Printing

Printing

There are two basic kinds of printing technology — offset (traditional) and digital. Kainos Book uses both, and which we use for a particular job very much depends on the characteristics of the individual job. The most important factor is run length. As a rule, a run length of under 1000 copies — which represents most of what we print — will be printed digitally, and over 1000 copies will be printed offset.

Kainos Books specialises in digital printing. Our most experienced operators have been using digital printing equipment for thirty years — pretty much the entire life of digital printing — so we are vastly experienced — probably the most experienced digital printing operators in Australia. We were pioneers — with all the pain that entailed — when digital printing first appeared on the scene in the 1980s. We’ve had vast experience, operated all sorts of presses, and probably forgotten more than most people have ever learnt about digital printing.

What follows is a potted history of digital printing, a summary of digital printing technology, its advantages and disadvantages, the sorts of jobs best suited to digital printing, and some notes on the future of digital printing — and some “late breaking news” on perhaps the most significant change to printing technology for hundreds of years.

History

Digital printing burst onto the scene at the IPEX trade show in Birmingham in the UK in 1983. There were two machines launched at that show — the Indigo and the Xeikon digital presses. The Indigo digital press, built in Israel, was launched with much fanfare by Benny Landa, the managing director of Indigo. The Xeikon was built in Belgium. The Indigo is a sheetfed press and the Xeikon is web fed (reel fed or roll fed) press. Both of these early presses were not without their problems and made life challenging for early adopters.

In 1983, Benny Landa famously prophesied that within 10 years 50% of all printing would be produced digitally. Seventeen years later approximately 10% of all printing is produced digitally. Digital printing quality has progressed rapidly to the point where there is now virtually no difference in quality between offset and digital printing. Most printers now would feel they are disadvantaging themselves if they are unable to offer digital printing.

The main players in the market these days are as follows.

Indigo, now owned by Hewlett Packard (HP, thus HP-Indigo). There are many models. They are sheet fed, and use liquid toner. All other digital presses use toner in the form of fine powder. All digital press manufacturers make colour presses and with the exception of Xeikon, presses to be used only for black and white. Many manufacture presses for specialist applications such as for label printing.

Xeikon. There are a great many Xeikon presses in Europe and the USA, but only a few in Australia. Paper comes on reels, and the availability of a wide range of paper stock has always been an issue in this country. This is a great pity, as the reel fed nature of the Xeikon give advantages of speed and variety of formats over conventional sheet fed presses.

Xerox, represented in Australia by Fuji Xerox. Xerox make a vast range of sheet fed presses from small entry level devices up to the iGen 3 and iGen4 industrial strength machines.

Kodak. Kodak make the NexPress. The NexPress, a sheet fed press, was originally developed in co-operation with German offset press manufacturer Heidelberg, who sold their interest in the machine to Kodak. There are several models. They are vast, heavy, serious industrial strength machines with some unique capabilities, including some remarkable coating options.

Canon. Canon are reasonably recent entrants into the world of high end, industrial strength digital presses. They now offer a range of sheet fed presses, one of which has some interesting coating capabilities.

Konica Minolta. Konica Minolta make range of sheetfed digital presses which are gaining an increasing market share thanks to excellent performance and reasonable cost.

Océ. Océ manufacture a range of colour and black and white digital presses which are gaining increasing acceptance in the marketplace. Océ are particularly strong in the black and white market.

There are a number of other manufacturers but the brands listed above would account for the vast majority of digital presses in operation in Australia today.

The Digital Printing Technology

It is important to understand the difference between the way digital presses and offset presses operate. Offset presses operate by transferring an image from a blanket to paper. The image is transferred to the blanket from a series of plates. Plates are usually made of aluminium or polyester and every time there is to be a change of image new plates are required. Offset presses run very fast — up to 15,000 impressions per hour or faster. The great advantage of offset presses is their ability to print vast quantities of the same image in a very short period of time. Every time there is to be a change of image the old plates must be removed the new plates which have been previously imaged placed on the press and after a period of time when the plates are “run up”, the press is ready to proceed with the next part of the job.

Colour printing is made up of a mixture of four colours cyan magenta yellow and black. Offset presses use a separate plate for each colour, and another set of plates for the next image and so on. If different colours are to be used (Pantone colours instead of CMYK), additional expense is incurred cleaning the press and changing the inks. Offset presses therefore are very good for long runs of the same job but slow and expensive for short runs. The process of making new plates and “running up” the press is known as “make ready”. If the press has to be stopped and a new set of plates and a new make ready put in place for every hundred copies of a job, it is obvious that this would be an extremely costly and slow process. This is where digital printing comes into its own.

