By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
Before Johannes Gutenberg, the world’s knowledge was in the hands of very small number of royalty and clergy. They controlled its distribution carefully and it was reproduced by hand in monasteries. It was the way that rulers kept their people subjugated. They had the knowledge and people deferred to them.
Gutenberg revolutionised the process by making mass production possible, and the world’s knowledge fell into the hands of ordinary people – starting a social and industrial revolution.
Of course the manufacturing process has changed a lot since Gutenberg – with improvements in quality, colour, speed, substrates and finishing. And with technology going from stones, and cold and hot metal – other methods like lithography, flexo and gravure have taken its place.
The actual process of knowledge sharing though did not change. Knowledge was manufactured in one place, perhaps in the form of books or pamphlets, and then distributed to end users for consumption. Manufacturing of print came first; distribution of printed products came second. This process of knowledge sharing lasted for several hundred years – until Tim Berners-Lee changed the rules again.
While Gutenberg transformed knowledge distribution with his revolution in manufacturing, Berners-Lee transformed the process again with his revolution in distribution – and at the same time caused seismic changes in the printing industry.
Now knowledge was distributed first, and printed second. Think airline boarding passes and concert tickets. The knowledge is created and distributed electronically and printed on a device sitting on your desk in the office or home. The same number of pages is still printed, but they are printed individually rather than mass produced in a factory.
Though the Industrial Revolution, caused in the main by the revolution in printing, created mass production of all sorts of products on an industrial scale, it had no impact on the way they world handled food or medicines. When Gutenberg was developing his press, packaging consisted of a cloth wrapped round a cheese or a stone bottle for wine or beer.
The knowledge revolution did however significantly influence packaging. Suddenly details were required to inform purchasers of the content of the package, or later still, to entice them to buy.
Packaging has come a long way, particularly in the last fifty years, as commercial and social demands have created a need for knowledge about the product, manufacturer, origin and price to be included on the packaging.
In packaging, Tim Berners-Lee’s invention has yet to have the same impact as in other knowledge areas. Packaging manufacture is still an industrial process and a long way from being produced on a desktop printer.
But there is another revolution on the horizon – Benny Landa’s Nanography®. By bringing digital printing in an industrial scale to packaging converters, packaging information can be targeted even to individual consumers. Personalised containers for food and drinks, language content for local dialects and tongues, marketing campaigns for individual regions or groups – all are exciting brand owners’ imagination when learning about Nanography.
It may just be possible that one of these days Benny may come to be spoken of in the same breath as Johannes and Tim.