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An ultra-adaptable heated darkroom processor & washer for photographic prints&film by Graham New, inventor of the Nova Darkroom Tank.
An ultra-adaptable heated darkroom processor & washer for photographic prints&film by Graham New, inventor of the Nova Darkroom Tank.
8 backers pledged £3,511 to help bring this project to life.
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Optima12 Photographic Darkroom Print&Film Processor&Washer



We have managed to unlock some stretch goals despite not yet reaching the required values. The low numbers of backers also mean that the Optima is very likely to be produced well before the dates listed.

Optima12 is a revolutionary new darkroom processor/washer, a single unit that can adapt to the work you do and go on adapting as your skills progress. The unprecedented flexibility of the design means it is ideal for the darkroom enthusiast through to those who produce fine art archival and exhibition quality prints, from small to medium scale print or PCB production up to 16"x12"


Why a deep slot unit?

A deep slot processor has several advantages over trays

1. Reduced size

2. Reduced darkroom air toxicity (due to 95% reduction in evaporation)

3. Vastly increased chemical life (due to reduced chemical surface area)

4. Less than a minute chemical bath setup (an unlock goal of lids on the chemical process pods enable long term storage of chemicals within the unit)

5. Greater thermal efficiency


Whats different about this deep slot unit?

6. It is a complete unit. Optima12 is the first darkroom tank that acts as a processor, a washer, a film processor and a combination of the above.

7. It's unique design allows adaption. Separators, chemical/toner processes, flow pipes, holders and a heater to be added to perfectly meet your needs, to be easily replaced and upgraded as your inspiration and skill requires.

8. It has a unique wash system. Optima12 employs an upstream washing method that is highly efficient, uses remarkably little water and guarantees against newly developed prints contaminating the water of cleaner prints.

9. It has a quicker warm up time than any other processor. In addition to warming up the main water bath with a heater, hot tap water can be piped directly into the tank to prime the unit offering a warm up time of a few minutes.


Who is this for?

Anyone who has the means to expose photographic paper and has a darkroom. This unit is easier to use than trays. It is suitable for the beginner, as peripheries can be added as your skills and confidence grow. It is suitable for the professional and entirely capable of producing long print runs.


Will it be ready for Christmas?

No, but anyone who wants to give an Optima12 as a Christmas Present we can send out a serial number along with a photo and a card describing the Optima12 that can given as a Christmas present. We may also be able to include a laser engraved Perspex token. This is guaranteed to arrive before mid December 2018. You can give this in lieu of a gift and in time we can deliver straight to the recipient.


Who are you?

My name is Matthew New, I work for Novacrylics Engineering which is owned by myself and my family. We started an initiative called aiming to invent, patent and launch novel, high quality products and send them the world over. We wanted to make our work life more interesting. We wanted to work more closely with the communities we are already part of through our existing values, interests and hobbies. I have 20 years of experience in design and sheet polymer and laminate fabrication and I am a photographer in my spare time. We have launched two product lines so far both of which have been a resounding success. Details of both can be found on


What is the full story behind this?

My father, Graham New, is the inventor of the Nova Darkroom Slot Processor, in the early 1980's when I was 3 years old he started Nova Darkroom Equipment (which later became the Imaging Warehouse under different ownership). The sale of photographic tanks literally bought every meal I ate until I was 20 years old. I spent much of my childhood stood on a box in the attic peering over an enlarger board, immersed in the inky blackness and humid aroma of the darkroom watching my father expose prints. The distinctive whisper of him taking thick pieces of resin coated paper from a box under the desk is one of the first and most distinctive sounds I can remember. The darkroom is an alchemical place, one of the few places on earth where science and art are not just mutually supportive, but are inseparable.

My farther left Nova Darkroom Equipment some years ago when digital photography reduced the darkroom market significantly, this was the end of large volume sales, though to this day there is still a persistent market for those for who want a truly permanent image and who will not compromise on tonal range. Graham still produces low numbers of tanks for The Imaging Warehouse in much the same way they were first made. He also makes tanks and washers for other major darkroom retailers. We (or more specifically he) has been an unseen face behind much of the processor and washer market since they appeared. At 70 and 35 years old respectively both he and the products he makes need to retire. All the skills are not transferrable in a financially viable way, however there is still a need for archival print washers and processors, a promising and growing need considering sales in recent years.

