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EverColor® Pigment Transfer Prints

Going For The Gold ~ The End of A Dream

EverColor was the last option, but they would be making the prints rather than me or Michael. Our first experiments were promising although not a good match to the transparencies.

Shortly after these experiments I was visited at our gallery/lab in Worcester by Dick Carter, the Chairman of EverColor, offering me the position of CEO. I am now sure what he knew about me or how. I was flattered and eventually accepted although I would be running a California company from Massachusetts and was not fond of flying.

EverColor was the brainchild of William Nordstrom, a vetern of the graphic arts industry. His idea was to adapt the Agfa-Proof process by purchasing from Agfa special pigments. The nature of the process was that it left a print with only pure pigment on a mylar base, the right foundation for a very long life print.

Dick Carter assembled a group of angel investors and began operations near Sacramento. At their best the prints were superb and all indications were that it was nearly impossible to fade them. The cyan, magenta and yellow pigments came from the automotive paint industry and were chosen for their brilliance of color and light stability rather than to match offset printing as in a conventional Agfa-Proof.

I visited their facility in California and was taken with the quality of their prints, too taken it turned out.

The short version of the story is that Agfa used a roller transport machine for processing.

Roller transport is a risky process where the surface of the materials must not be affected at all by the processing. In the EverColor facility technicians were pulling sheets of material not fully processed because of potential defects if the materials completed the path through the machine. This led to the single worst engineering misjudgment of my life.

I was so taken with the quality of the prints that I asked if they would move EverColor to our facility in Worcester presuming that I could fix the process. However, I had not investigated it sufficiently before the move.

It took us a long time to realize that the roller transport defects which did not appear in busy images like mine, were easily seen in areas of clear sky and it was impossible to make the gears and rollers precisely enough to eliminate these defects. Agfa made a special processor for us with all stainless steel rollers and gears in place of the usual plastic, and air shipped it from Belgium to Worcester. It was about the size of two side-by-side refrigerators and did not perform any better than the other machines.

Nevertheless, we were prepared to move forward and tried to place an order for more yellow pigment when we were informed that it was no longer available and that Agfa had cancelled the Agfa-Proof process just as Kodak had cancelled dye transfer. The board of EverColor declared bankruptcy leaving a number of local vendors holding the bag.

Ink jet (gicl´e) continued to show promise. Dyes gave way to pigments and fading was suddely not such as big issues, However quality was, and perhaps even more so was color management.

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