As drupa prepares to open its doors to the public, I am wondering if two announcements in the past week may indicate a major change in the printing industry, and also a new lease of life for two of the leading offset press vendors. From the time of the announcement of his return to the printing industry with a release at drupa, Benny Landa’s Landa Corporation was always going to be one of the highlights of the show. The Landa Nanographic printing technology has generated great interest with its claims to offer the highest quality digital printing with offset speeds and running costs. The announcement of a range of presses using Landa Nanography from B3 to B1 format certainly made me wonder how a new company could make such a major introduction knowing just how long it takes to bring a new press and a new technology to market. 

On April 27 we got a clue how this is being done. This was of a global strategic partnership whereby Landa Corporation will license Komori Corporation to manufacture and market digital printing presses for commercial and other printing markets using Landa’s Nanographic Printing process. Benny Landa, Landa Founder, Chairman and CEO, says, “We have enjoyed an intimate relationship with Komori, which is our supplier of paper handling platforms for our new Nanographic sheetfed presses. Komori was the first to be exposed to our technology and was the first to share our vision. I am therefore particularly delighted that Komori is the first-to-be-announced global strategic partner with whom we will be sharing this huge market opportunity.”

Then on April 30 another key announcement was made. manroland sheetfed GmbH of Offenbach, Germany, and Landa Corporation announced a strategic partnership whereby Landa will provide manroland sheetfed with its Nanographic Printing technology.

From this we can see the Landa go-to-market strategy is to partner with other key players. In this it appears that Komori is the key player as the provider of paper handling platforms for the Landa Nanographic printing presses. However it appears that Landa is looking at working with other offset press suppliers. In an earlier Landa announcement it was indicated that the complete family of Nanographic sheetfed and web presses would be unveiled. The sheetfed presses would be available as B3, B2 and B1 perfecting presses with operational speeds up to 11,000 sheets/hr, and the web presses would have an operational speed of up to 200 meters/min. Well so far we know that Komori is the sheetfed press partner for the Landa Nanographic presses. The next announcement we must look forward to is who will be the supplier of the web press platform?

These announcements are ones that potentially put new life into existing offset press suppliers by opening up new untapped digital press markets that will potentially replace offset markets. If this works out it will be the completion of the predictions made by Benny Landa in the 1990s that eventually digital printing will replace offset.

If these speeds can be achieved it will show that Landa and Komori have managed to get around the problems that have limited Fujifilm with their first release of their JetPress 720 sheet fed inkjet press. This was where the operational speed of the press was far lower than the speed of the Dimatix print heads mainly because of limitations in the way the offset press chassis they used operated. 

The speeds and capabilities of the Landa Nanographic technology are very intriguing; as they appear to get around the problems other suppliers have with inkjet technology. The Nanographic presses are claimed to be able to print on almost any standard substrate, including flexible packaging substrates, without any special pre-treatment or special coating, and with no post drying. I have discussed this with some industry experts and the theory we came up with for the technology is as follows. Nanography is an inkjet technology and based upon the performance I think it will use either Kyocera or Panasonic piezo print heads. Where it is unique is I think that Landa is using similar concepts that were introduced by Benny Landa’s Indigo operation in using an intermediate heated drum. The ink will be imaged onto the heated blanket on the drum, just like Indigo presses, and the ink will be dried and converted into a sort of ink film that will then be transferred onto the substrate. In other words Nanography may well be “Digital Offset Color”. Now haven’t I heard that before somewhere, also from Benny?

That is purely my projection, but come 2.00 pm on Wednesday in Düsseldorf all will be revealed, and the Landa show will truly be on the road. If it is as good as Landa is projecting, and with partnerships with key offset players, this will undoubtedly be “Landa’s drupa”. I have the privilege of doing a video interview with Benny Landa after the Landa Corporation press conference on Tuesday, and this should be on the whattheythink web site on Friday May 4.