Images to be printed on a digital press are transferred electronically to a belt, a drum or drums, or a blanket. No plates are required, there is no ink to be washed up and changed, and there is no make ready. It is possible to switch from one job to another or from one part of the job to another in almost no time. These characteristics provide digital presses with great flexibility and it is possible for each sheet that comes out of the press to be different. Furthermore, digitally printed products can be “finished” (coated, guillotined, bound etc.) immediately because there is no need to allow time for the ink to dry.

Why, then, isn’t everything printed digitally? 

There are many reasons.

Firstly, digital presses are very slow compared to offset. they operate at around 25% of the speed of slow offset presses.

Secondly, the range of papers that can be used on a digital press is very limited compared to what can be used on an offset press. Digital presses generally require smooth paper — they do not handle mottled paper, paper with uneven surfaces — well at all. This is because all but one make of digital press use dry toner in place of ink, and toner does not spread evenly if the paper has “hills” and “valleys” in it. Some digital presses are able to cope with this kind of issue better than others. Furthermore, digital presses are usually limited to 300gsm or slightly heavier in the thickness of paper that can be passed through the press. Offset presses can usually print on much thicker card stock.

Thirdly, the format of digital presses is small. Most can print A3 or slightly larger, whereas offset presses can print up to four times larger. This conveys a massive advantage for long runs. If you can print at four times the speed, and, say, three times the paper size, throughput is twelve times faster, so a job that takes twelve hours on a digital press would take only one hour on an offset press.

Fourthly, the cost of running a digital press compared to an offset press (once you own it!) is very much higher. Digital presses are delicate, demanding, finicky devices, and they require a LOT of service. Manufacturers are typically remunerated for this service by charging their customers an amount for every piece of paper the machine produces, usually known as a click charge.

Fifthly, it is much more difficult to add a coating to digitally produced printing. Coatings are usually added to add protection (in order, for instance, to prevent scuffing), or enhance the appearance of the printed product. Coatings are usually in the form of spot or overall varnish (an extra coating of an ink like substrate, added during or after the printing process), or a laminate or celloglaze, which is in the form of a layer of a plastic material that is adhered to the printed product using a combination of pressure and heat. Varnishes often react with digital toner, and laminates or celloglazing can be difficult because digital presses generally add a layer of oil or wax to create a slightly glossy finish, and this makes it difficult to adhere the plastic to digitally printed products. Coating of digitally printed products tends to be much more expensive that for offset printed products.

Lastly, in the earlier days of digital printing, quality was an issue. In particular, digital presses were notorious for printing large areas of flat tints unevenly. This is rarely an issue these days, but early problems have left a legacy of suspicion.

What is the ideal job for a digital press?

Short runs

Digital presses excel — they are the only way to go — for short runs. What, then is a short run? The answer can be similar to “how long is a piece of string”. One thousand copies of an A4 flyer would be printed digitally. 1500 or 2000 copies would probably be printed offset. Short runs of books and booklets are perfect for a digital press, which can print anything from just a few copies up to, say 500 copies, more economically than offset. Short runs of postcards, greeting cards and calendars are ideal for digital printing. Click here to learn more about the advantages of short run printing.

Books
Digital printing has revolutionised book printing. It has provided authors with the opportunity to self-publish, thus by-passing the whole publishing industry, and enabling authors to retain the considerable margin they would otherwise lose to publishers. Self publishers can test the market with very small runs, and (perhaps surprisingly), retain greater control over both design and quality. Furthermore, authors can “print on demand”, printing a small run, then reprinting when the first run is sold out, and so on. This strategy greatly reduces the financial outlay otherwise required. Authors of specialist interest books such as family histories, local histories, year 12 school books, children’s books, fund raising books, theological journals, specialist medical books, and a vast array of other topics can print in quantities they can realistically expect to sell. There are many resources available on the internet to help self publishers prepare, print, then publicise their books.

Booklets
A booklet is generally defined as less than about 60 pages, and bound with staples in the spine (saddle stitched) rather than perfect bound (glued in the spine and with a square spine). Any such short run publication is a candidate for the benefits of digital printing. Such booklets might include recipe books, DVD and CD inserts, product information guides, training manuals, catalogues, theatre programmes, diaries, children’s books, music instruction books, tourism booklets, internal handbooks, price lists and the like.

