PAT Passed you by?

PAT Passed you by?

What is PAT testing?

PAT testing has nothing to do with challenging a postman, or, in this instance portable electronics. When we talk about items being PAT passed, we’re referring to the Photographic Activity Test.

The PAT was devised by the Image Permanence Institute to evaluate photographic storage and display products for their suitability to store photographic materials. PAT is an international standard test (ISO18916) and can be seen across many varying materials such as mounting board, Arcare PAT passed tape clear sleeves and pockets, paper, adhesives and more. (you can read more about the scope of the ISO standard here).

The test, to put it simply, is a dummy photograph sandwich. Samples are sandwiched in a light press against image interaction and stain detectors, the stacks are then stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment for 15 days. This climate-altered chamber stays at a temperature of 70 degrees centigrade and 80% relative humidity to simulate (speed up) the aging process. The assessment is based upon the changes in the sample’s image interaction and stain detectors compared to a control sample.

PAT on the front, back or all over?

A product which has passed the PAT is deemed to be safe for long term storage of photographic materials such as; silver-gelatin, chromogenic, inkjet (dye and pigment), dye-diffusion transfer, electrophotography (dry and liquid toner), and diazo. ‘Brilliant’ you say, but wait, yes your print storage box is PAT passed, but is the interleaving paper, pocket, mount-board, tape? In other words, if you’re looking for completely PAT compliant storage arrangement, you need to consider all products which influence the environment in which the photographs are to be stored. We have labelled all of our PAT passed products to make it easier for you to make a decision. It’s also important to stress that products without a PAT pass could also be equally suitable for photographic storage, they just haven’t been tested.Archival Mounting Board

The test is equally valid for framing purposes, after-all, not all photographs are stored away in boxes or albums - mount board, mounting corners, frame sealing tape, even glass, all influence the photograph’s environment. Our archival conservation mounting board is PAT passed and also boasts Microchamber technology for extra protection from airborne pollutants. Older photographs will benefit from the support a matting provides.

100% PAT compliant storage doesn’t mean your photographs will live forever…

Ultimately, no matter how suitable the materials are in which you choose to store or display your photographs, their longevity will depend highly on the UV light, temperature, humidity and atmospheric pollutants they are exposed to. A well-managed cool storage environment with an RH of around 30-40%, and PAT passed enclosures will ensure they are preserved for as long as is possible. The LOC have a handy guide for storage of photographs which is well worth a read.

For our range of PAT passed products click here.

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