Impossible Spectra Update

Last week a panic erupted on twitter with the breaking announcement made by @impossible_hq announcing the suspension of B&W Spectra film because of a shortage of key materials; with no ETA on when it would return:


We reached out to The Impossible Project to get an official statement on the full story and received a response from Wim Nijmeijer, who oversees R&D in Enschede:

“In our film for Spectra/Image we are missing a sufficiently thin rail material. The rail in this film is in between the negative and the positive material. See image of peeled-open picture. The function of a rail is to control the thickness of the paste spreading between the positive and negative. We do have a thick rail available. Fortunately we can use that in Color for Spectra / Image. But the B&W system needs a thinner spread of the paste to help keep the image stable after the picture has been taken. The thicker rail is of old stock that we have left over from when we took over the factory from Polaroid. Initially we had some thin rail also. But we have consumed all of that material.

The problem really lies in the very specialized adhesive that is on the rail. We know the type but the supplier Morton is not able to supply us with a new batch of this formulation. And although we tried numerous alternatives for different other suppliers it turns out to be very difficult to find an adhesive that is sufficiently good for the film for Spectra/Image. In the film for 600 and SX70 the rail is in a different position. There rail is on the back of the frame under the mask. For those films we do have established a fresh supply of rail with a new adhesive.

The fact that the rail for the film for Spectra/Image is in between the rail and positive sets higher requirements for the adhesive. The materials that it needs to hold together are different than in the film for 600 and SX70. The machine on which the film for Spectra/Image is made is different. Also the stresses that are put on the adhesive bonds are higher when the film is being processed.

At the moment we are working on 2 parallel strategies to get us back in production with the B&W film for Spectra / Image. One strategy is the continued search and testing of new adhesives (Dick Lemmens’ team). The other is making a change to the B&W paste so that it can work with a thicker rail (Martin Steinmeijers’ team). At the moment there is no turn-key solution in sight yet. When we do find a solution we want to make sure there are no unwanted side effects. So at the moment I’m guessing it will take at least 3-6 months for us to get back into production.”

We would like to thank Mr. Nijmeijer for giving us this update on the status of B&W spectra film and look forward to seeing this project back on track soon!

Photo credit: AJ Potter – Impossible Project PZ600 Black Frame for Spectra


  1. says

    Now THAT is a great explanation! Thanks for posting, guys, and IMPOSSIBLE, please, please tell us these things in this kind of detail in the future. It’s great when companies are this transparent!

  2. says

    Thanks Impossible! We appreciate your openness on the issue. We’re behind you all the way! We anxiously await all the improvements you continue to make in keeping instant photography alive.

    Charles R. Lawson, CPP, AFP

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