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What type of film cleaning machines do commercial scanning companies use?


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Cleaning film has always been a pain in the ass. Hate it. Are cleaning machines an affordable option for the small operator or are they high priced?

What type of film cleaning machines do commercial scanning companies use?

How good are cleaning machines compared to hand cleaning?

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Look for a used Lipsner Smith 900 to 1100 or so series of alcohol based cleaning machines, as long as you don't feed it deteriorating Nitrate film. 

You don't want, probably can't afford, a nitrate-capable perc or HFE based cleaner; permits and/or fluid costs would be prohibitive and the fumes are toxic (at least for the Perc), so you'd have to install a vapor recovery system.  You will need an outside vent for the LS machine quoted above or you'll stand a chance of fines or an explosion... 

Cleaning machines are more efficient; give you time to do something else while the film cleans and you can always send a reel back through multiple times

Edited by Frank Wylie
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The slightest bit of decomposition will start the emulsion to lift and can strip it off the base.

Sticky/decomposing nitrate is insoluble in perchloethylene or HFE, but even the smallest bit of water in alcohol can affect decomposition, smearing it onto buffers and ... well you can imagine.

If you ever have a bit of nitrate where some decomp is bubbling up on a frame, and you are willing to sacrifice that frame to save the reel, then you can wipe the decomp off with a damp cloth, let the film base dry (its usually just the emulsion that has gone bad) and arrest the spread of decomposition in most cases.  It is the out-gassing that is contagious to the prior and post wraps of the reel that spreads the decomp.

Anyway, don't use water on Nitrate unless you want to destroy it.  If you have a totally melted reel, put it in a pail with just enough water to cover it and then transport it to a hazardous waste facility.  Don't burn it; that is just asking for trouble...

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On 10/7/2021 at 3:54 PM, Robert Houllahan said:

Kodak / PhotoMec have the PF200

http://www.photomec.co.uk/our_products/p200film-cleaner/

 

I know a few post shops that have them.

 

A XL900 or 1100 will probably run you $10K or more these days if you can find one.

 

Is that a cheap one Robert? If so, what does a state of the art model cost?

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1 hour ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

 

Is that a cheap one Robert? If so, what does a state of the art model cost?

I am not sure what you mean by "Cheap" I think the P200 is at least $50K but I have not priced one out, most film machines are in the $50K - $250K range as they are low volume engineered and produced products.

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They use a variety of machines. The Ultrasonic scanners were designed for Trike which is banned from manufacture since the 90's due to ozone depletion (it only has an atmospheric life of 6 years though unlike the CFCs). You can read about that in the Montreal Protocol 1995 assessment document. It's the best solvent though, some of the companies have switched to using Perc which is a dry cleaning chemical and highly hazardous so you need the right space to set up anything using that (as Frank mentions you need permits as well and vapour recovery). Some companies use other solvents like the 3M ones which are safer to handle but less effective cleaning solvents and much more expensive. The alcohol-based Lipsner-Smith machines are a good choice if for something safe to handle yourself if you're setting up at home or in an office, you need to re-lubricate film after cleaning though with Film Guard or your choice of lubricant as alcohol dries out the film. If you're hand-cleaning you can still get Trike in small quantities.

A good ultrasonic clean gets the film much cleaner than hand-cleaning.

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On 10/11/2021 at 8:35 PM, Dan Baxter said:

They use a variety of machines. The Ultrasonic scanners were designed for Trike which is banned from manufacture since the 90's due to ozone depletion (it only has an atmospheric life of 6 years though unlike the CFCs). You can read about that in the Montreal Protocol 1995 assessment document. It's the best solvent though, some of the companies have switched to using Perc which is a dry cleaning chemical and highly hazardous so you need the right space to set up anything using that (as Frank mentions you need permits as well and vapour recovery). Some companies use other solvents like the 3M ones which are safer to handle but less effective cleaning solvents and much more expensive. The alcohol-based Lipsner-Smith machines are a good choice if for something safe to handle yourself if you're setting up at home or in an office, you need to re-lubricate film after cleaning though with Film Guard or your choice of lubricant as alcohol dries out the film. If you're hand-cleaning you can still get Trike in small quantities.

A good ultrasonic clean gets the film much cleaner than hand-cleaning.

 

Thanks Dan, didn't know they made ultrasonic cleaners for film. Some of this archival film is filthy, filthy. Even has bug cocoons on it.

Edwal Film Cleaner is a fast drying cleaner. Looks like it would dry the film out. Fast drying cleaners don't do that great for hand cleaning. If you go over them with a slow drying film lubricant or cleaner it takes off more dirt. But Edwal is good for fast work as in 'better than nothing.'

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