Reports out of drupa 2012 indicated that the nanoprint samples shown were not impressive, even streaked. At this trade show, however, the one-time naysayers listened intently and did not laugh unless the gregarious Landa smiled, which he does a lot. He acknowledged that the presses are not yet ready for market and won’t be for at least another year.
“Nanographic Printing Presses are not intended to replace offset printing, ... [which] will continue to be the preferred method for producing run lengths of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands,” Landa explained. “But the market is demanding shorter and shorter run lengths – and that’s where Nanography comes in – to enable print service providers to produce those short to medium run lengths economically, at offset speeds. That’s what we mean when we say that Landa Nanographic Printing brings digital to the mainstream.”
Nanography 101: How It Works
At the heart of Nanography are water-based NanoInk colorants that comprise ultra small pigment particles only tens of nanometers in size. (A human hair is about 100,000 nanometres wide.) In comparison, good quality offset inks have a particle size of approximately 500 nanometers. Ink in nanographic images is about half the thickness of offset images — translating to less ink cost.
These nano-pigments are extremely powerful absorbers of light and enable unprecedented image qualities. Nanographic Printing begins with the ejection of billions of microscopic droplets of water-based Landa NanoInk onto a heated blanket conveyor belt. Each droplet lands at a precise location on the belt, creating the color image. As the water evaporates, the ink becomes an ultra-thin dry polymeric film.
The resulting image is then transferred to any kind of ordinary paper, coated or uncoated, or onto any plastic packaging film – without requiring pre-treatment. The NanoInk film image instantaneously bonds to the surface, forming a tough, abrasion-resistant laminated layer without leaving any residual ink on the blanket.
Because NanoInk images are already dry, there is no need for post drying. Two-sided printing becomes simple, and printed goods can be immediately handled, right off the press, even in the most aggressive finishing equipment.
The ink will ship as a concentrate; just add tap water. Containers are designed to collapse as ink is consumed and are recyclable. While Landa Corp. claims that the water-based process is energy-efficient and eco-friendly, “Questions remain about the recyclability of @landanano printed materials and the lifecycle environmental impacts of NanoInk,” tweeted Don Carli, director of the Institute for Sustainable Communication in New York.