Eastman Kodak Company

Press Release



K-LAB Processors Improve KODACHROME Film Processing

Today, only 8 photoprocessing laboratories worldwide process KODACHROME Film. Because they are so few in number and far between, they cannot meet the time demands of photographers who may require overnight or faster photoprocessing service.

K-Lab Processor

Traditional KODACHROME Film Processing vs. The K-LAB System

For the past 20 years, KODACHROME Film has been developed using Process K-14 - known for its heavy demands on capital space, time, and operator attention. The improvements in this film processing made possible by the new KODAK K-Lab Processor will bring significant benefits to those areas and more.

Like traditional Process K-14, K-LAB is a cine-processor in which individual rolls of film are strung together in a magazine to make a long strand of film that runs through the processor. At the end, the processed film simply winds onto another reel ready for mounting and packaging.

Space requirements are a prime example of the advantages of the K-LAB Processor. The K-14 processor itself uses 1,000 or more square feet of floor space and its support requirements (including mixing and storage tanks, a full analytical laboratory and bulk chemical storage) can take 10,000 or more square feet of space. Requiring only 46 square feet of floor space, the K-LAB Processor can fit through a standard 32-inch doorway. The total space required by a K-LAB System (including processing unit, replenishment rack, computer, splicer, and mounter) can be as small as 200 square feet of floor space.

Lowering Tension

Depending on the size of the K-14 processor, film in process travels between 30 and 100 feet per minute. This rapid rate is necessary because in the K-14 processor, KODACHROME Film is agitated by impingement using a series of spray bars that project processing chemicals onto the film as it moves along. The K-LAB Processor takes a revolutionary approach to agitation using a tube-within-a-tube configuration that runs the film through an elliptical agitation tube made with an exacting pattern of holds, which is inside a recirculation tube that holds the processing chemicals. By bringing the chemical energy closer to the film, this innovation has enabled Kodak's engineers to lower the speed of the film to 6.5 feet per minute, and the chemical pump-size requirements for the K-LAB Processor to one-tenth that of the traditional K-14 processor.

The K-LAB Processor can process 75 to 100 rolls (24 to 36 exposures respectively) of film per hour, dry to dry, translating to a maximum of 600 rolls in an eight-hour shift. The tubes used in the K-LAB Processor also are easily removable for cleaning or replacement.

Precision Computer Control

A touch screen control, Windows-based computer monitors and controls a wide range of processing parameters in the K-LAB Processor. For example, the computer adjusts fluid temperatures to within one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit; tells the operator of the K-LAB Processor when film is in process; and monitors the K-LAB Processors' replenishers alerting the operator when it's necessary to replace the prepackaged, bag-in-box chemical containers.

Maintaining Chemical Stability

Chemical stability has always been a challenge with the K-14 processor. In their final mixed state, the developers used to process KODACHROME Film oxidized rapidly from air exposure and lose their effectiveness. This problem was overcome by providing K-14 processors with full-scale chemical laboratories which are used to mix processing solutions from bulk chemicals on short notice.

Kodak eliminated the need for on-site chemical production for the K-LAB Processor by producing stable, premixed developers that are suitable to be shipped and stored. To ensure the freshest possible developer replenishers, the K-LAB Processor uses an in-line, real-time replenishment system that ensures optimum chemical-process stability. In addition, the chemicals used in the K-LAB Processor are mixed and packaged under an inert nitrogen atmosphere, and placed into a bag-in-box container that prevents air oxidation, ensuring fresh, consistent, high-quality solutions every time.

User Benefits of Processing With the K-LAB Processor

The K-LAB Processor's minimal space requirements and easy operation make it ideal for widely-distributed use. In time, K-LAB Processors could be operated in dozens of metropolitan areas around the world providing a network of processing that would serve a demand for faster turnaround times on KODACHROME Film processing.

Generating the Idea for the K-LAB Processor

Richard Mackson had never used a processor for KODACHROME Film, but he set out to design one anyway. As a commercial photolab owner, Mackson designed and built computer-controlled processing equipment; and as a photographer under contract to Sports Illustrated, he was frustrated in the lack of availability of KODACHROME Film processing.

With the concepts and a novel idea for the K-LAB Processor mapped out, he approached Kodak with a proposal and worked with a dedicated Kodak design team to build a new processing system for KODACHROME Film. Today, Mackson serves as senior business and technology associate for Kodak in Rochester, New York.