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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Custom Printing: An Update on Nanography

I have often praised the HP Indigo in PIE Blog articles. I consider it to be state of the art in digital electrophotographic printing. When my brokering clients need the highest levels of color saturation and detail in images, and when the length of their press runs warrants digital custom printing, I always seek out vendors with HP Indigo equipment.

This particular technology was invented and developed by Benny Landa, an Israeli entrepreneur who has also been working to perfect “Nanography.”

The good news is that Landa’s new digital printing technology has been significantly improved and, according to trade journals, will be showcased at the upcoming Drupa, the international printing trade expo held in Düsseldorf. In fact, Landa has apparently increased the space reserved at Drupa 2016 for his technology.

What Is Nanography?

I found an instructive video on the subject called “The Landa Nanographic Printing Process,” by Landa Nano. It’s easily accessible through YouTube, and I would encourage you to see it. It’s short, but it gives you a grasp of the science behind Nanography.

In short, millions of microscopic particles of Nanoink are sprayed onto precise positions on a heated conveyor belt traveling through the press in order to form a color image for printing. The heat of the conveyor belt removes the water from the ink and lets the ink droplets blend into a flat, but incredibly thin, polymer coating (500 nanometers thick).

Because of their chemical properties, the resulting images of Nanoink on the heated conveyor can be transferred to any kind of paper or plastic. Due to its chemical properties, not only is the film of ink very thin, but it is also an incredibly strong polymer. Therefore, it not only transfers easily from the conveyor to the substrate, but it also forms a strong bond with the substrate and resists abrasion far better than other custom printing inks.

The process is also quite versatile in that paper does not need to be pretreated, and Nanographic presses can be fitted to accept either rolls or sheets of coated and uncoated paper, as well as labels and plastic sheeting for packaging (which would usually need to be printed via flexography).

Before the image is even transferred to the paper substrate, the Nanoinks have already dried, so sheets leave a Nanographic press ready for subsequent printing or finishing. This means the press sheets can immediately be backed up (printed on the opposite side of the sheet), or, if the press is so configured, both sides of the sheet can easily be printed at one time. In addition, press sheets are immediately ready for trimming, folding, or any other post-press process since no drying time is needed.

New Developments in Nanography

Other videos I have seen online show the Komori presses that have been fitted for use in Nanography, and the state of the art consoles used to run these presses. The videos also discuss the enhanced inkset, which (in many cases) includes cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange, violent, and green. Such a large color gamut allows for matching most PMS colors with the existing inkset.

The Benefits of Nanography

These are the implications of the Nanography technology and the feature set of the presses noted above. They are staggering:

  1. Landa Nanoink holds an exceptionally hard-edged, round dot. Unlike inkjet ink, it does not seep into the paper fibers. Rather, it holds its dot shape and sits up on the paper (i.e., it has superior ink holdout). Because of this, very thin films of ink will produce highly saturated, vibrant, detailed images and text, while allowing the paper substrate to reflect maximum ambient light.
  2. The Komori platform for the Nanographic printing process is a stable and well-regarded printing press. Komori has been a mainstay of offset custom printing for almost a hundred years. Therefore, one can rest assured that the press will feed, handle, and deliver quality press sheets even before Nanoink hits the substrate.
  3. The electronic console that controls every aspect of the process is state of the art. Therefore, quality imaging will be consistent, efficient, and repeatable.
  4. Nanographic presses are able to take B1, B2, and B3 sheets (or web rolls). Therefore, paper sizes ranging from approximately 20” to 40” are acceptable. This is a new development in that most digital presses have been in the (approximately) 13” x 19” page-size range. Larger acceptable press sheet sizes will allow Nanographic presses to compete with existing offset presses in producing much larger format commercial printing jobs, such as pocket folders and posters.
  5. Unlike offset printing, which only allows for reproducing multiple copies of a single original, Nanography is a digital process. Once the inked image leaves the conveyor and is bonded to the substrate, the conveyor is completely free of ink and can be used again. What this means is that Nanography will allow for variable data printing work (mass customization). You can make each image the same or vary each image infinitely. Therefore, it is possible to tailor each printed piece to the targeted recipient.
  6. Since there is no dot gain, and since the Nanoinks produce an exceptionally wide color gamut, the image quality of a Nanographic press is incredible.

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