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Dry Mini Labs

In basic terms, minilabs describe the set up of machinery which enable the production of photos within businesses that provide photographic services. In even simpler terms, they transfer images on to photographic paper.

Traditionally the equipment used for this process have been dominated by chemical minilabs . However, the advent of technology has inevitably meant that more efficient, environmentally friendly and more cost effective solutions have been sought and subsequently developed.

This new generation of equipment does not involve a wet chemical process and are therefore collectively referred to as Dry Labs.


Whilst traditional chemistry based minilabs continue to produce superb photographic prints, there are many issues which are becoming more and more difficult to justify now that dry lab alternatives are available.

Wet labs require a large working space due to the physical nature of their size. In addition, there are environmental issues connected to the amount of power required to operate these machines together with the chemicals required such as cost, availability, consistency and disposal of used chemistry. Service charges for wet labs can also be high when compared to their dry lab counterparts.

Some of the major benefits of wet over dry can be summarised as;


•  Lower purchase costs than wet labs
•  No chemical haul away costs
•  Reduced utility bills


•  Fast printer start-up and shut down times
•  Wider colour gamut prints
•  Consistent print results


•  Daylight paper loading
•  Less periodic maintenance with longer term maintenance contracts available
•  Less consumables required
•  Availability and cost of spare/replacement parts


•  No water required
•  Less power consumed
•  No chemical odours or safety concerns


When considering the purchase or exchange of a wet lab for a dry lab, there are options which need to be considered before making a purchase.

Two technological variants dominate the Dry Lab market, Dye-Sublimation and Inkjet. These refer to the type of printing technology used to produce a photographic print.

Dye Sublimation involves colour being applied to photographic receiving paper via coloured ribbons, whereas Inkjet printing is based on the application of ink via jet nozzles onto the receiving layer. Both types of print technology require specific photographic printing paper but give excellent results.

Tetenal work with two of the leading suppliers of Dry Lab technology. Kodak for Dye Sublimation Dry Labs and Epson for Inkjet Dry Labs.

The choice of machine comes down to many factors which can be look at in more detail by following the links below.