Photo Processing Chemicals

Maybe Your Chemistry Can Come in Small Packages

by Donna Peterson

You don’t have to be on the Mir Space Station to benefit from using freeze-dried products. They may be advantageous right in your facility.

The prepress department at West Group, a publishing company located in Eagan, Minnesota, wanted to eliminate hydroquinone—which is toxic—from their developer. They also wanted to reduce their overall handling of liquid chemistry and minimize the number of different developing solutions being used.

West tested a new nonhydroquinone-based product for Fuji Hunt Corporation, a photographic chemical supplier. The new product met all of West’s goals and has replaced the use of six different hydroquinone-based developers.

Instead of being shipped in plastic drums and containers, the developer is freeze-dried and vacuum packed. The contents of an 8.4 pound freeze-dried package are diluted with water to make 53 gallons of developer in mixing equipment that West assembled with off-the-shelf materials.

“The new developer has been flawless in the process,” said Craig Yolitz, prepress manager. The system reduced the number of chemistries used in film processing “and maintenance costs have gone to zero.”

The change has brought many benefits to the company:

  • The hazards of storing huge volumes of liquid developer have disappeared.
  • The needs for storage space have been reduced by 150 square feet.
  • Concerns about materials freezing during transport or forklift accidents have been eliminated.
  • Overall volume of solid waste has decreased—400, 5-gallon plastic containers per year no longer require disposal.
  • Consolidating from six to one product has reduced ordering costs and paperwork.

Could a freeze-dried package work for you? Ask your vendor. Your company could reap the same kinds of benefits that the West Group has.

West Group is a 1997 winner of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Waste and Pollution Prevention.

This article was originally published in the 1997 Fall issue of the Source.