In a further sign that Landa is moving closer to beta testing and production, Landa and Komori announced that the companies have extended their alliance through a formal licensing agreement. In addition, Landa has ordered production units of the Komori sheet-fed platform for use in the Landa S10, which is going into beta testing early next year and is expected to be delivered to customers in the fourth quarter of 2014. Landa added that it would be using Komori’s sheet-fed platforms for all of its sheet-fed Nanographic printers.
Landa said that since drupa its engineers have been evaluating proposals from European and Asian sheet-fed press vendors. Landa signed partnership agreements with three companies at drupa: Heidelberg, Komori, and manroland’s sheet-fed division. While other sheet-fed platform providers may have been considered in addition to these three, today’s announcement confirms that Komori has come out on top. Komori surely had an edge going into the evaluation process since it provided the sheet-fed platforms for the Landa devices shown at drupa.
The first machines to market will be Landa-branded products using Komori sheet-fed platforms. These will be the Landa S10FC (for folding carton converters) and S10C (for commercial printers). The agreement also stipulates that while Komori provides the sheet-fed platform, Landa will provide the Nanographic printing technology and inks for future Komori-branded Nanographic devices. Whether Komori will distribute the Landa-branded products in the meantime is unclear. The company said at PRINT 13 that its first planned joint products with Landa would be the 40″ sheet & web versions (S10 variations). No mention of branding was discussed. If Komori does choose to sell the products under its own brand, it will be interesting to see if it uses the ‘Impremia’ brand as it has in its partnership with Konica Minolta.
Today’s news is solely about sheet-fed offerings but there are roll-fed products in Landa’s portfolio. Indeed, Landa does expect that the Landa W10 (40” roll-fed) will be the next offering to reach the market after the S10FC and S10C. The web-fed versions that Landa showed at drupa were based on the company’s own platform. Landa had no comment today on any potential web partners. It may choose to go alone or it may conduct a similar platform search for a roll-fed partner. Komori would certainly be considered should Landa explore those options, given that it manufactures sheet-fed and web offset presses.
Both companies had kind words to say about each other in today’s press release, but the most intriguing statement was made by Komori President, Chairman, and CEO Yoshiharu Komori who said “We believe that the impact of Benny Landa’s new invention, Nanography—with the Komori platform—will have a far greater impact even than his introduction of the first digital printing press.”
What are the implications of this announcement? First and foremost, this news will help Landa build additional momentum as it heads into beta testing for the S10 products. The news also means that Heidelberg and manroland are out of the running as potential sheet-fed partners. In a conversation with Benny Landa this morning, he commented that his company would be ‘unlikely’ to add another sheet-fed platform vendor as a partner. The next interesting partnership decision will be for a roll-fed partner, unless Landa feels that it can develop and market that offering on its own. For Komori, the news solidifies its relationship with Landa at a time when it is also preparing to roll out the Impremia IS29 in conjunction with its partner Konica Minolta. This will position Komori with B1- and B2-format production color digital print offerings before long.
The Landa S10FC, S10C, and W10 are much larger in format than typical high-speed digital print offerings. While much of the focus of competitors is on B2, Landa has focused on B1. (Note: B2 format is 19.7 by 27.8 inches or 500 by 707 millimeters. B1 is twice that size.) Benny Landa says that “Mainstream printing needs large-format machines.” He also believes that there is a profitability gap in regard to short and medium run lengths. His vision of low-cost, high-speed, and high-quality digitally printed pages at B1 format will soon be tried out in production environments with the full support of Komori. Before long, the excitement that has been building since drupa will get its first true test.