Landa: Serial showman lifts the tempo again
Monday, April 4, 2016
"It’s like composing a symphony and conducting an orchestra where none of the players have played together before, and they are all playing new instruments. For that to come together and turn into a symphony and not a cacophony requires a lot of things to come together.”
This musical metaphor is how Landa Digital Printing chairman and founder Benny Landa described the challenges the company has faced in bringing its Nanographic digital printing presses to market. Given that the presses were launched at Drupa 2012 four years ago, and we now know that they won’t ship until next year (three years after initially envisaged) one could be forgiven for imagining that such a delay would strike something of a discordant note.
Far from it. At a briefing at the Israeli firm’s Rehovot HQ, Landa is brimming with positivity. His tempo is most definitely upbeat. He’s almost ecstatic as he describes the quality of the samples now coming off the B1-format S10 sheetfed press as “[expletive deleted] amazing”.
He admits that he and his team underestimated the enormity of the challenge, but says customers are willing to wait, and he maintains that the Landa solution remains streets ahead of competing inkjet offerings, primarily because its approach does not involved jetting ink directly onto paper. “We are selling them a more economical way to do the jobs they’ve already got, with all the benefits of digital printing,” he states.
“The crucial difference is that all processes where wet ink contacts paper suffer from the same problems. Water wicks along the paper fibres and it’s very, very difficult to dry it with so much water in the paper. Therefore, inkjet is limited. It’s either high-speed or high area coverage, but not both.
“The fact that there is no ink-paper interaction is the fundamental difference with Nanography. No matter what you transfer to you get an identical image.”
Recent sample prints show impressive quality, although Landa is still in the process of implementing its Active Quality Management closed loop system that is designed to conquer familiar inkjet issues such as streaks caused by misfiring nozzles.
The firm claims its CMYK is 30% wider than offset and covers 80% of Pantone colours, while a seven-colour CMYKOBG Landa press will cover 93%, with “very rarely used” highly saturated pinks in the missing 7%.
Landa is targeting packaging and commercial printers with its S10 press in straight printing or perfecting mode. And he describes the flexible packaging industry that is the target market for the W10 web press as “thirsty for a digital revolution”.
However, Landa’s move into the separate area of foiling could also be a show-stopper in itself. The firm’s Nano-Metallography system could revolutionise the foiling process by holding out the promise of fast setups, no need for dies, and zero waste through the use of a donor system that is constantly refreshed with metallic nano flakes, which are applied only in the areas that have been printed with a special varnish.
Expect big crowds around this system at Drupa.
Yes, it would be easy to be cynical in the face of a further delay for Nanography. But let’s not forget that Benny Landa is the printing industry’s equivalent to Steve Jobs, and he’s known as ‘the father of digital printing’ for bringing Indigo digital presses to market in 1993. And Indigo also had a somewhat slow and painful ramp-up period as well, and look at where that is now.
There’s a huge wall at Tel Aviv airport that showcases Israeli discoveries and developments that influenced the world – Albert Einstein is on it, and so is Benny Landa.
His Landa Labs, Landa Ventures, and Landa Digital Printing operations now employ getting on for 1,000 people, while “hundreds of millions of dollars” have been invested by Landa and business partners Altana and Komori to bring Nanography to market.
And, come Drupa at the end of May Landa will once again be hosting every one of the presentations on the Landa booth. He’ll also be celebrating his 70th birthday at the exhibition. “Yes, I will do every show,” he adds. “After all I’ve only got eight or 10 more Drupas in me!”
What will be on the Landa booth at Drupa?
- Two S10 B1 seven-colour presses with hybrid coaters printing at 13,000sph
- S10P B1 perfecting press, top speed 6,500sph
- W10 web press for flexible packaging up to eight colours (white ink, which is not Nano, is in development). Prints at up to 200m/min
- New Nano-Metallography system for foiling, on an Omet label press