The Cost of Film Production May Give Us One Clue Why Film May Not Be Available for Western Blot Imaging in the Future?

Do you know which raw materials are required for producing photographic film? Or, how the changing prices of these goods affect your final cost as a consumer?

The raw materials for film production are some of the world’s most mined natural resources, and thus subject to swinging market prices. Let’s take a closer look at the layers of photographic film and the goods and processes that go into manufacturing the final product. But first, a question:
[polldaddy poll=7597528]
(See the bottom of this post for the answer. :-))

Here is an example of the layers you find in a typical photographic film – the kind you might use for developing Western blots in your lab.
Composition of Film
The top layer, the layer that reacts to light exposure, is the Photosensitive Emulsion Layer. This layer is dull and tacky, and is produced by dissolving silver bars in nitric acid to produce silver halide grains. These photosensitive grains are then suspended and bound in a gelatin solution made from animal hide and bones.

The middle layer, the Film Base, is smooth and shiny. There are three major types of film bases:

  • Cellulose nitrate,
  • Cellulose acetate, and
  • Polyester.

Cellulose nitrate is not commonly used because it is highly flammable. Acetate film was most commonly used between 1920 and 1970. But, because acetate base tends to deteriorate over time and with the invention of polyester, a move toward a new type of film was made in the 1950s. Polyester film, the type primarily used today, is composed from crude oil, or more specifically, petroleum byproducts.

The final layer is the Anti-Halation Layer. This layer prevents halo artifacts from refracted light and is composed of an opaque, heavy color dye. This layer is washed away during processing to reveal a transparent negative, which, in Western blotting, is the final data image.

Stay tuned for more information on how the prices of silver and crude oil affect the prices of film.

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Answer to poll question: Yes, photographic film is composed of everything from petroleum to cellulose from animal byproducts. Did you guess correctly?.

What if Film Was No Longer Available? How Would You Capture Your Western Blot Images?

Photographic FilmFilm has been the dominant technology for capturing images for photographers, medical practitioners, and researchers for more than 250 years. Now it’s no longer the sole option. Digital technologies are beginning to impact the future of film. Here’s how and why:

  1. Digital technology is being widely adopted across many different fields including photography, medicine, and scientific research.
  2. The affordability and supply of film has been threatened with the increase of raw material and production costs.
  3. New rules and regulations have been passed in relation to global preservation and green movements.

Because of this, several prominent companies including Kodak and Fujifilm have reevaluated their business initiatives and made decisions regarding the manufacture of certain film-related products.

Get out of the DarkroomIn addition, many universities and institutions are reconsidering their rules and regulations for the disposal and use of hazardous wastes. In general, policies are being made more stringent and punishments for non-compliance more severe. In fact, many new research and medical buildings are being built without darkrooms or the equipment necessary to process film.

Being aware of how these issues, and others, affect the future of film is essential to being able to continue the same quality, or better quality work than you are producing now. Preparing for the future by considering alternative imaging options is becoming more and more essential—especially when processing film comes with additional expenditures and concerns, and requires protocols that rely on toxic chemicals and large amounts of water.

Our next blog post will show you how the cost of raw materials influences the availability and cost of film.

Related Posts:

  • What is the Future of Film Use for Western Blot Imaging?
  • The History of Film. What Does It Tell Us About The Future of Using Film for Western Blot Imaging?
  • The History of Film. What Does It Tell Us About The Future of Using Film for Western Blot Images?

    small green question markIf you capture Western blot images, chances are you use photographic film and it is fundamental in your daily research activities. But, how much do you really know about it? What IS the future of film use for Western blot imaging?

    Test your knowledge with the questions below:

    Poll Question 1:
    [polldaddy poll=7475861]
    More than 100 years later, Louis Daguerre, a French painter, placed liquid iodine on a silvered copper plate to capture images. He called this process daguerreotyping. Later, in 1875, German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen accidentally discovered the X-ray while observing one of these photographic plates.

    Poll Question 2:
    [polldaddy poll=7475874]
    In 1885, George Eastman, an American entrepreneur, invented the first flexible film. Four years later, the first film camera was introduced and KODAK was born.

    Poll Question 3:
    [polldaddy poll=7475881]
    Follow the next five blog posts to learn about how film’s solid foundation and wide use has been interrupted by recent technological developments.

    Related Posts:

    • What is the Future of Film Use for Western Blot Imaging?
    • Here are the answers to the questions. Let’s see how you did.

      • Poll Question 1: white to purple
      • Poll Question 2: his wife’s hand and wedding ring
      • Poll Question 3: 1979

      How did you do? Tweet us your score (3 of 3, 2 of 3, 1 of 3) to @WesternBlotting. We’ll retweet you!

      What is the Future of Film Use for Western Blot Imaging?

      Western Blot and Hand X-RayX-ray film is a researcher’s Western blotting staple. Chances are you, and many others like you, rely on photographic film to generate results every day. But did you know that the future of this historical technology is being threatened?

      Without warning, several modern day innovations have begun to impact its availability. We’ve gathered the facts, and put together some startling information on the future of film.

      It’s not clear exactly how long we have until photographic film becomes obsolete, but factors such as:

      • product demand
      • the price of raw production materials, and
      • the decisions of manufacturers

      will all have a significant influence on film’s future over the next several years.

      Follow the next six blog posts to learn how the three factors above have and will influence the future of photographic film.

      If you are starting to worry about film going away, find out about digital imaging for chemiluminescent Western blots or infrared fluorescent Western blots!

      Use Near-Infrared Fluorescent Probes for Pharmacokinetics and Biodistribution Studies

      In Vivo Imaging with NIR Fluorescent ProbesNon-invasive preclinical imaging methods are critical for development of imaging agents and targeted therapeutics. Pharmacokinetics is the study of what the body does to a drug with respect to biodistribution and clearance. Traditionally-used radiolabeled probes have limitations such as cost, access, and safety. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging offers a powerful alternative to radiolabeled probes for pharmacokinetics and biodistribution studies. NIR fluorescent optical imaging agents can be used to image the whole animal over time. And, more than one agent can be tracked in the same animal if each agent is labeled with a spectrally-distinct fluorophore.

      In this webinar, Dr Amy Geschwender examines several case studies from the literature, and discusses:

      • Why NIR fluorescent probes are widely used for in vivo imaging
      • How fluorescence imaging of excised tissues and tissue sections is used to examine biodistribution in more detail
      • How to measure serum half-life and % injected dose per gram with NIR fluorescent probes

      This webinar features data from the Pearl® Small Animal Imaging System, which was recently honored by Frost & Sullivan, in addition to advancements in NIR technology. Click here to learn more about this award.

      Visit our website to learn more about BrightSite™ Optical Imaging Agents and IRDye® infrared dyes that can be used for your pharmacokinetic and biodistribution studies.