Risk Summary - September 1 covering progress in August, 2014.
Here is a summary of the various at-risk components of New55 film as of September 1, 2014. Please refer to the August summary as well so you can compare progress.
The Sleeve Assembly. This contains the Receiver sheet which has several parts, the stop tab, end tab and printing. It has to be stable yet easily peelable, light tight, and axially stiff enough to allow easy insertion into the 545 holder. And as we have advertised, it should produce less "Polatrash" than its predecessor.
Status: Some parts done, several in development. We continue to rely on The Sleeve Machine and it works well. We have even found a die-cutter who can perform all the cut to length operations at an OK starting price.
Cost: Still high, but at least now we know.
Risk: Moderate mechanical risk, high materials risk.
The Receiver Sheet
Status: New design developed by New55
Cost: High? We don't really know what the bill will be yet.
Risk: High. This is the highest risk component of the project and is quite complex. The team has done well, and have a single layer all aqueous system that works. The design is out for quotes at coating facilities. THIS IS A HUGE MILESTONE.
The Base is paper, of a certain thickness, width etc. that serves as the support for some 8 other layers of materials. Further experiments with the Base paper show it is a suitable substrate, subject to the addition of a bridge coat, and a bright white coating.
Status: We have it
The Laminate in this case is the opacification layer, which is something we invented, and the polymer overcoat layer.
Status: We have it, but we might not need it anymore, given the apparent success of the single layer all aqueous receiver design.
The Bridge is an additional coat that seals the Base and Laminate making them impervious and less susceptible to excess water absorption during coating steps and user processing. It has to be a material that will support the next coat.
Status: Still needed and one version tested that works reasonably well.
"Image" is what we call the layer that is white and has the glossy surface you see. In actuality, this layer is fairly complex, has to have an exact pH and pH over time characteristic, and have a high whiteness. It also has to have a nanostructure that is particular to the DTR process and image quality requirements learned from the photonics fields, and therefore requires specialized services which we do not have, currently.
Status: We might have eliminated this, too. Luck may be with us here, but we do not know for sure.
Risk: Being reassessed.
The Nucleation Layer is where the black and grey tones of the positive image are developed and held for eternity or at least for a long time. We have formulated our own modern Nucleation Layer and now have to find a resource to apply it.
Status: We invented this, it works, and we think it can be commercialized
Cost: High. This layer uses very expensive materials in small quantities, but it adds up.
Risk: High. Even though we know how to do this, it has never been commercialized, but we have possibly found the right coating resources to make it a reality.
The Release Layer is the very topmost layer and it keeps the reagent from sticking and making a mess. We have to find someone able to do this, or do it ourselves. It isn't all that complex but this layer can impart a brown or yellow tone to the positive, which looks awful. So we want to avoid that.
Status: Tests show this is an easy process.
The Cover might also be called The Back of the Sleeve Assembly. Its job is to keep the assembly light tight and form a thin cover for parts to slide. We have designed The Cover to mimic the operation of our Base and Laminate, only thinner, to keep the total thickness within the limits of the 545 holder. The Cover works very well, looks nicer than anything Polaroid used for its sheet film, and it seals the light out like no tomorrow, so hooray for The Cover!
Status: We have it here and it works well. Leaving well enough alone!
The Stop Tab is a piece of thick paper that prevents you from pulling The Sleeve all the way out of the camera. It has to be cut from the right stock and glued into the right place and we need to invent a tool to do that, because nobody wants to hand-glue 25,000 tabs.
Status: Being designed and sourced, with significant vendor contact now
The End Tab is the part you hold with your hand as you insert the film into the 545. It has to be peelable, stiff, locatable with simple machinery, and have opposing adhesive stripes applied to it prior to assembly. It looks like something we might have made for us. Fingers crossed.
Status: Being designed and sourced with significant vendor contact now
Printing on The Sleeve is expected but not absolutely necessary. Some kind of "Lens Side" mark might do. I'm not even going to think about it now.
The Pod is very important and has to be configured to fit inside the sleeve, on The Insert Assembly, and contain the processing jelly, or reagent.
Status: Working prototype needing further tooling and a schedule. We have estimated the quantities and a further consideration is the move of 20x24 which could make scheduling a problem in the coming months.
The Pod Materials is a bit touchy as it uses aluminum barrier material perilously close to a strong alkali, but Polaroid and Fuji got away with it for the most part, and then so must we. A better pod material is something worth developing, but later on.
Status: Some on hand, more needed later
The Reagent is made of a specially blended developer, solvent, alkali booster and thickener (and other chemicals) that process the negative and do double duty of transferring dissolved silver sols across an electrolytic barrier into the Receiver Sheet. A book could be written about The Reagent. It won't be published today. Suffice to say that a suitable reagent processes a good negative and a good positive, and stays active for a while before something happens to it.
Status: Complete and working, but now we need to run it in quantity and test it again.
The Tongue Assembly is the insert that holds the sheet film, pod and is terminated by The Clip. Its final assembly has to be done in total darkness so it is the last assembly step.
Status: Prototyped and a very clever prototype it is, with laser cuts and adhesive strips! Pretty cool!
The Clip is "just" a piece of metal. No understatement stings more than that one at this moment, when the tooling charges and lead times for The Clip are still ringing in the checkbook. The original style Polaroid clip was made of soft steel and painted. The cost to make this part from a painted steel would be enormous today. Without the paint it would rust, so we have found a substitute material that does not require paint and has better springiness too. It has never been tested, so we wait with bated breath.
Status: Designed and on order with prepaid tooling, awaiting decision of engineering if we can use them as-is. Probable change to tooling needed.
The tongue is shaped like a tongue, sort of, and supports the film and pod. It is made of thin but stiff and slippery stock which has to be die cut. Pretty doable.
Status: Designed and very cool prototype from a can-do vendor! We like that!
The Adhesive Strips have to be applied to The Tongue with a machine. This involves vendor development and has not been done yet, so it remains an unknown for now.
Status: In design
The Negative is rather important and something we could not make ourselves. It has been unnerving to see our favorite negative - EFKE - go out of business. It worked the best in DTR mode because it was primitive and had cubic grains that were mainly at the surface - like Panatomic X used to have. It turns out that the more primitive emulsions work the best in DTR and advanced T grain types do not. They were latecomers anyway and there are still some old school emulsions left. The makers of these emulsions were not quite sure if they should be named in New55 because the performance of the film is very different in our system, but it doesn't matter much to us as long as we can get 4x5 negative in bulk, cheaply! We cannot do that, but we are doing our best to keep the cost reasonable. You had better start buying more 4x5 films from these vendors is all I can say right now.
Status: Sourced AND NOW IN OUR FREEZERS. Whew!
Cost: Higher than expected
Risk: Moderately low
Source A has agreed to ship a starting quantity of film in stages and we are tracking the heat history, lot numbers, emulsion characteristics, packaging and other things that can ruin film or degrade, fog or damage it - before we have a chance to.
Source B has suggested they might compete with Source A in price but we have not any agreement on that at the moment.
The Package is essential if we want to ship New55 FILM to anyone.
Status: To be sourced, no change to status
The Liner is a fancy name for a sealed plastic bag that seals the film from the environment. There has to be the right size and a sealer that is quick to use.
The Box has to be stiff enough for transport but light in weight and inexpensive. It should be plain for shipping and not appear to be sealed after opening.
The Label has to be printed and put on the box. There is a machine that does that and uses the label to also seal the box, saving tape, time and expense.