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Technical Film Systems 35mm Model FC-4000 Film Cleaning Machine


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 12:28 AM

I just bought a Technical Film Systems 35mm Model FC-4000 Film Cleaning Machine last month. I wanted to get some information on this beast. I know from the description, it uses distilled water to clean the film is from the 1990s and originally cost over 50K. I also know Technical Film Systems doesn't make them anymore (or any other film cleaning machine of any kind) and hasn't supported them for the last 7 years. I bought this because we have a REAL problem with dust here in El Paso, which is the desert winds blow dust EVERYWHERE so I needed a machine that would thoroughly clean film before printing. Has anyone ever used one of these things before any any chance in Hell there's a manual available for one somewhere out there? ANY information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks-Steve B)
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#2 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 12:36 AM

Here are some pics:

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Just to jog any memories. :D
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#3 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 02:22 AM

I just bought a Technical Film Systems 35mm Model FC-4000 Film Cleaning Machine last month. I wanted to get some information on this beast.



I looked at that machine for Cinelab and spoke with the owner of TFS in LA, they make very hi end hi volume film processing gear. He told me that these machines were pulled off the market after ruining 50K ft or more of archival OCN at a big facility. The machine uses water rather than a solvent like Prista or alcohol. The problem stemmed from mold growing in the water for the system which then contaminated the emulsion. Be careful with the machine and get a good fungicide to use with it.

-Rob-
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 10:37 AM

............... The problem stemmed from mold growing in the water for the system which then contaminated the emulsion. Be careful with the machine and get a good fungicide to use with it.

One really good water soluble fungicide (also bactericide and virucide) is Nolvasan AKA Chlorhexadine. I have no idea if it's compatible with emulsion, etc. but at least it is human safe. Obviously some testing would be in order, I have used it in various ways with good results.
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#5 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 04:38 PM

As Rob says, TFS make gear (printers, processors, loop cabinets etc) for big volume labs - De Luxe, Technicolor etc. The water-based film cleaner was a response to the problem that the cleaner solvent used up to the 90s, trichloroethane, was found to be an ozone depletant and so banned under the Montreal Protocol, and its replacement, trichloroethylene (aka perchloroethylene) was also a very tightly controlled substance.

Water obviously gets film wet (!) so the principle of this cleaner was (is) to spray a very fine mist of water onto the surface of the film and then dry it off in a hell of a hurry before the emulsion can swell. So it's an edgy operation to start with. I guess the mould problem was just the straw that broke the camel's back so far as TFS were concerned, it was a concept that never really got well accepted. It wouldn't be the first cleaner that people managed to wreck original camera neg on - but 50,000ft of archival neg is a bit like losing a Boeing 747 - you'd be grounding the fleet, at least until you knew what happened!

I doubt if you'd get a manual from anyone other than TFS themselves. Talk to Mike Michelson.
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#6 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 05:12 PM

Water obviously gets film wet (!) so the principle of this cleaner was (is) to spray a very fine mist of water onto the surface of the film and then dry it off in a hell of a hurry before the emulsion can swell. So it's an edgy operation to start with. I guess the mould problem was just the straw that broke the camel's back so far as TFS were concerned, it was a concept that never really got well accepted. It wouldn't be the first cleaner that people managed to wreck original camera neg on - but 50,000ft of archival neg is a bit like losing a Boeing 747 - you'd be grounding the fleet, at least until you knew what happened!

I doubt if you'd get a manual from anyone other than TFS themselves. Talk to Mike Michelson.



When i inquired about the "cleaner" which I kind of considered as a possible stand alone re-wash machine (with heavy modification) I spoke with Mike at TFS and he was very helpful and I would think he could scare up an old manual but any further support would be out of the question. I got the impression that the machine was very well engineered but as Dominic said when you loose a 747 in the film lab world that's that.... This machine seems like an interesting concept from a enviornmentally friendly POV but with alcohol and newer engineered fluids like prista and novec (3m right?) being used for cleaning using straight water seems pretty risky on valuable films...

-Rob-

Oh and BTW the TFS film processors really seem like the Cadillac's (or Bently's) of the processing world but at 200fpm for the smallest one i do not think many have been sold outside of LA...
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#7 Dominic Case

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 06:09 PM

Oh and BTW the TFS film processors really seem like the Cadillac's (or Bently's) of the processing world but at 200fpm for the smallest one i do not think many have been sold outside of LA...

Hey Robert, we're outside of LA. And we have a couple of them. They are actually the 747's of the lab world, compared to the Cessnas that smaller labs use.

The water idea is a good one because it does actually swell the emulsion very slightly even in the few seconds that the film is sprayed, and that is enough to loosen dirt that would otherwise be stuck or pressed in. But it's a high risk strategy.

But in terms of the environmental issues, think PTRs. (Particle Transfer Rollers) which remove dirt without any solvent of any sort.
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#8 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 09:15 PM

Hey Robert, we're outside of LA. And we have a couple of them. They are actually the 747's of the lab world, compared to the Cessnas that smaller labs use.

The water idea is a good one because it does actually swell the emulsion very slightly even in the few seconds that the film is sprayed, and that is enough to loosen dirt that would otherwise be stuck or pressed in. But it's a high risk strategy.

But in terms of the environmental issues, think PTRs. (Particle Transfer Rollers) which remove dirt without any solvent of any sort.



We have 3 Allens a Treise and a Filmline...... none are turbofan powered... The TFS seems really great and I wish one could be supported here in Boston..... I don't see much difference between a newer treise or calder and our allen(s) ( one 35/16 and one 16/8 ) demand drive ecn processors... which run at 50ft/min.

I assumed the TFS cleaner worked like a rewash with the accompanied emulsion softening and what looks like a big drybox on the machine. I would think it would work well but keeping up on maintaining clean mold free water would be a big priority.

We have a San Labs alcohol machine and a older Lipsner ultrasonic it seems with commercial 35mm any little spec is a big (producers??) problem (which I think is a bit silly but..) so I have been looking at a Lipsner CF8200.

-Rob-
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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 05:29 AM

Well, I bet if the machine were kept in the dark and the water was chanced frequently (which shouldn't be a problem since distilled water is VERY cheap compared to film cleaner solution) It should work like a charm. :D It seems to be designed to do EXACTLY what I need it to do. If TFS equipment is that well designed, I think I would trust it after some testing of course. I mean WHO KNOWS how well the machine at the archive facility was maintained and where it was placed. I know from having fish tanks and such that if there is light in abundance, mold is gonna grow, maybe if the glass on the front of the machine were to be kept covered and it were to be kept in a light tight room such as the processing lab AND the temperature were to be kept cool, There may not be any kind of problem at all. I also like the idea that I'm not adding any more chemical waste problems to my lab than I already have with the processing machines now. THAT to me is a BIG plus on this machine. I'm gonna test it on the second unit stuff I plan on shooting late this year and if it works III"MMM gonna use it! while of course baring in mind all of your recommendations and cautionary warnings of course) Thanks for the advice guys. B)

Robert, do you have a number for Mike Michelson? Or if you get along with him, (seeing as how you work in an established film lab now and he might be more inclined to accommodate you than me at this point) would you mind asking him if he could lay his hands on a manual for the FC-4000 and if so how much he'd want for it? Thanks-Steve
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#10 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 10:42 AM

Robert, do you have a number for Mike Michelson?



http://www.techfilmsystems.com/

-Rob-
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