The debate among print providers is building in intensity. Which technology will break through the barriers that have held digital printing to niche player status in the printing arena?
Digital Printing Struggles to Come of Age
Production digital printing, which recently celebrated its 20th birthday, has certainly shown steady growth since its inception. It has introduced highly successful applications, like personalized printing, print-on-demand, and affordable short runs. Let’s not forget other products born from digital – cross-media marketing, transpromo mailings, self-publishing and other market-pleasing offerings.
While growing overall, digital printing remains a single-digit revenue generator in the US$901 billion global printing industry. Most acknowledge that digital’s small share will rise only when the technology pushes the economic crossover or breakeven point much closer to offset.
The digital print technology that produces output with much higher automation, efficiency and productivity, as well as quality that equals offset, would be declared the hands-down victor. It would be the digital print standard-bearer that all others would strive to emulate.
Two digital print technologies – the Landa NanographyTM process and Inkjet – offer two vastly different choices. For providers weighing where to place their bets, the stakes are huge. The choice in investment could well mean between business success or failure.
Media Support Still a Thorny Issue for Inkjet Printing Presses
One of the ongoing points of contention for digital printing is media support. New B2 (29 in.) format digital presses drove some excitement at drupa 2012. Print service providers, however, have long begged manufacturers to develop a B1 (41 in.) digital press. On that score, Nanography® has answered the call.
Unlike any other digital device, including inkjet, Landa Nanographic Printing® Presses support B1 (41 in./1,050 mm) format substrates. By that alone, it introduces far more production efficiency and profit potential than others in the commercial and folding carton industries.
In the print provider’s eye, Inkjet digital presses also fall short due to their limited range of supported substrates. Most printers have come to rely on offset’s ability to print on any media. Support for all substrates affords printers the widest menu of capabilities and services for their customers. They feel hand-tied when media choices are constrained.
The Landa Nanographic Printing® process supports a virtually limitless range of substrates. Meanwhile, inkjet and other digital process are still stuck at the B2 (or B3) stage in their evolution.
No Special Treatment for NanographyTM
In hybrid technology production shops, offset and digital presses are typically segregated from one another. Inkjet and other digital equipment are often housed in separate, controlled environments. Digital devices also normally require specially trained or a different set of press operators.
Unlike inkjet devices, the Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press needs no special treatment. It uses the same production paradigm as offset presses and can be placed literally side-by-side on the production floor with offset presses without any special environmental controls. It also uses the same substrates as the adjacent offset presses and can even use the same operators. In fact, with just minimal training, an offset press operator can produce digital output on the Landa S10 press: profitable short runs, variable data jobs (VDP) or even every-page-is-different (EPID).
Nanography® or Inkjet Printing Technology – the Proof is in the Process
Landa NanoInk® colorants serve as a breakthrough technology within the Nanographic Printing® process. It uses proprietary water-based ink with nano-pigment particles that measure mere tens of nanometers in size.
In the proprietary Landa print process, the media requires no pretreatment. The press ejects the ink dispersions onto a heated blanket; it then transfers the ink from the blanket to the substrate to form an ultra-thin film layer.
Unlike Inkjet, the media in the Nanographic Printing® process dries in seconds. It isn’t subject to cockling and it’s immediately ready for finishing. In short, it saves precious time and assures quicker turnaround for demanding print buyers.
The Big “Nano” Breakthrough
While offering all the signature benefits of digital production, Nanographic Printing® technology is in truth a new category of printing. It’s crashing through the barriers that have restrained digital from joining the print world’s traditional mainstream workflow. As digital printing enters its third decade, it’s a major milestone.