Drupa day one – Landa hijacks the show with launch of nanography
One bright idea and a ton of showmanship has allowed Benny Landa to dominate the agenda of this drupa with his ‘clever’ ink that laminates itself to any printable surface. In a reprise of the launch of the Indigo digital technology at Ipex 1993, the Israeli technologist revealed his new visionary printing method – nanography.
In true messianic style he unveiled six prototype Nanographic Printing presses, three sheetfed, three webs along with a raft of strategic alliances with Heidelberg, Komori and manroland. The presses introduce a new style to the printing process, an iPad-type control ‘wall’ with touch-screen capabilities (pictured) and distinctive ergonomic press design. They are not yet ready for sale; for that we have to wait until the latter half of 2013. Landa says he is determined not to repeat the mistakes he made with Indigo in bringing the product to market too early. He maintains there are enough new mistakes to make without repeating old ones.
Behind the hype, the clever part of nanography is the ink, Landa NanoInk. Composed of particles tens of nanometres in size (his press release helpfully points out that one nanometer is about 100,000 time thinner than a human hair), they have light absorbent rather than reflective qualities. Encased in a water-based carrier the particles are laid onto a heated belt where the CMYK image is built up. The water evaporates, the pigments spread and flatten to an ultra-thin polymer film that is offset onto the paper. In effect the dry print is laminated on the substrate without water and with what Landa clams are astounding bonding qualities.
The prints available are far from perfect, not even saleable but Landa reckons it’s only a matter of tweaking the process. Certainly the colour quality is quite fine but there were artefacts, banding and scratching on the ones I examined.
Landa intends to be a manufacturer and supplier of nanographic printing presses but his larger vision is to encourage other press manufacturers to take up the technology in order to popularise its adoption. Without a monopoly he believes the industry will be more willing to access what he calls “digital printing for the mainstream print markets.”
Landa Corporation will hold a monopoly on the production of NanoInk, anticipating rivers of gold as other press makers pick up the technology, making their own new presses and integrating it into existing models. But that’s all in the future; for now nanography is the talk of drupa. Benny Landa’s second coming is likely to present all existing digital technologies with an existential challenge.
If he can work out the bugs in the system, and his track record says he can, all digital printing may well be nanographic printing in the future.