Calendars
The calendars we all see in newsagents are mainly produced overseas, and in quantities of tens of thousands. They have a certain sameness and predictability about them. Digital printing enables individuals and organisations such as businesses, voluntary organisations and charities to produce very short runs of totally unique calendars — anything from about 25 copies upwards — in a variety of formats for prices that make calendars very attractive promotional and fund-raising products (users will be reminded of the organisation from whom they obtained the calendar every day of the year). Canny digital printers will do all the work, so all the customer needs to supply is photos, any special dates they need to insert, logos and captions.

Flyers
Digital printing is perfect for short runs of flyers used for such diverse purposes as newsletters, menus, tourism brochures, art catalogues, products promotions, event promotions, in-house information dissemination, real estate purposes and so on.

Greeting cards and postcards
One of the greatest advantages of digital printing is that many different designs can be printed for very little additional cost. There is not a great deal of difference in the cost of producing 1000 greeting cards or postcards that are all the same, or 1000 greeting cards or postcards consisting of fifty each of twenty different designs. This feature of digital printing enables greeting card or postcard designers to test the market by printing a large number of designs, then refine the range depending on which designs turn out to be the most popular.

Posters
It can be a big challenge to have appropriate quantities of large format posters, particularly the popular A2 size (420x594mm) printed. Only one digital press is capable of printing as large as A2. Wide format inkjet printers can print A2, A1 (594x840mm) and even bigger, but only in very small quantities — up to about twenty copies — before the price becomes uneconomical. Offset presses cannot print economical quantities much below about 500 copies, so what happens if you want 200 posters, say 50 each of four designs? Xeikon digital press to the rescue! The Xeikon prints 500mm wide and any length, and at economical digital printing prices.

Other products that can benefit from digital printing
Bookmarks, stickers, labels, presentation folders, office stationery, business cards and fridge magnets all benefit from the advantages of digital printing

Time sensitive printing

If a job is time sensitive — wanted same day or the following day — such requirements can usually be met using digital printing. Time must be allowed for offset printed products to dry before they can be “finished”. In addition, there is a culture issue. There is a culture common in large offset printing companies that jobs will take a week or so to be printed and finished, whereas the culture in the digital printing industry is for much more rapid turnaround. Because of this culture, large offset printing companies tend not to make good digital printing companies.

Variable data

One of the characteristics of digital printing that sets it apart from conventional offset printing is the ability of digital presses to make every page that comes out of the machine different from the page before it. Because the information on each page is constructed electronically and is not physically burnt onto a plate, as in the case of offset printing, it is possible for each page in a print run to differ from the page before it. The degree to which each page differs from the preceding page might be slight or very significant. For instance, a simple case might involve just the name and address on a flyer changing. A more complex application would involve complete slabs of text, photographs and background colours changing. Each page doesn’t have to be different. A print run of say 1000 pieces, might consist of 50 different sets of 20, just as it might consist of 1000 different pieces.

‘Variable data’ has been in use for over ten years, and there is abundant evidence to show that a well targeted and designed variable data piece will attract a response many many times higher than a conventionally printed piece with no variable content. Responses as high as 25% or even more have been recorded, compared to one per cent or less for conventionally printed pieces.

What kind of print jobs are suitable for variable data?

There are at least three answers to that question. First, organisations with a problem may find a solution in the use of variable data. The problem might be something like ‘how can we increase brand loyalty’. Second, variable data campaigns are suited to organisations who sell services or manufactured items with a high unit value — the car industry and the health insurance industry are two examples. Third, variable data campaigns might be used by organisations seeking to strengthen relationships with their customers, without necessarily seeking to sell something. The use of highly personalised invitations might be used is such a scenario.

The future of digital printing

Offset printing has not taken the intrusion of digital printing into its domain lying down! Press manufacturers have sought to compete with digital printing by making it more cost effective to print smaller run lengths. They have sought to do this in the following way.

By the development of presses with faster and less expensive “make ready” time. Make ready involves changing plates onto which the images have previously been burnt, cleaning press rollers if required, and “running up” the press in order to attain the correct colours and registration — perfect positioning of the plates. Make ready time has come down from a minimum of around twenty minutes and today can take anything from about five minutes to over half an hour with very large presses.

