Benny Landa, the man who founded Indigo and started the digital printing revolution appears to have done it again with new technology which he calls nanography. The new technology is based around an ink system which uses pigment particles only tens of nanometres across and combines the versatility of digital printing with the productivity and cost-per-page of offset.
Landa sold Indigo to HP for 830 million US Dollars in 2001 after starting the company in 1993. Indigo now forms the cornerstone of HP's digital printing arm and three out of four digital presses worldwide are now manufactured by HP. After selling Indigo, Landa founded Landa Labs with the aim of developing nanotechnology in the field of energy research.
Once Landa Labs had achieved the breakthrough of creating super small particles, Landa himself was quick to see the potential for printing applications. The particles are a few tens of nanometres across, compared with an average toner particle, which is roughly ten microns across. In other words, the nanoparticles are hundreds of times smaller than toner particles. This gives them unrivalled light absorption qualities and incredible sharpness and uniformity, making it possible for digital presses to create output of a quality previously only achievable on a litho or offset press.
The dots are ejected from the printhead on to an ultra-thin polymer layer, which is then dried and pressed on to the media. Because the polymer doesn’t require heating to bond it to the paper and follows the contours of the paper closely, it can be used to create stunning results on almost any media. Landa is showcasing six new machines at the Drupa print media fair and is targeting the commercial packaging and publishing sectors, which he believes will be the 'sweet spot' for nanography.
At present, nanography is confined to commercial digital presses but the applications of nanotechnology are being explored in numerous fields so it will be interesting to see what impact this has on business and home printing in the future.
by Anthony Morgan