Nano Bits. When Nano Meets Print.

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Monday, 26 January 2015 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

For today’s youngsters in the age of smartphones, the ability to take a photograph and see the result immediately is accepted as the norm, but it was not always the case.

Not so very long ago, the likes of Agfa, Kodak and Fuji dominated the camera film market and the rolls of 35mm film exposed in our cameras needed developing and processing before we could see if we had blurred the image, got it out of focus, or missed the shot altogether.

Of course it was far too late by that time to do anything about it. The prints came back from the chemist or photo retailers in a paper wallet. Chances were you looked at them once and then they ended up in the bottom of a drawer never to see the light of day again.

In those analogue days there was another revolutionary technology beloved by fashion and portrait photographers the world over – Polaroid. Invented by Edwin Land in 1948 it enabled a picture to be taken and developed in the camera in about sixty seconds. It was not instant photography but it was pretty close. When Land left the business in 1980, Polaroid was a $1.4billion business and his cameras were in use around the world.

Polaroid inventor, Dr. Edwin Land on Life Magazine cover.

Dr. Edwin H. Land and his instant-printing Polaroid camera

I remember that Polaroid had a venture into the graphic arts market in the early 1990s, when I was Managing Director at Litho Supplies. If you will pardon the pun, they developed a business with the Linotype Corporation to supply instant typesetting film for a Linotype film setter. These were the days when phototypesetting film needed a processor with two tanks of chemicals and constant running water, so the attraction of self-developing film was obvious. Unfortunately it was not a great success – computer to plate was just around the corner to steal the market from film. Polaroid eventually filed for Chapter 11 in the early 2000s and although still an iconic brand like Kodak, Agfa and Fuji, we assumed that was the end of the line.

Now however Polaroid has resurfaced with a range of products for the digital age. The Cube is an all action digital photo or video camera, with its name giving the clue to its shape – similar in size to a piece of 35mm film and bearing the classic colour spectrum border that graced its cameras in its hey-day.

Not content with venturing into the digital camera market, Polaroid has introduced a combined digital camera with instant printing using zinc film and dye crystals which are heated to produce the print in seconds. Polaroid has also opened a series of photo bars in the USA where customers can upload smartphone pictures to a printer using the same technology.

Nanography® Is Digital Printing, Reinvented for Mainstream

Come to think of it, reinventing a technology is not a bad idea. Suppose you could get the benefits of Lithographic printing – quality, run length and price combined with the immediacy and variable content of digital print – and called it Nanography® – that would surely be a winner!

Benny Landa and the Landa S10

Benny Landa, inventor of Nanography® and recipient of the Edwin H. Land medal for pioneering achievements in technology

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Landa S10 - Printing Press