Landa takes on foiling, delays presses until 2017

Benny Landa is taking his nano know-how into a different area and aims to revolutionise foiling with a new metallisation system that promises zero waste. But customers wanting to get their hands on his Landa Nanographic digital presses will have to wait until next year.

Landa Digital Printing (LDP) opened its doors to a trade press delegation this week, ahead of Drupa in May. It’s the first time the company has hosted such a visit since the company’s launch at Drupa 2012.

The firm detailed the progress it has made with bringing its Nanographic digital printing presses to market, which Landa admitted had taken much longer than expected. As recently as last October he had hoped to have customer installations in place before Drupa 2016, but beta installations of the firm’s S10 B1 sheetfed press are now slated for early 2017.

“We underestimated the enormity of the challenge,” Landa told PrintWeek. “We are pushing the envelope in every single field we touch and it took us longer than planned. Yes, we’re behind, but that’s not the way customers see us. They see that we are years ahead.”

LDP has doubled its stand space at Drupa and will show four Nanographic presses on its 3,000sqm booth – two S10 B1 sheetfed straight printing presses, an S10P perfecting press, and a W10 1m-wide, 200m/min web press aimed at flexible packaging.

Landa technology will also feature on strategic partner Komori’s stand at the show.

The S10 presses will run at 13,000sph, which had originally been billed as a high-speed option. LDP showed the presses that will shortly be shipped to Drupa running at this speed this week, along with a host of samples on a range of substrates showing the vastly improved level of quality now being achieved.

Landa said the first beta presses will run at 6,500sph, with a field upgrade to the higher speed coming a few months after installation.

An Active Quality Management (AQM) closed-loop print quality system, developed with partner AVT, is also nearing completion.

LDP will run five theatre-style presentations a day at Drupa, all hosted once again by Landa himself, who accepted that some visitors might take a rather more sceptical view than last time around.

“I can’t blame anyone for being cynical, after all I originally thought that most printing would be digital by 2010 and I was off by 98%!” he quipped.

Landa insisted that Nanography’s unique attributes would still put it ahead of other digital printing solutions, even in the face of competing devices such as the B1 inkjet press from Heidelberg and other likely upcoming launches at Drupa.

“The crucial difference is, when you inkjet directly onto the substrate it is the crux of the limitations of inkjet because wet ink contacts the paper. Inkjet is limited because it’s either high-speed or high area coverage, but not both,” he stated. “I don’t see a single technology out there that can deliver it all, on ordinary paper at offset speeds.”

With Nanography, the firm’s nano-scale ink is jetted onto an intermediate blanket belt before being transferred to the substrate in one hit. Landa believes its combination of high quality and high speed will take digital printing into the mainstream.

Separately, LDP has developed a non-digital system to address the wasteful process of foiling. Its Nano-Metallography system holds out the promise of zero waste, halving the costs of conventional foiling processes.

Matthew Lightstone, vice-president of Nano Metallization at the company, described current foiling methods as “inefficient, slow and complex”.

The Nano-Metallography system can be integrated into conventional presses and will be shown on an Omet label press at Drupa.

The area to be metallised is printed conventionally (or digitally) using a trigger material that can be likened to a type of ‘varnish’ but with special properties. This passes under a donor roll that triggers the transfer of the metallic nano flakes, which are applied in a single layer just 50nm thick in a “physio-chemical interaction”.

The nano flakes follow the shape and contours of the trigger material, so if it has been screen printed in a thick layer it will give an embossed effect.

Lightstone illustrated the comparison between conventional methods and the new nano system by showing a huge pile of 700kg of waste foil rolls, which represented one month’s output from a local label printer. He contrasted this with a small container holding around 50g of metal required to achieve the same results.

“We’re going to use Drupa as an opportunity to talk to customers about the potential for this,” Lightstone said. “We are eliminating waste foil entirely.”

LDP will focus on labels as the first market for the technology, which is also expected to become available next year, although it is also possible to metallise entire objects using the process.