By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
We are pretty good at inventing things in Britain, for example railways, television and jet engines. We invented cricket and soccer, but given the state of our national teams, I will gloss over those. However the latest invention to come out of the UK is a new nano-substance called graphene that was first isolated at the University of Manchester by two Russian born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. A feat that lead them to receive the Nobel Prize in 2010.
This new substance comes from graphite, the middle bit of a pencil, but once turned into graphene it takes on seemingly magical properties. It is very thin – a single layer is only 0.3 nanometres, much lighter and stronger than steel, can conduct electricity better than copper and almost completely transparent. I have heard that to pierce it, you would need to stand an elephant on top of a pencil and push the point through, not that anyone has tried that apparently.
There is a huge amount of noise in the media about how it is going to change the world we live in, since we will be able to create flexible touch screens, clothes that conduct electricity and the Gates Foundation is even funding research into the use of graphene to manufacture condoms!
Now I happen to believe that while we will see it replace many plastics and metals used in today’s consumer products, it will be the uses for graphene that scientists and entrepreneurs find in future that we haven’t thought about where it will have the biggest impact. Once you start thinking about having a substance with the properties of graphene, all manner of new uses and new products will be developed by cutting edge pioneers. Who knows what we will be wearing, eating, curing disease, driving and listening to in 2020 as a result of the work in Manchester.
Lighter, stronger, more flexible – the magic of nano*
In a similar way another nano-substance called NanoInk® pigment will be affecting the printing industry in the years to come. We already believe that a large proportion of conventional print and packaging will switch to Nanography® because it will be a much cheaper manufacturing process, but it is the other uses that Nanography will be put to which will have the most impact.
We expect to see some significant product developments in packaging and publishing as a result of being able to print large format sheets digitally. Likewise the increased range of substrates that are available to print on with Nanography will create new applications, with designers and brand owners pushing the boundaries of today’s products.
The extended colour gamut of Nanography will also provide new opportunities for designers. Once the first Nanographic Printing® presses are installed in Israel, Europe and the USA , we will be able to see what the innovators and visionaries can do with this new technology.
And who knows, but I am sure it may not be too long before we see both Nanography and graphene together in the same product.