Colour photograph of a No. 4 Aero film slitting machine in the Roll & Motion Picture Film Department at the Kodak factory complex, Coburg, circa 1963.

The operator, Rupert Wilson [?], is checking the roll tension for the slitting of type 120 still film.

Coated rolls of film from the Emulsion Coating Department were transported to this department where they were held in cold storage bunkers until Quality Control & Testing issued a release, based on detailed examination of samples previously taken from the start and end of each roll. The procedure for finishing all roll and motion picture products was to first slit the parent roll into long strips of the correct width. These strips ranged from 16mm in the case of movie films right up to the full coated width of 54in (1.37m) for use in large industrial establishments. Still and movie strips were next perforated using punches, pilots and dies with an accuracy of 5 micro-metre (1/20th the width of a human hair). These rolls of perforated film were next spooled using a variety of machines specially designed for each product, some being highly sophisticated and fully automatic, while others were semi-automatic and required constant operator intervention. Further testing of spooled product, sometimes to destruction, was an additional safeguard to the consumer. Each spool of film was then packaged into a moisture-proof container and then into "Kodak Yellow" packaging.

The machine depicted here was of imported French design and manufacture but greatly modified in the Kodak Coburg Engineering Workshops (Building 12) for use with department roll handling systems and darkroom conditions. A feature of this machine was its all aluminium fabrication and welded construction. All the electrical control panels were virtually replaced to enable safe operation of the machine in the dark. The rotary slitting knives were constantly checked and set by local field engineers and sets of knives were always being sharpened in the Engineering Workshops.

The operator first loaded the 54 inch sensitized parent roll onto the unwind stand, then threaded the film through tensioning drive rollers, under the knives and finally onto the required width winding spools. After the required length of film was slit the operator then had to unload each spooled length into light-tight containers. This photograph was taken in normal light conditions for clarity, however this operation was carried out in darkroom conditions.

Kodak manufactured and distributed a wide range of photographic products to Australasia, such as film, paper, chemicals, cameras and miscellaneous equipment. Its client base included amateur and professional photographers, as well as specialist medical and graphic art professionals who used photography, x-ray and other imaging techniques.

This photograph is part of the Kodak collection of products, promotional materials, photographs and working life artefacts collected from Kodak Australasia in 2005, when the Melbourne manufacturing plant at Coburg closed down.

Description of Content

The photograph features a man wearing white overalls, gloves and cap, seated on a bench with his hands positioned on a large roll of coated film which is mounted in an unwind stand at the base of the slitting machine. Above this roll there are rollers for transporting the film under a set of cutting knives at the top of the machine. On both sides of the machine there are control panels for the operator.

Physical Description

Colour photograph printed on medium weight Kodak paper, landscape format.

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