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World’s first sub-$10K ‘minilab’?

Photo Direct has announced a photo retail printing system combining LifePics software with DNP printers, with costs starting at under $10,000.

LifePics says its kiosk/online/mobile software is 'the first multi-platform integrated solution available in the world today.'
LifePics says its kiosk/online/mobile software is ‘the first multi-platform integrated solution available in the world today.’

LifePics has recently developed a kiosk-compatible version of its online photo ordering software in addition to its online and smartphone/tablet ‘app’ versions. The software will work with any PC running Windows 7 and a touch screen, so there is no major hardware upgrade required, and it’s compatible with a wide range of printer alternatives, from dye-sub to silver halide, to inkjet drylab to wide format.

The DNP printers, which handle sizes up to 8×12-inch, can be ‘daisy-chained’, delivering up to 1200 prints per hour. They are ‘sub-$2000’ per printer.

Steuart Meers said Photo Direct had looked at a range of alternatives but overwhelming feedback from customers was that if there wasn’t an affordable upgrade they would simply keep running their old equipment beyond its working life.

You say, “so what’s next, this can’t last forever” and they say “well it has to, because I can’t afford to buy another one”.

‘The key thing for us has been finding the software to make it all work. The Lifepics front end becoming available solved that. For the operators it’s very simple. And if you need more capacity you just whack in another printer.

‘You can invest less than $10,000 and be up and running with a same day service. After 8×12, install a wide format on the side and you’ve got a profitable business.

He said one of the attractions of the multiple printer system was that if one printer went down, it didn’t bring production to a stop.

Maintenance on the dye-sub machines is minimal and start up times are under one minute. Space requirements are also minimal as the printers are smaller than a consumer desktop laser or inkjet printer

‘We looked around at lots of solutions. We also have the Epson Surelab available, and the nice thing is, with the Lifepics front end we can talk to both of those. So it’s horses for courses.’

He said that cost per print at under 15 cents was competitive, but emphasised that operating solely in the 4×6 to 8×10 section of the market was a tough challenge in the current marketplace.

He added that this dye-sub printer-driven alternative was similar to what Kodak had been doing for a number of years, but at a far lower cost to the retailer.

Photo Direct has already sold its first system, with installations beginning next month.


  1. Stuart Holmes Stuart Holmes June 13, 2014

    C’mon Steu,
    Hardly a Worlds First??? The Kodak 6850, 7000 & 8810 Digital Dye Sub Printers have been available for many years, all at very competitive prices and now Kodak Alaris have released the New ‘ubiquitous impulse’ Retail Print Market Smartphone (iPhone & Android) Tablet Kiosk & 305 Dye Sub Printer (sub. $5K) (Demonstrated on the IPS Stand at last years IDEA Show) – It’s a Fun device, for Smartphone Printing, anywhere/ anytime Please see:
    Bring on the Competition 🙂
    Cheers, (the Other Stuart)

  2. Patrice Hugron Patrice Hugron June 13, 2014

    Stuart, the world’s first comment also took me by surprise since we’ve had an integrated mobile / online / kiosk solution on the market for quite a while now as well!

  3. VOR VOR June 16, 2014

    If I get Tim’s drift, we seem to be driving our quality and price of equipment into the eventual affordability for our customers. Soon there will be no reason or point of difference for our customers to shop in our stores. When will we learn that driving the prices down from equipment to the print, devalues our product and our relevance. We need to find new products and a new demographic. For the present one is slowly ageing!!

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