By making plates less expensive. All offset presses require plates of some form or other. The classic material used is aluminium, but various forms of plastic, polyester and even paper are also in use. For full colour printing, a set of four plates is required every time the content of a page changes. One way offset press manufacturers have sought to compete with digital printing has been to reduce the price of plates. A set of plates will cost anything from around $20 to well over $100. Furthermore, time is involved in removing the old plates and fitting the new ones.

By making it easier and less expensive to make plates. The process of burning plates has become progressively easier thanks to the now almost complete adoption of computer to plate technology. Plates still require chemistry to “develop” them (as in film based photography), although various forms of processless plates are finding their way into the market. Plates are usually burn off line using “computer to plate” technology. Another way press manufacturers have sought to close the gap between offset and digital has been to develop presses that image plates on the press, using rolls of plate material which are advanced automatically and burnt as required.

By making the whole printing process capable of being operated by non-tradespeople. Press manufacturers have sought to “democratise” the printing process by making it accessible to operators who have not been down the traditional apprenticeship path to learning the trade. Innovations such as the automation of registration and colour, automated press clean-up after a run, on press imaging of plates and processless offline burning of plates make it easier for press owners to find operators for their equipment.

It should be obvious from the above explanation, however, that there is still considerable cost associated with setting up for a print run on an offset press. None of these expenses are incurred in setting up a print run on a digital press. However once an offset press is running, the cost of producing a sheet is only a fraction of the cost of producing a sheet on a digital press. Consequently shorter run lengths are cheaper to produce digitally. Once the run length cost advantage for digital ceases, then offset is cheaper, and the price gap widens the longer the run length. At that point the only justification for printing digitally is speed — and that applies only up to a point.

For all the reasons explained above, as far as this writer is concerned, offset printing will never successfully challenge advantages of short run digital printing.

Digital printing, in turn, has not taken the increased competition from easier to operate, faster to prepare and to some extent cheaper offset printing lying down.

Offset printing has been around for 200 years, digital for less than two decades, so innovation in the development of digital printing continues apace and the industry is seeing ever increasing quality, speed, and the capacity to print on a wider range of paper and card stocks, including lighter no carbon required and heavier textured stock. We haven’t seen it happen yet, but as digital presses become more reliable, “click” charges will come down. We are seeing equipment prices from some manufacturers starting to come down significantly whereas other, perhaps more established manufacturers, continue to sell digital presses at premium prices.

For a decade or so, very high speed inkjet technology has been touted as “the next big thing” in digital printing and one or two manufacturers have placed a great deal of faith in the industry developing in this direction. Quality has always been the issue, and to date inkjet technology is restricted to such applications as the printing of statements in the financial sector.

And now for some (reasonably) late breaking news

At the worldwide printing trade fair held at Dusseldorf in May 2012, Benny Landa (who has already been referred to above) introduced a radical new printing concept to the world. In an interview with Benny, he provided a details explanation of the revolutionary new Nanography printing method. This interview is getting on for three years old, and there has been considerable water under the bridge since then.

We can report that Benny’s Nanography project is very much alive and well. User feedback has obliged him to go back to the drawing boards and re-design the interface for the equipment. Quality (always an issue for new printing technologies) continues to be a challenge, but continued to improve. In the interview, Benny says he will be placing presses in customers’ premises some time in the latter part of 2013. Well at the time of writing (early March 2015) they still haven’t shipped. They are due to ship this year. My best guess is sometime early 2016.

What is beyond question is that this technology will mean digital printing will now be economical for print runs of tens of thousands, and in sizes much larger than current digital presses can offer (A1 instead of A3, which is normal for digital presses). Speed will be vastly increased, quality will be every bit as good as any current digital or offset press.

Here is the interview.

This interview first appeared in the UK edition of the PrintWeek daily trade newsletter just before Drupa 2012 opened in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Can Benny Landa do it again? He spearheaded the digital printing revolution in 1993 when he launched his Indigo E-Print 1000, promising “a print run of one”. Now, after selling Indigo to HP in 2001, he has sensationally returned to print with Landa Digital Printing and Nanography – a new method of printing that he believes will be the basis for a second digital revolution.

On the eve of Drupa 2012, PrintWeek’s Jo Francis asks Landa about his fresh ambitions to transform print by creating a new industry standard.

Benny, we spoke with you at Ipex 2010, where you received a Champions in Print award, and it felt very much as though you’d stepped back from your involvement in print. Not in a million years would we have imagined seeing you with a brand new print technology at Drupa 2012. Welcome back – how does it feel?
Fantastic! I’m more energised and more excited than I’ve ever been.

