Magazine Article


Kodak to Build New Dye-Sub Ribbon Plant

In Response to Picture Maker Shortages Kodak Says It Will Build New $45M Rochester Facility

There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for retail sites with Kodak Picture Makers that have experienced shortages of the dye-sub media needed to make 4x6 prints.

The manufacturing facility in Windsor, Colorado, that has been the sole supplier for the paper for about 25,000 Picture Makers in this country, will be joined by a new production facility that Kodak will be building in Rochester's Kodak Park. At a cost of $45 million, Kodak claims this to be the largest single capital investment at Kodak Park in several years. It will employ about 50 people.

Unfortunately, new factories take time to build and Kodak said the plant would not be outputting the dye-sub paper until the middle of 2006. In the meantime, the Colorado facility, which has been operating at maximum capacity, is being expanded to increase its capacity though it is not expected to be operating at the higher levels until April or May.

The shortage has not been in the paper stock itself, but in the ribbon that contains the inks that transfer the image to the paper. Only the 4x6 print size has been affected as 8-inch stock has been in ample supply. (PTN highlighted the dye-sub shortages for Picture Makers in an exclusive cover story last October.)

To somewhat crises-control the media shortage, Kodak had halted shipments of Picture Makers to new customers but all orders for Picture Makers are now being filled.

Kodak said the new plant would output media for not only the Picture Maker population, but for the highly popular EasyShare printer docks and the Kodak Professional 1400 Digital Photo Printer.

The shortage hit retailers at the crucial holiday period. Many stores simply hung "Out of 4x6 Paper" signs on their Picture Makers. Wal-Mart, for one, held back its available media until November-December when the customer's psyche would have been less tolerant to outages. Wal-Mart, and other stores, were able to cushion the impact by directing customers to Fuji Aladdin, or other kiosks, that were directly connected to on-site minilabs.

With the holiday period over it seemed as though the pressure was off somewhat. An informal survey of local stores in central New Jersey found: one Wal-Mart store had media, another didn't; one CVS store had media and another did not; two Walgreen locations did have the media.

Why did Kodak have such a shortage? Depends on whether one sees the glass half full or half empty. For its part, a Kodak spokesman last Fall said, "We are pleased that consumers are responding so positively to the Picture Maker."

Others have questioned Kodak's forecasting methods. With the number of Picture Makers that were being shipped, they say, the forecast folks should have had a better handle on what the needs would be for the consumables.

As a rising tide floats all ships, other brand kiosks that use dye-sub media have also been experiencing higher burn rates as consumers are becoming more relaxed with kiosk printing. They reported no media shorts. Of course, their equipment population is only a fraction of the huge Picture Maker presence in stores and a similar percentage increase in demand would not quite have the same impact.