A University Products How-To Tip: Encapsulation

One of the safest, most effective means of protecting a document from harm is through encapsulation. Encapsulation allows you to view and handle a document without exposing it to hazardous elements. The process involves the positioning of a flat document between two pieces of polyester film that are then sealed on all sides.

Clear Plastic Films
There are a variety of clear plastic films on the market. Some contain plasticizers or surface coatings that are inappropriate for encapsulation. They can and will react with the items they come in contact with, doing more harm than good. If you are planning to encapsulate, be certain you are using inert polyester. The material you choose should be free of plasticizers, or surface coatings of any kind.

Sealing
Sealing the polyester also involves specific methods and materials. Heat sealing and ultrasonic welding equipment is available for adhesive-free sealing of polyester. However, the price tag for this type of equipment may be prohibitive for the average collector. The alternative is to use a double sided pressure sensitive tape. The tape should feature a stable acrylic adhesive such as 3M’s No. 415 Polyester Transparent Tape.

Pre-Formed Encapsulation
An alternative to buying expensive equipment or using adhesive tape is to purchase pre-formed encapsulation units. They are available in sizes and styles that will accommodate items of just about any size. If you plan on encapsulating a small quantity of items, this may be the most economical and time saving approach. Should you choose this route, be sure, once again, that the encapsulation units you purchase are made from an inert polyester.

Research has shown that encapsulation can increase the rate of deterioration of an acidic document. A qualified conservator can determine if a document is acidic and also perform a deacidification treatment if it is required.

Besides the protection factor encapsulation provides, static electricity inherent in polyester film will hold a document in place. Worn and fragile documents benefit greatly from this static charge since it helps hold torn pages together. The downside is the same charge will attract some mediums, such as charcoal or pastels, away from the document. A qualified conservator can determine if a particular document should or should not be encapsulated.

Once an item is determined to be safe for encapsulation, and the procedure is complete, your document is safe from dirt, pollution and fingerprints. Encapsulation will not, however, protect your autographed document from the hazards of ultraviolet light, and temperature and humidity extremes. Your encapsulated document should be stored out of the light in a climate controlled environment. Ideally, it should be stored flat in an archival quality box.

Archival Photo Storage: Choosing The Best Enclosure

Your valuable photo collection is vulnerable to dangerous threats including environmental contaminants, water, fingerprint oils and PVC plastics. archival quality photo storage box drop front blackWe have products and solutions to protect and preserve your photos for many years to come. University Products offers a wide variety of archival photo products that will help you with your photo restoration and preservation projects.

Included in these products is our line of custom archival boxes that have passed the Image Permanence Institute’s Photo Activity Test. The Photo Activity Test (PAT) evaluates photo-storage and display materials and how they interact with photographic materials. This test can determine the archival quality of materials including, but not limited to, paper, boards, and plastics. The components of such materials are also tested. These may include inks, tapes, paints, and labels.

 

archival quality photographic plastic enclosure sleeveOver 8,000 samples have undergone the PAT test in more than the two decades of the test. This test is administered by stacking materials in contact with image interaction and stain detectors. These stacks are then placed in a humidity and temperature-controlled chamber to simulate aging. This climate-altered chamber stays at a temperature of 70 degrees centigrade and 80% relative humidity. The incubation process of each sample takes place over the course of a 15-day period. Test results are sent to clients and manufacturers within 4-6 weeks after the test is administered.

archival quality photo negative slide storage pagesIn addition to our line of custom archival boxes, University Products offers photo pages and sleeves that have passed the PAT. Per the recommendation of the National Archives, polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene enclosures provide the most stable and non-damaging storage environment for archiving your photos. Unlike PVC plastics, these materials are inert and do not stick to your photographs.

photo tex archival quality interleaving tissueAt one time, it was believed that photographs stored in buffered enclosures might be adversely affected by buffering. This is no longer believed to be true except for a couple of specific types of photographs. With dye transfer prints and cyanotypes, unbuffered enclosures should be used. The image of both print types can be harmed by alkalinity. University Products’ new Photo-Tex tissue was mentioned on our blog earlier this year as a suitable solution for interleaving between photographs when buffering is not desired.