Admittedly, the wet process is not the most convenient of ways to produce an image, but convenience is not the only value. The darkroom market has seen almost no manufacturer investment in recent decades. We wondered if given the opportunity photographers would support and match our own investment so long as we could present something new, something genuinely forward thinking. This prompted us to collaborate on a new design. It has been two years in the making and has drawn on Grahams experience of production and photography, it has utilised modern, leaner, more accurate and ecologically efficient production techniques than Graham ever had access to in 1983.

From the nine prototypes we have made over the last two years both he and I are happy that this will be the best functioning print processor and washer we have ever made. Instead of going through other retailers and compromising to their sales needs, the Optima12 will be designed and produced entirely with print and build quality in mind, to our own standards.


What does Optima12 do?

Almost anything you want it to do regarding processing and washing all types of photographic paper and film. Features include:

Room Temperature Processes: Optima12 can hold up to 3 external room temperature chemical processes and 5 internal cool chemical processes.

Temperature Regulated Processes: It can hold up to 5 internal chemical processes baths that can be heated accurately from room temperature to 45C

Film Processing (subject to unlock goal): The Optima12 has the capacity to process film. The central body can be used to heat up to 4 air tight polyethylene chemical storage containers and a Patterson pot.

Thermal responsiveness: The Optima12 has a rapid warm up time as the water bath can be connected to a hot tap. Priming the water bath with a flow of 45C hot water can heat 3 chemical baths from ambient 17C to 30C (62-86F) in just 7 minutes. The Heater will maintain that temperature accurately

Water efficiency: The unit has the most efficient flow rate to chemical removal of any washer on the market due to a unique water flow system that employs the natural characteristics of photographic chemicals.

Stop Bath/Static Rinse: If only used for washing prints, the Optima can use the three external chemical processes filled with rinseaid or static water rinses followed by 12 upstream wash slots.

Upstream Water Flow: The Optima12 has unique flow characteristics that prevents the water in any individual wash slot from contaminating water in slots containing cleaner water. Traditional washers simply dilute chemicals in the water as opposed to specifically removing them.

Flow rate meter: A flow rate meter allows accurate tracking of water consumption.

Ease of Maintenance/Compatibility: We have designed the Optima12 so that you can source spare components quickly and easily. Eheim heaters are available world wide in standard sizes with your power supply attached. Hozelock compatible fittings (standard garden hose fittings) are widely and cheaply available and likely integrate with your existing home water supply.

Inspection: The Optima12 is entirely transparent allowing inspection of the print from start to finish.

Print flexibility: The Optima12 can process any photographic paper or PCB board and is optimised for fiber based paper.

Print Safety: The Paddle Print Holders encapsulate but do not grip the print or perforate it with pins ensuring even chemical exposure. Human hands do not touch the print while wet, entirely avoiding kinks and folds. Workmanship Guarantee: We offer a lifetime guarantee on all issues caused by workmanship.

Product Warranty: We offer a lifetime product warranty whereby any damage to the item we will fix for free (delivery and cost of parts not included) 


What is the retail price?

The retail price is not fixed because what we raise during the kickstarter will create a more or less complex product. Once we have made some profit, then the distributors and stockists too, we expect the RRP for an Optima12+complete kit is likely to be around £1300, this is slightly more expensive than a washer of similar size, but significantly less expensive and adaptable than buying a washer, a processor and a film processor. The kickstarter offers a considerable saving.


What peripheries are available?

The pledge manager store (accessible to all backers after the kickstarter ends) will have 16"x12" Paddle Paper Holders, Wash Slot separators, Chemical Process Pods, Heaters and Flow Kits (used for attaching to an existing water supply).


How is it made?

The main body is 12mm thick ICI Perspex, more than twice as thick as other models on the market ensuring longevity, strength, thermal stability and insulation. Perspex is resistant to all darkroom chemicals. Optima12 components will be produced on a CNC router and laser cutter before being diamond polished. Every joint is sealed 4 times with a solvent weld which at a molecular level means that separate components effectively become a single piece of Perspex. All parts of the Optima12 are produced in house in our production facility by one of five skilled production staff totalling 100 years of combined production expertise. Each unit will be signed by the person who personally saw it through the entire production process from start to finish.


