Hello peoples. I am the guy who uploaded the photos to Flickr, and was contacted (I think) the original poster of this thread as a courtesy. While I am not the builder, I am close to him and can act as a go-between for any any questions you have.
Let me fill in some details on the project...
The builder is a retired chemist from Kodak here in Australia and was high up enough up the food chain so that when the plant finally shut down, he was able to acquire a few useful bits to assist the build.
He is a tinkerer and this project essentially is a means to an end, the end being something I am not entirely not sure of, but no doubt involves researching exotic emulsions. The end result is definately not the sale of large format custom/exotic filmstock, but if there is a demand for the left-overs, I am sure it is an income stream he would consider to offset the cost of building it.
I have been very busy going around the countryside for work over the last couple of months and have been unable to get new photos, but will be spending a lot of time over there the next couple of days so feel free to ask questions, and I will endeavour to get them answered and take more photos of any specific bits if required.
As mentioned, this project has no commercial considerations. The film size chosen was based on price and availability.
The film base is threaded and spliced into a single loop, so each coating run gives a standard length of product.
With regards to multi-coating, the engineering involved for the gains made is not worth it in this case so the machine is set up to do a single layer at a time. Extra layers can be applied straight away, or the coated film can be stored until required.
I have mentioned a TiO2 base, and this is currently just a bit of playing around. When the machine is up and going properly, the end product will be 'normal' negative film.
From what I understand (IE: the original builder explained to me a long time ago) the cascade coaters are used for multi-layer coatings, to allow an even surface for the multiple layers to be laid on before application to the base. (I could be wrong on this) The method used for this machine is as described above.A cascade coater has the exit slot on the top surface and the emulsion flows down to meet the film whereas with this one, the exit slot is at the point of (not quite) contact with the film. Presumably at the junction of the two perspex plates.
The last year or so has been mainly taken up with trying to remove the problem of uneven layering of the emulsion that shows up as regular 'banding' pattern on the finished product. The problem had been isolated to the drive roller, and was assumed to be gearbox chatter. A *lot* of time and expense was used to track this down, and eventually a high-res stepper motor and drive all but removed the problem. The banding that is left is due to the coating roller by the looks, being a high-speed unit running on low speed the bearings will need to be either replaced or maybe we could get away with repacking them with a light oil rather than grease.
Thank you for the interest, I thought it was far too interesting to be left in the dark in a garage. While the builder uses the net for research rather than "social" uses, I will endeavour to get him into the forum, it looks like it will be one he will enjoy.