Since its unveiling at Drupa 2012, the Landa S10 has brought excitement to the printing industry. Nanographic technology offers an unprecedented degree of accuracy and speed. But it’s only in the past year that the S10 has found its home in actual printing businesses in the UK: specifically, at Rotherham-based printing company Instantprint.
What is Nanographic Printing?
The first thing to notice about this process is the size of the ink droplets. Each is just a few nanometers from one side to the other. Billions of these droplets are ejected onto a heated conveyor belt to create an ultra-thin, high-gloss polymer sheet. The image can be transferred to any sort of paper without the need for special treatment. It adheres completely, and, since the drying process takes place before the paper is involved, the material can be handled and shipped instantaneously.
The technology looks to create short and medium-sized runs of a quality usually reserved for higher-volume materials. This is something that neither digital nor traditional offset printing can offer at a profitable price.
The ink used is water-based, and produces minimal waste relative to the oil-based alternatives. The colour process is fourfold (CMYK), but it can be expanded to seven (CMYK+OBG). The former palette covers around 84% of Pantone colours, while the latter covers around 96% of them – meaning that the technology is close enough, colour-wise, for almost every application.
Although a high-quality final image, it is the convenience that the technology offers which may ultimately see it take the place of more conventional methods. Drying times and primer represent considerable headaches for those in printing. And throughput matters, too. Able to print single or double-sided onto any paper stock, at up to 13,000 SPH, the Landa ticks quite a few boxes.
Making things more convenient is the automated nature of the Landa S10, which allow a single untrained operator to oversee the machine. These features, of course, are not unique to Landa’s process – but they will still help to ease the pain of acclimatisation for early adopters.
Of course, the physical size of the machine, to say nothing of its cost, means that it’ll be awhile before nanographic printers start turning up in offices and homes across the world. Still, it’s a technology that might conceivably make high-quality printed materials more accessible and affordable for everyone. The long-term success of the technology, with that said, will depend on how well-received and reliable these initial units prove to be. Nanography shows huge promise; time will tell whether it delivers.