Nice Video: Current film production
I want to give you a link to a quite nice video showing the current production of Impossible Project film:
But interestingly it is indeed not only about instant film, but in the first part of this video you can see the coating of color negative film (which is an essential component part of Impossible / Polaroid film).
The coating is made with a state of the art multilayer curtain coater. And that is very good presented here in full action.
Readers of Robert Shanebrook's excellent book "Making Kodak Film" (highly recommended!) know the pictures of this production method and the machinery.
Here in this video you can see the layers "flowing". The layers flow on each other, but without mixing.
This first production step of production of the color negative film component is made by the company InovisCoat in Monheim, Germany: www.inoviscoat.de
The film is then shipped to the Impossible factory in Enschede, Netherlands (Enschede is not so far away from Monheim, and just at the border of Netherlands - Germany).
InovisCoat is run by former Agfa engineers and technicians from the former Agfa plant in Leverkusen, Germany.
They have bought lots of the original Agfa machinery from the insolvency of Agfa, Leverkusen.
They then moved to Monheim, built a new, state of the art modern factory, and modernised and downscaled the Agfa machines for a future, economic viable production.
They are much smaller than Kodak, Fujifilm, Agfa-Gevaert (Belgium), Ilford, Lucky or Foma.
They are not only cooperating as a production partner with Impossible Project, but also (longest cooperation) with Adox, e.g. producing the MCC and MCP papers for Adox (emulsion making and coating; converting is done at the new Adox factory).
Additional information from R. Shanebrook concerning differences in coating methods
I've just got an Email from Robert Shanebrook (thanks a lot Robert!) with additional information concerning differences between the coating method shown here at InovisCoat, and the film coating methods used by Kodak.
I quote what Robert Shanebrook has written:
"There is a major difference between the current Kodak film coating and the Impossible Project’s (and Polaroid) coating process. Impossible Project uses a multi-slot slide hopper and bead coater. Bead coating means the distance between the end of the slide and the support is crossed by a bead of liquid, the distance is a few millimeters.
Kodak began using “curtain coating” in the 1970’s and now uses only curtain coating for film manufacturing. With curtain coating the distance between the end of the slide hopper and the support is large, perhaps 250 mm. The result is a “curtain” of liquid that falls by gravity to the moving film support. Maintaining the curtain’s integrity is technically complex and is the “trick” of the process. Exactly how this is done remains proprietary to Kodak. If you know how to do it there is no reason to bead coat. Curtain coating has revolutionary advantages:
Coating Speed: The speed of the impossible project machine in the video looked like it is less than 100 ft per minute. C coating can easily run at 1000 ft/minute.
Uniformity: The falling curtain further smooths the individual layers so the uniformity of each is better than can be provided by bead coating
Lines: Particles can form and lodge in the bead causing a streak. With C coating the distance between hopper and substrate is great so particles don’t form. This may seem like a small advantage but can be a major cause of waste. Remember they have to discard all the film with a streak and all the film that MIGHT have a streak. The second category is usually several times larger than the actual defective film.
Splices: C coating doesn't require the hopper to be retracted when a splice goes by every few thousand feet of substrate. Retraction of the hopper causes a lot of waste. Many times the operator has to use a "pick” to re-establish the flow onto the support. The technique used at the bead is very similar to what is shown in the video to start the flow on the slide to disturb the liquid’s surface so the liquid wets the surfaces uniformly. In bead coating if a splice hits the hopper lip it will ruin the hopper.
Number of layers: Kodak’s c-coater can coat many more layers at once than is shown in the bead coating video."
Just some additional info from me:
- the coating presented in the video is from a small scale machine used for tests; it is not the one used for the production;
- due to the information given by InovisCoat on their website, they can coat up to 9 layers simultaneously .