to product testing. But consumers need meaningful permanence data now, and the WIR testing certification program is designed to meet that need."

Photography has always been about preserving a moment, a special memory, or a loved one's face in time, and consumers care very much about how long their valued photographs will last. Consumers want objective permanence information to help them decide which products to buy. When consumers see a WIR certification seal on a package or in an advertisement, they will be reassured in knowing that the product has been tested according to WIR's rigorous test methods - and that detailed permanence data for the product are available at www.wilhelm-research.com.

About Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc.

Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. (xwww.wilhelm-research.com) has for over 35 years conducted research on the stability and preservation of traditional and digitally printed color and black-and-white photographs and motion pictures. A major activity of WIR is the development of improved accelerated image permanence tests and advanced, full tonal scale, colorimetric analysis methods for the fading and staining that occurs with color and B&W photographic images over time. As an independent testing laboratory, WIR publishes brand name-specific, comparative permanence data for desktop and large-format inkjet printers and other digital printing devices. WIR has provided standardized test data to many of the world's leading imaging and photographic companies, including Canon, Epson, Fuji, HP, Lexmark, and others.

Wilhelm Imaging Research also provides consulting services to museums, archives, and commercial collections on sub-zero cold storage for the long-term preservation of still photographs and motion pictures.

President and co-founder of the company, Henry Wilhelm appears frequently as a speaker on inkjet printing technologies and print permanence at industry conferences, trade shows, and museum conservation meetings. His 744-page book, "The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs: Traditional and Digital Color Prints, Color Negatives, Slides, and Motion Pictures" is a standard reference in the field. The complete book, originally published in 1993, may be downloaded at no charge from www.wilhelm-research.com.