MAKING THE SWAP TO SHR™
All over the world, photofinishers have begun turning to alternative photo printing methods in an attempt to circumvent the challenges that accompany traditional silver halide methods. Over the past few weeks, Nobelus® University has covered silver halide replacement (SHR), a process that uses digital printing technology in conjunction with premium laminating solutions to produce high-quality photographs, and what equipment is needed to use it for photofinishing. This time, we’ll be taking a closer look at what SHR looks like in a real-world application by following the journey of HR Imaging™ Partners, Inc., a photofinishing operation that has adopted SHR into their process with spectacular results.
HR IMAGING PARTNERS
Based out of Ottawa, IL, HR Imaging Partners is a family-owned business that specializes in school portraits and yearbook photography for students at elementary, middle, and high schools. The company puts great emphasis on enabling students to express themselves through studio props and interesting backgrounds. With nearly half a century’s experience in the photo industry, HR Imaging Partners is no stranger to traditional photofinishing methods. “We started out shooting on film and doing all the traditional, conventional processing and printing of work,” says Michael Chambliss, the company’s Digital Development Manager. However, like most photofinishers today, HR Imaging Partners began to experience issues directly related to the silver halide process.
A NEW WAY FORWARD
While the company cites many reasons for the decision to move away from more traditional processes, the need to replace outdated equipment ultimately dealt the final blow against silver halide. “We were in a position where we needed equipment, whether we continued with the silver halide process or not,” explains Chambliss. “[In] the past 10 years, I’d say, that process has become a little antiquated… and we felt that it was time to make a change and to figure out whether we wanted to actually invest in new equipment or whether we wanted to go to the next level.” Chambliss also cites poor production times and skyrocketing costs of silver halide materials as concerns HR Imaging Partners hoped would be addressed by adopting a more modern system. “It made no sense to continue with [silver halide] when we could save 35% on cost of goods, which easily made our equipment payments with all new equipment,” says Chambliss.
Eventually, the company’s leadership decided to take the plunge and leave silver halide behind. They bought a digital press and began processing photos faster than before. Still, these digitally printed photos needed a higher level of protection than the chemical processes and photo paper HR Imaging Partners had been using for decades. After much research and deliberation, they chose to partner with Nobelus for their laminating needs. “After looking at different laminators, different UV coaters, and running lots of tests, I chose Nobelus because they were able to provide something that would keep up with our rate of production during our busy season, give us that exact look and feel that ended up being a conventional silver halide print, and also save us a lot of money,” states Chambliss.
Today, HR Imaging Partners continues to enjoy the benefits of the SHR photofinishing method through modern digital printing technology and high-speed lamination. Chambliss summarizes the effects changing over to SHR had on the company’s bottom line: “The cost savings of going with an SHR product were in the neighborhood of 30-35%. It was in the neighborhood of 750,000 prints that you were making in a 60- to 90-day period. We cut out weeks of production time. We were in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 days from the time we photographed a student; we’re now at 7-10 days.”
You can find video of Chambliss’s interview and several other case studies here.
TIME TO TRY SHR?
The HR Imaging Partners story is just one in a long line of photofinishers who see the appeal of the cost savings and reliability of SHR. In a time of severe supply chain shortages, lengthening delays, and ever-increasing material expenses, photofinishers need alternative photo printing methods that can replace or supplement their silver halide workflow more than ever before. If, like HR Imaging, you want to take your operation to the next level and stop relying on silver halide, Nobelus is ready to come alongside you and make sure you have what you need to implement SHR, from our specially designed PlatinumSHR™ Laminate to a range of GMP laminating systems. We have a dedicated customer care team that provides clear information, in-house service technicians who will ensure your laminating systems stay in peak condition, and solutions experts who can guide you each step of the way as you navigate this new workflow.