CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Dec 3, 2004
I am having an issue drymounting photographs. I am using a Seal 500T-X press and drymount tissue (not Fusion 4000) at a temp of 185 degrees. The tissue melts fine and the photograph is perfectly drymounted, BUT the finish on the photo is trashed. My "drymount package" consist of (in this order) a release board, the photo, the tissue, foamcore, and a piece of kraft paper. I have tried a couple of different photos and I had similar results. Is this a temp issue? Or, is my "drymount package" in the wrong order? Any help or advice appreciated. This should be someting a 500T-X can do, I am just doing something wrong. Also, does anyone know if the 500T-X can be upgraded to have a digital thermometer like the new versions? Thanks.
Failed to mention, my dwell time is 3 minutes and 15 seconds as recommended by this tissue. Thanks.
Are these photographs fiber-based, RC or some kind of computer-printed images? Glossy or matte surface?

Seal makes a Colormount cover sheet that's supposed to help with glossy photos. They also make temperature indicator strips that will help you check your platen temperatures.

Or, at least, they made both these product 15 years ago.
Is there a specific reason that you want to permanently mount the photos? Would there be a problem with hinge mounting or edge strips? Those techniques are minimally invasive, faster, cheaper, and reversible.

Dry mounting is an invasive process, exposing the photo to pressure and heat for some specific time. Moisture content of the hygroscopic materials is a factor, too. It is a delicate process, in that too much or too little time, temperature, pressure, or moisture could cause a problem later, if not immediately. Chances are the problem is related to one of more of these factors.

Bainbridge ArtCare Restore is the fastest and lowest-temperature dry mounting product on the market, as far as I know, and it is said to be reversible. I still would not rely on it for preservation mounting of a valuable or one-of-a-kind item, but I have found it to have less effect than other dry mounting methods/materials on the surface texture of photos.
By your description, it seems like everything is in order and the temperature/time is about right.

As Ron mentioned, if it is a real glossy, RC paper, the Seal Colormount Coversheet should keep the glossy surface. But, make sure the cover sheet has been pre-dried, too, to get rid of moisture.

However, my guess, is that this “photo” may actually be an ink jet print. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between that and a real photo. If it is an ink jet, then some combinations of ink and paper do not lend themselves to dry mounting in a heat press. They “melt” and leave a mottled surface regardless of what you do.
Oops, like Bill said....When you say the finish is trashed, do you mean that the gloss is now 'splotchy'? I've only had that happen with digital printed images and it appears to be directly related to temperature.

Speedmount is my preferred solution. It will work slightly below 150 degrees with a dwell time of a minute or so.

Regarding digital control replacement of the 500TX controls.... I believe a replacement is sold, but personally would not use it. My last look at the digital control being utilized on the newer versions of press is poor at best. The temperature overswing has been measured more than 50 degrees above setpoint and once setpoint is achieved; the digital display reads setpoint, not actual temperature.

Bainbridge has a re-usable temperature indicator that is used to check the accuracy of the setting on drymount presses. It is free for the asking and should be available from any Bainbridge supplier.

Try a new release board, or better yet.. get some release tissue. We have noticed a marked difference in the surface appearance between a board an tissue.

I'm not even sure we have a release board laying around anymore.. I think I chopped it up and used it as a glue pan for the Yes! paste. :D