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Benny Landa's Revolutionary Return to Printing

Published on May 3, 2012

In a WhatTheyThink exclusive, Andy Tribute and Benny Landa discuss his return to the industry as well as an overview of his nanography press offerings unveiled yesterday at drupa. This interview is split into two parts, to view the second half click here.

Andy Tribute:  Hello.  This is Andy Tribute.  We've been privileged to have the opportunity to do the first interview with Benny Landa in his role as CEO of Landa Corporation.  In the videos you are going to see, Benny will outline how he came to create Landa Corporation and how then he evolved the new printing technology that is being shown at Drupa and is no doubt going to draw massive crowds over the next two weeks.

I would first like to say, Benny, congratulations on what has to be the most staggering product launch I've ever seen.

Benny Landa:  Oh, really.  Thank you.

Andy Tribute:  To do -- when you did Indigo in '93 with one press it was pretty amazing.  To do it where you are launching five new presses is like a massive –

Benny Landa:  Six, six.

Andy Tribute:  Six.  I'm sorry.

Benny Landa:  Five outside and this one.  Six.

Andy Tribute:  Okay.  So but the concept of that is quite amazing.  Now can I just ask you not so much about the product because there is a lot going to be written it but about Landa Corporation.

Benny Landa:  Right.  Yes.

Andy Tribute:  You left Indigo when you sold it to HP.

Benny Landa:  Right.

Andy Tribute:  And you started, what I understand, a sort of research lab.  

Benny Landa:  Yes.

Andy Tribute:  And this was looking into things like nanotechnology and what it might do.

Benny Landa:  Right.  Exactly.

Andy Tribute:  Did you start this on the basis you were going to come back into the printing industry with nanoinks?

Benny Landa:  No, no, no, not at all.  We started developing – after the HP acquisition, I started Landa Corporation and the object was to develop alternative energy.  And to this day Landa Labs has a major project on alternative energy.  But we found to develop this concept that we had for alternative energy for how to convert heat to electricity from the environment we had to develop very, very small nanostructures.  It's not easy to create nanostructures.  You do it either by self-assembly of atoms – which we do – or by reducing big things to very small sizes.  But it's very difficult to reduce big things to small sizes so we had to invent a new technology for making nanoparticles.  And we succeeded.  And we were able to make nanoparticles for our energy project. But what can you do when you got DNA – when you have ink in your DNA and coursing through your veins – as soon as this happened I said to myself wait maybe it will also work for pigments.  So we tried it and it worked fantastically for pigments.  So now we could make super small pigment particles, nano pigment particles.

Andy Tribute:   But you -- but you glue your pigments, you don't grind them down like everybody else.

Benny Landa:  No, we grind them – we don't grind them down – it's a very energy intensive process that breaks them.  Causes them to crack to subprimery particle sizes, of only a few tens of nanometers.  Now when you take materials and you reduce their size dramatically to nano a lot of fantastic properties – a lot of things change.  Metals get very low melting temperatures, for example.  Certain materials become super hard and can protect surfaces from abrasion.  Pigments when you make them into nano sizes become ultra efficient absorbers of light.  So now because – you now use nanopigments, you can absorb light more efficiently, you can how have a much, much thinner image and ink that has properties that are otherwise impossible.

Andy Tribute:  So once you've done and you saw the concept of making that effect – did you not go back to the Indigo principles of laser imaging and a carrier?

Benny Landa:  No.

Andy Tribute:  Or you thought inkjet was the way of doing that?

Benny Landa:  Well it's very simple.  The moment we had the concept that, hey, these nanopigments could create inks of extraordinary properties, one of these things it could do is it could enable water-based inks.

Andy Tribute:  Okay.

Benny Landa:  To be used in an offset printing process, which has never happened before.

Andy Tribute:  Right.

Benny Landa:  So we decided the best way of digitizing the ink is with what we call ink ejectors, which we distinguish from inkjets which jet onto paper and we – onto a special, thermally conductive and heated conveyor blanket.

Andy Tribute:  So you basically absorbed some of the technologies that you were using within the Indigo process but a heated blanket.

Benny Landa:  In Indigo, we developed the heated blanket which melts the dried ink and here that principle is similar.  But here we use water-based inks.

Andy Tribute:  Right.

Benny Landa:  And water-based inks gets ejected from these heads which we have to modify to make them suit our process but the basic technology for the heads is the same piezo drivers that were used for inkjet.  So we can leverage the billions of dollars that are going into research in inkjet and use these for our nanographic printing technologies.

Andy Tribute:  Now the benefit of that then is you're – as you say, you're taking the water out of the ink before it gets to the paper so –

Benny Landa:  Right.

Andy Tribute:  Then you're –

Benny Landa:  That's it exactly.

Andy Tribute:  Now how do you get it to stick on the paper because –

Benny Landa:  Okay.  Okay.  So as you said the first benefit is by driving the water out of the ink on the blanket you now never wet the paper.  You now create this super thin film which is like a hot melt adhesive but it's only 500 nanometers thick.  Half the thickness of an offset image.  And then when you transfer that – when you contact that to paper it bonds tenaciously to the paper.  And because you're not using organic solvents the drying of the ink doesn't effect the environment, it's environmentally healthy and it's green and you can develop polymers, which have this fantastic adhesion capability because you're not limited to the kind of solvents you use.  Water-based polymers can do this fabulously.  And so one universal ink adheres to every kind of paper.  Coated, uncoated, carton, every kind of plastic packing film.  Polyester, BOPP, polyethylene, which is a very difficult material.  This ink adheres to it all.  It is very abrasion resistant.  And because it transfers without any water the paper doesn't coffee, you don't need to dry the paper afterwards.

Andy Tribute:  This concludes Part 1 of the interview.  In Part 2, Benny will continue talking about his strategy of how he is going to market and how he's going to work with the other vendors in the industry.  They've already signed up licenses for this technology.

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