At the time you told us you were working on a new venture in nanotechnology in the field of energy. At what point did it become something that had a print application?
Years ago, at Landa Labs, we needed to develop super small particles for our energy work. Nobody had a way of doing that so we had to develop our own method for producing these tiny nano particles. We had a breakthrough in making them, and I guess, because I’ve spent my whole life in printing, the moment I saw it I thought “Hey, maybe this will work for pigments too”. That’s when suddenly the bell went off and the light bulb lit, and we realised we had the answer for print.

Why are the nano pigments so special?
Many materials dramatically change their properties when you make them as nanomaterials – metals, for example, dramatically drop in their melting temperature. And all sorts of optical properties appear. Organic materials also change their properties and become much more efficient absorbers of light, so you need a lot less pigment if it’s a nano pigment. And almost as important, nano pigments only absorb light, they don’t scatter it, so you get pure colours.

How big are your nano particles?
Our pigments are a few tens of nanometres in size. They are very small and have totally different properties from regular pigments. They are light absorbers on steroids. They really are amazing particles.

You say Nanography uses ‘ink ejectors’ rather than ‘inkjet’. What’s the difference – how does Nanography work?
Basically our process works like this: with inkjet you eject drops directly on to paper. We don’t do that. We use very similar printheads, but they eject droplets on to a heated blanket conveyor belt. We have had to do some special modifications to the printheads to make them work well with our process, but they are very similar to inkjet heads.

So we eject the drops of ink on to the heated blanket, then we dry the ink image completely by driving the water out of the image with hot air. All you have left is the pigment and the polymer. It’s an ultra-thin layer of polymeric film. Then, you just laminate that film on to the paper by pressing it on to the paper. It transfers with 100% efficiency.

You just press it? It doesn’t need any heat or anything else to make it transfer?
That’s right, it’s just using contact. So the image is on the surface of the substrate, but it’s ultra thin. And because when it’s transferred it’s not a liquid, it’s a plastic film, it sticks to the paper. The moment it touches the paper it’s bonded to it and perfectly dry. All the moisture has been driven off before you touch the paper.

It sounds a bit like a temporary tattoo, or a decal. Is it something like that?
Yes, you could liken it to a decal. But because it’s so very thin, it follows the contours of the paper, so it hardly changes the gloss levels, which is what you want. And it sticks tremendously whether it’s paper or any plastic packaging film, including polyethylene. It’s super simple, but the results are unbelievable.

What about the quality?
There is no printing process that produces these kinds of results. None. We talk about print qualities, not print quality because the combination of qualities is so fantastic. The dots have outstanding sharpness, gloss, uniformity and scratch resistance. I mentioned the unusual properties of nano materials and one of them is abrasion resistance. And because of the very high optical density of the pigments we can print high coverage without any issues.

What have been the main technical challenges in developing it? We’ve seen some inkjet presses have problems with issues like ink drying and the requirement for pre-treated stocks. What was your eureka moment?
One was the breakthrough in producing nano pigments. The second was the realisation that we could do this with aqueous inks, which are preferable both from an economic and from an environmental point of view. There’s nothing like nature’s own pure, clean solvent – water.

What do you say to people who find nano- technology quite worrying, in that they fear the particles could go out of control or leach into the environment in unexpected ways?
Nature is full of nanotechnology. We eat it every day, we drink it. The ones that are dangerous either float through the air or are poisonous and can penetrate the skin. Our inks are innocuous. We use food grade materials that are compatible for packaging.

When you launched the Indigo in 1993 you had one model. You’re coming to Drupa with six including B3, B2 and B1 sheetfed models and two web presses. That’s very ambitious. Tell us about the thinking behind this portfolio of products.
You can do a lot when you take years to do it! We designed these different models to cover the key commercial segments.

Are there other print-related areas where your nanotechnology could be relevant? What about other sizes, such as wide-format display printing?
Very-wide-format is not immediately going to go to Nanography because our process requires the blanket. Every technology has its sweet spots and I think inkjet does a great job for outdoor signage and will continue to do that for a long time. Just like xerography has its place and a sweet spot. I think for mainstream commercial packaging and publishing – that’s ours.