What is the difference between the three pledge levels?

You can pledge for an Optima12 Base Unit, which on its own can do nothing. If funded, when the kickstarter ends you will be sent a link to a store. Here you can add the was dividers and chemical process pods and any other periphery. You only pay for what functions you need.

You can pledge for an Optima12 + Complete Package, this is a comprehensive selection of wash dividers, chemical process pods and other items that essentially unlock 99% of the functionality of the Optima12.
This kit essentially opens up 99% of the possible ways in which you can configure the Optima12 for print processing and washing.


How flexible is the design?

The last Kickstarter was made by us but perfected by the community. We are encouraging of your help. We can't include everything you suggest but every single suggestion will be taken seriously. There is a lot of experience out there that we wish to tap into.


How realistic are the timescales?

You will likely receive your pledge before the date specified. We have been conservative in our estimates and have placed limits on the pledge numbers.

We guarantee those who are buying Christmas presents will receive a gift token by mid December.


What Peripheries and add ons can be unlocked?

The more the project raises the more resources we have to develop the product and peripheries and the greater the economy of scale, some of the savings from which we will pass on to you by way of free upgrades.

£2,000 Optima12 will be developed, produced and delivered to all backers with appropriate pledges. (GOAL REACHED!)

£4,000 FREE UPGRADE Laser etching added to flow meter for more accurate flow readings (UNLOCKED)

£5,000 Lids for Chemical Process Slots available in periphery store allowing long term storage of chemicals in the tank (UNLOCKED)

£6,500 FREE UPGRADE Adjustable feet unlocked for detailed calibration of pitch and roll. (UNLOCKED)

£8,000 Drip Tray unlocked and available in periphery store. 

£9,000 FREE UPGRADE In built spirit levels for accuracy of pitch and roll measurement 

Risks and challenges

The UniLab has already had significant investment on our part. The design has gone through nine prototypes as well as lab tests at the University of Aston Photography Department, alpha testing and beta testing. This product works and works spectacularly well. The only aspects that have any uncertainty concerning very fine details are the later unlock goals.

We (Novacrylics) will manufacture the Optima12 in our engineering facility in Warwick, UK. We have complete control of the entire process. Our production team has over 100 years of combined fabrication experience. As a company we have made a large portion of the deep slot processors and washers for the European (and world) market for the last 35 years.

The only realistic possibility of us not fulfilling pledges is if Perspex prices rise by more than 15% before February. This is extremely unlikely, but if it is the case we will not start production and will offer backers a top up fee to cover the cost or we will refund 90% of the cost of the pledges (which is the net amount we receive from the campaign after stripe/paypal/kickstarter/backerkit and exchange fees).

Previous Product Launches found here:

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    A Retirement Present for Graham

    Anyone who would like to contribute towards a present for Graham on his retirement would be very welcome to do so. We will address it from the photographic community. We will get him something he will enjoy (probably an old rusty hulk of a boat engine, which he loves to restore). He's a curious and eccentric fellow.

    Estimated delivery
    2 backers

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £360 or more About $463

    Optima12 - Base Unit (1st Wave)

    Base unit with no dividers or chemical pods which you add functionality to though buying add ons from the backer kit store

    1 x Optima12 (+ free unlock goals)
    1 x User Manual

    Access to Backerkit store to buy additional dividers, chemical Pods, add ons, peripheries and gift tokens.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers

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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £840 or more About $1,081

    Optima12 - Complete Package (1st Wave)

    1 x Optima12 (+ free unlock goals)
    11 x Wash Dividers (makes 12 wash slots)
    3 x Chemical Process Pods
    3 x Print Holders
    1 x Water Flow Kit
    1 x Film Developer Kit (if unlocked)
    1 x Heater
    1 x User Manual

    Access to Backerkit store to buy any peripheries not included (mostly unlocked goals) and gift tokens.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 4 backers

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    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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Funding period

- (35 days)