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Digital Commercial Printing Presses for Higher Profitability

Thursday, 24 July 2014 | By Bob Boucher

Commercial printing is among the dominant categories in the print industry, generating revenue of US$332 billion – 36% of the total global revenue of $US901 billion.

Driving revenue is irrelevant, however, without a sufficient level of profit. And commercial print margins are buckling under the relentless demand for short to medium size run lengths and faster turnarounds.

Commercial Printers Are Offering New Portfolios and Higher Value Pages

The scenario is clearly one of survival. All of the sub-segments of commercial printing – i.e., direct mail, advertising, general commercial printing, and Point-of-Sale/Point-of-Purchase – are scouting the landscape for solutions and technology delivering new business models that can bolster – or save – their bottom lines.

Not standing by idly, many commercial printing businesses have reconfigured their customer product lines. Their expanded menus offer diverse, marketing related services, such as list data management, creative and design services, offline and online fulfillment, and other non-print, yet billable, items.

As short- to medium-run orders mean fewer overall pages, many commercial printers are responding by producing pages with higher value. They’ve implemented new applications and tools, like web-to-print (W2P) automation, personalized, variable data output, and photographic based products, among others.

Print Technologies Aim at Shorter, Profitable Runs

Engineered precisely for short-run production, digital commercial printing presses address part of the dilemma – but only a part. Compared to offset printing, digital technology still takes a back seat in the key metrics of speed and quality.

While it recently produced its one-trillionth page, digital printing still accounts for low, single-digital percentages of overall print production. Operating in separate rooms on the shop floor, using a very limited range and size of substrates, and run by specially trained operators, digital commercial printing is still a niche industry category. It has yet to be integrated into the true mainstream of print production.

Always acclaimed for its long run capacity and high quality output, offset print technology is not the solution. Despite recent efforts to accommodate shorter runs, the total cost of ownership is cost-prohibitive for profitable short runs, taking into account the capital equipment, the make ready requirements, the chemicals, the plates, the floor space, the inventory, and maintenance.

The Landa Nanographic Printing® Process

Unveiled at drupa 2012, the Landa Nanographic Printing® Press combines the versatility of digital with the qualities and speed of offset. A new category of printing, Landa Nanography® uses Landa NanoInk® colorants – the result of a decade of nanotechnology research at Landa’s nanotechnology labs – and a unique indirect printing process that generates the offset quality and throughput that have eluded current digital technology.

Landa NanoInk® Colorants – Ultra-Small Pigments Make a Big Impact

In researching potential applications from nanotechnology – the science of ultra-small particles – the Landa team observed that ink pigments, when reduced to nanometric scale, become unusually powerful colorants. Based on its research, Landa created Landa NanoInk® colorants containing super-small pigment particles – tens of nanometers in size and about one-half the size of pigment particles used in offset ink.

Nanopigment-based Landa NanoInk® colorants are at the core of Nanography® and help make it a high-value offering for commercial printers. For example, the increased surface area from the pigments allow for more light capture, enhanced color brilliance, and more vivid imagery. The extraordinary output from Nanography® overcomes one of the significant disadvantages of other digital print technology and digital print machines – substandard quality – that have curbed their adoption and growth.

The Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press

The first available commercial printing machine model, the Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press, features a four-color unit configuration that prints up to 6,500 B1 (41 in. / 1,050 mm) pages per hour at 1200 dpi. Most important, it produces job lengths of 5,000 to 7,000 sheets more profitably than any other technology.

The Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press also works side-by-side with offset equipment – using the same media and requiring no special room or special operational skills. It’s the first digital printing press machine that is designed for operating on a commercial printer’s main shop floor. Since the introduction of digital printing in the early 1990s, Nanography® is the first to break into the mainstream of productive printing.

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Commercial Market