Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Making KODAK Film


 Just got my copy (barely, as the mailmauler folded it in half) of this very interesting book straight from the author, Robert L Shanebrook, and you can read it too, if you order it here.

After just touring two European photo film making plants I now have a greater appreciation of the immensity of the KODAK plant, and the pioneering process development that went on there over the course of a century. Much of the equipment reminds me of milk and cheese processing equipment. There is a certain agricultural quality to KODAK that I never noticed, but it is not surprising, as upstate NY is dairy rich, too.

Last week we heard that KODAK was mothballing its largest factory. Being over capacity isn't good for business and right-sizing is a necessary step to continued operation. It seems that there are other processes that might be well suited to the big Kodak coaters, such as making next generation high efficiency solar cells. Wouldn't that be appropriate! Let's hope business leaders and not bean counters make the decisions to retain some knowledge base and capability in the US. Apparently, Mr. Shanebrook isn't so confident so he has carefully documented the process equipment and flow charts for key components used to make photographic film.

Industrial archaeology will some day be a distinct profession as technology intensive industries come and go through inevitable growth and obsolescence cycles. Only when it is too late to salvage will other investors do what they can to dig up the past and look for any gems of knowledge they might newly employ.

Get this book!

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