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drupa 2012 : Inkjet and B2 Digital Trend

June 2012 By Mark Smith, Technology Editor
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In the months leading up to the international printing trade fair, much had been said and written about drupa 2012 being another inkjet show. Those predictions proved accurate as far as they went, but that characterization is too limiting to capture the broader digital printing focus of the developments announced.

Any highlights report has to include Landa Corp.’s introduction of Nanographic Printing, for example, even though what the actual impact of the technology will end up being is an open question. The printing process employs piezoelectric heads, but the company doesn’t refer to it as inkjet printing in part because an intermediate blanket transfers the NanoInk to the substrate. 

There also was a mini resurgence of “liquid toner” printing technology in Düsseldorf, Germany, with several manufacturers promising to bring solutions to market. That qualifying statement actually was another recurring theme of the show, as the majority of solutions announced are not slated for commercial release until sometime in 2013.

drupa 2012 Digital Press chart
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Among the other trends in evidence were a focus on B2 format digital printing solutions and manufacturers configuring offset presses—including sheetfed models—with inkjet imaging units for hybrid printing or using them as building blocks for dedicated digital printing solutions. Although technically part of the above themes, it was also striking to see how much emphasis was put on digital solutions by the “traditional” offset press manufacturers.

Nanographic Printing

What helped make “Nanography” the talk of the show were the announcements that Heidelberg, Komori and manroland sheetfed had formed strategic partnerships with Landa to bring Nanographic Printing solutions to market. This is in addition to Landa’s plans to introduce three sheetfed and three web presses of its own. The agreements with Heidelberg and Komori cover the development of new printing press lines, whereas manroland reportedly is looking to retrofit existing presses.

Water-based NanoInk is the foundation of the printing process. It is formulated with small polymer pigment particles in the 50- to 70-nanometer size range and is “ejected” onto a heated transfer blanket that evaporates the water and creates a thin ink film (500nm thick)—thinner than offset lithography. The nano-size pigments are said to be powerful absorbers of light and produce sharp dots, high image density and uniformity, abrasion resistance and a broad CMYK color gamut.
 

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