| Aug 31, 05:31 PM
It’s time for another edition of Dr. Love’s Tips, in which Impossible USA’s Camera Resource Manager Frank Love provides you with advice on how to get the best out of your camera and Impossible film. This week’s entry will hopefully offer some answers to the oft-asked questions about pack film, 4×5 film and roll film…
We have gotten many requests, questions, and pleas about creating more than just the amazing formats of SX-70, Spectra, and 600 film since the initial announcement of The Impossible Project. These requests have especially been renewed recently with the unveiling of our new 8×10 film.
I just want to take a moment to explain how it is we have come to be manufacturing the films we do, and why we aren’t making other formats.
To start, we have to look at Polaroid’s manufacturing setup: There was no singular Polaroid plant to produce their films. Polaroid did have one plant that produced all the raw paper and negative material which was located here in the US in Massachusetts. Then Polaroid had a plant in Enschede where the integral format films were produced (SX-70, Spectra/1200, 600), and in Mexico they had yet another facility that produced the peel-apart films. The trick with this means, that to be able to produce all the Polaroid films, you need all the plants/factories, or at least the right components from each.
This is one of the largest reasons why Impossible went back to the drawing board when producing the integral films. The factory that was saved was specifically the integral factory in Enscede, Holland that had the millions of dollars worth of what is effectively just assembly machinery. The facility in Waltham, MA that produced the raw materials had been long closed and gutted by this point behind the scenes. This means that the core ingredients were not producible, add to that the change in environmental laws for others, and you have a film formula that cannot be produced anymore. This began the reconstitution of a new supply chain with new materials and a new overall formula to create new Impossible film.
So this explains the films we are making…what about the rest?
The 8×10 production came by a stroke of luck, as the machines had simply been disconnected and moved to a warehouse in MA instead of being disassembled and sold off. They were discovered there by Impossible and then acquired and moved to what was now our plant in Holland. Thankfully as the 8×10 did not produce on the mass scale as the smaller formats, the machinery was not the size of a large room, but rather was portable enough to move. We have also produced 20×24 film, but these have been one-off hand-cut pieces and is also possible because the demand isn’t at production scale, so machines aren’t needed, and a higher cost is acceptable.
As to the other peel-apart formats (4×5, type 100 and type 80), these were produced in Polaroid’s Waltham and Mexico factories. These factories were closed and the machinery was dismantled and scrapped, sadly. Some have also asked about the earlier peel apart ‘roll-film’ formats of the first Polaroid cameras. Polaroid ceased the manufacturing of these formats in 1992, and the capabilities to produce this film has been long gone. It was also discontinued because it was more problematic versus pack film, and produced more waste as well.
Without these machines for the pack films or 4×5, production would have to be hand-made, which would mean extremely limited quantities at extremely high prices. If Polaroid hadn’t dismantled these machines, these formats could be in the same boat as the 8×10, retooled and re-imagined. To rebuild the machines would be a simply cost-prohibitive investment. So as of the current situation, with current machinery available, there are no plans to make any formats other than SX-70, 600 and Spectra/Image. This doesn’t mean it can never happen, but we can’t predict what may happen to change these circumstances.
I hope this helps in clearing up any questions people have, and as always…
keep your rollers clean,