Next Stop: Machine Room
Going up a floor we arrive where all the manufacturing and packaging is done. This floor is massive – well I guess they all are, but it’s more obvious here. From left to right you have the following machines: plastic mould making devices (there are two left out of 8 in the past) which insert the empty film packs into some converyor system. Those eventually arrive in a dark room to be filled.
Next to these dark rooms are machines with rolls of uncut mylar, backing and mask (the clear front and the white surroundings of each Impossible picture). In the dark room the light sensitive negative material is added, the picture created and out comes a film pack – complete with battery darkslides (they’re also on a big roll).
Another thing is added to the film packs here: a pod of activation paste. That’s made by a separate machine. Pods are stacked in little – it looks very technical but magically works.
Even though it’s all an automatic process, there are very strict checks on tolerance and quality. Problematic pictures are ejected automatically and the old Polaroid instruments are still in use today. It’s all hand made to purpose here.
Once the film packs are ready, they’re packaged up – first in a box, then the box gets a box, and the all those boxes are put into a carton. There was so much Impossible film up here – it’s incredible. I think PX 600 was in production this day. “It’s an expensive hobby” says Andre… and looking at this setup I for one believe him!
Mythical: The 8×10 Machine
Recently Impossible have acquired the last remaining machine that can make 8×10″ Polaroids. All the others have been destroyed, but this one has survived in Mexico can you believe it.
The machine itself was only $10.000, but shipping from Mexico to Enschede was $90.000 (ouch!) – none of it was in the budget says Andre, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
But here’s the problem: the machine was once working fine, but since it’s been dismantled and put back together it’s now a giant puzzle that needs to be put together. Surviving engineers from the US have offered their services (at a huge cost) but the problem with such a solution is that if anything goes wrong, Impossible would have to get those guys in again – and pay again.
They’d rather be able to maintain this puppy by themselves so the challenge is now to get it working again without anyone’s help. Good luck, it’ll be a worthwhile effort. I’ve recently seen one pack of 8×10 on eBay that went for over £200.
Impossible will produce 8×10 material once this thing is running, but right now that’s not quite the case. Limited Edition hand made batches are in circulation but those are not for sale I understand.