Benzion “Benny” Landa likes to shake things up. Already a legend in the (digital) printing industry, the Canadian-Israeli inventor is adding to his dossier. If Landa’s new, trademarked nanographic printing process turns the industry on its collective head as the launch of his Indigo digital press did 18 years ago, the Printing Industries of America may want to reconsider the inspiration for its annual Premier Print Awards “Benny” trophy. (Benjamin Franklin who?)
Now that the exhibitors have gone home and the drupa dust has settled in Dusseldorf until 2016, many people are scratching their heads, asking themselves, “What just happened?” Many had assumed that Landa, now 65, was resting on his laurels, enjoying his fortune. Hewlett-Packard, which bought Indigo 10 years ago for $880 million in cash and stock, would ask him to speak on occasion, out of respect and as an “advisor” to the company. This was a formality for the figurehead, the self-proclaimed “father of digital commercial printing,” and the face of Indigo – the little digital press that could.
It turns out that Landa is quite restless and not yet content to retire or even semi-retire. The innovator has been busy. “To me, the satisfaction isn’t the money,” Landa was quoted in the July 10, 1994, issue of Businessweek. “Creating an upheaval in a major industry is where I get my thrills from.” That should have been a clue to all of us.
Last month he revealed, “The Landa Nanographic Printing process is the result of 10 years of nanotechnology research. It is a true breakthrough that enables our presses to achieve amazing results.” Benny has always been all about the science of printing – and ink. In Indigo’s case, the secret formula is found in the specially formulated HP ElectroInk, which becomes a plastic film when it hits the heated “blanket” cylinder. Now, he is bringing a new consumable to the marketplace.
Secret Nano Formula
Landa is too smart to give away trade secrets. The man has 700 worldwide patents to his credit and counting. For the past decade, he has been developing and perfecting NanoInk, working in secret inside a lab with no windows near Tel Aviv. His team includes some 150 engineers and physicists. What we do know is this: His NanoInk is very tiny. Nanotech is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Particles are measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. What Landa Corp. and Landa Labs have discovered is that nano sized pigments have extraordinary qualities: They become amazingly powerful colorants, enabling an entirely new kind of digital printing.
At the heart of Landa’s Nanography (see sidebar for details) are water-based colorants that comprise ultra small pigment particles only tens of nanometers in size. The width of a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers. For a printer’s bottom line, this means less ink cost: Nanographic images measure only 500 nanometers in thickness — about half the thickness of offset images — which enables Landa NanoInk to produce the lowest cost-per-page digital images in the industry.
In addition to being microscopically small, nanographic print reproduction technology is different in another big way. Unlike inkjet, there is no need to heat the paper -- only the ink, which is jetted onto an intermediate blanket. The blanket is heated to evaporate water prior to substrate transfer. The use of this transfer blanket explains why Landa uses the term “ink ejectors” instead of the more commonly used “inkjet head.” Landa’s nanography process can operate at extremely high speeds, creating images with remarkable abrasion and scratch resistance, its developers said. Most notably, it can print on any off-the-shelf substrate, from coated and uncoated paper stocks to recycled carton; from newsprint to plastic packaging films — all without requiring any kind of pre-treatment or special coating as well as no post-drying.