By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
I have a soft spot for Kodak. So news that they are exiting Chapter 11 was a bright spot for me. I started my print selling career in a division of Kodak, called Itek Graphics. Since I knew nothing about print at the time in 1975, I was sent to their training centre in North London and spent a couple of weeks getting to grips with offset lithography. I was amazed to find that all the colours that were being printed on a sheet came from only three colours and black.
Back in then the original colours were separated in a darkroom, using a camera and filter and the image projected onto a piece of film through a film screen. A very mechanical process, but the understanding of it stood me in good stead for my career – selling daylight cameras, plate makers and photo-typesetters.
My surprise at finding CMYK as the basis of all colour printing has been rekindled several times over the years. Once that scanners started to do the colour separation electronically, that stepped the process up a gear, but they still output film.
The arrival of Apple Macs and full page make up, closely followed by computer-to-plate all added more technology to the process, making the colour separation more accurate, speeding up the time from artwork to plate and all the time adding increases in quality to the finished image. The difference today between a product conceived and processed electronically and those early technologies of the 1970s is a massive leap forward.
So you would expect the final stage of putting ink onto paper to have been similarly advanced over the years, but that is not always the case. Despite many improvements in plate technology, we still coat aluminium with a photographic layer and then chemically develop the image before wrapping the plate around a cylinder and applying ink and water.
Benny Landa’s introduction of Indigo digital printing in 1993 impacted on small offset, but large offset lithography as a process has not changed a great deal since I first saw it all those years ago in Harrow. If you had told me then that it would take the science of making things very small to revolutionise this process, I don’t think I would have believed you. But that is exactly what is expected to happen now with Nanography®.
Ink pigments are reduced by Landa’s patented technology to a nano size, (one thousandth of a micron), to form NanoInk® . The need for a plate is eliminated, because the ink is jetted directly onto the offset blanket before transferring onto the paper or board by the impression cylinder.
Benny has invested huge sums in Landa Digital Printing, making the transition from an experimental technology to commercial reality. The result is set to bear fruit in 2014.
Nearly forty years after I first set eyes on offset lithography, it seems Nanography is set to ignite yet another revolution in print.