What’s your sweet spot on run lengths?
It depends how you define it, by A4 pages or B1 sheets. For B1 sheets it’s in the thousands, which is a fantastic breakthrough in terms of crossover. We’re talking about significant run lengths.

What about using Nanography for coatings and laminating?
We expect that some of our heads will be used for lacquers, special colours and protective coatings.

Could there be a stand-alone coating machine?
Maybe.

Who have you partnered with on the press chassis?
All the web machines, from bottom to top are done in-house. The sheetfed machines, because of the crucial nature of grippers and sheetfeeding, we buy from a vendor.

Who is it?
Komori. They did the engineering and manufacturing, to our design.

Are you manufacturing the NanoInk yourself?
Yes, absolutely. And the blankets. We also ship the NanoInk as a concentrate and it’s then diluted in the press using the customer’s tap water. The machine deals with filtering and de-ionising it. This means a smaller carbon footprint and it reduces cost. The containers collapse to have almost no volume and almost no ink left in them, and you can dispose of them along with plastic beverage bottles. So, environmentally, the new technology is completely innocuous, it’s recyclable – just a totally green product.

What front-end software will be driving the presses? Or is it in-house?
There are two answers to that. The first answer is that we are working with leading front-end companies for front-end capability. We’re not going to develop our own, we develop only those things that we have to develop that you can’t buy elsewhere, and in this case you can buy it.

The entry-level configuration of each of these products doesn’t have a fancy RIP. It behaves like a printing press. Instead of sending plates to the press you send a job.

But I could do variable information if I wanted to?
Yes of course. They are specified to be digital presses in all respects.

How much server power is it going to take to drive one of these presses doing variable data at max speed?
For most of the customers in this market I don’t think that’s where they initially want to go. It’ll be an option they can add. For the most part, high-speed variable information isn’t where the mainstream customers need to be initially.

How do you plan to go to market?
We believe Nanography will become an industry-wide standard. In my experience of this and other industries, no standard became universally accepted when it was offered as a monopoly by one company. Xerox invented xerography, and it was alone for 15 years until Canon, Ricoh and others came into the marketplace. We plan to offer Nanography to a broad range of partners.

We’ve had news of your first licensing deals with Komori and Manroland Sheetfed. Can we expect more?
Yes. You can expect others to be in the market with Nanographic products. We think the important thing is not the competition, the important thing is giving the customers the ability to succeed. And customers like a choice. We have the greatest technology in the world. For it really to become a standard – and to do so quickly – we need to open it up. The fact is, customers today are sitting on their hands. They’re not buying offset presses. They see a decline in print, the emergence of digital media, so they think “I’ll wait and see what happens”. We don’t want them to wait too long, so in our view the best thing is for multiple vendors to offer Nanography. We think this can have a profound impact on the industry. (Ed. During Drupa, Landa announced a partnership with Heidelberg.)

Are you already talking to other potential partners, or is that going to start at Drupa?
We’re already talking to people who are very interested in pursuing this strategy. You might have thought that multiple press vendors wouldn’t want to be in the market if they don’t have sole rights to a product. That was the thinking years ago. That’s not the problem today. Their customers would love to buy from them, but they aren’t buying. And that’s the problem everyone needs to solve: how do I get customers to buy? So I think we have a compelling value proposition and expect others will join us as partners. We plan for this to be embraced pretty broadly. Look at how many companies offer offset printing, or inkjet.

When will the presses be commercially available?
We’ll be placing presses in customers’ premises some time in the latter part of 2013. At Drupa, we’ll be taking letters of intent with deposits. We’ve already been deluged by customers who want the first machines, and this is a way for customers to secure their place and we’ll know who’s really serious. We can’t promise them a specific date, but we will give them preference.

What do you need to work on between now and then?
We want to get rid of the bugs we have, and that’s just a matter of time, say six-to-eight months. Secondly, production engineering and value engineering. And thirdly, testing. We want to put a lot of miles into these machines before we put them into customers’ hands. I learned a few lessons at Indigo and I absolutely don’t want machines in customers’ hands until the customers are prepared and the machines are ready. All that takes time. But I’m patient.

What sort of thing is a bug at the moment?
Defects and flaws. But I’m an expert at flaws! The end-product last time [Indigo] is now the industry standard for high quality output. Quality is something we understand. It’s not an added feature, it’s absolutely essential.

You say Nanography has “unmatched” cost-per-page. Can you give us some details about the pricing model for the equipment, the ink, etc. Will there be a click charge?
It will depend. In our case we will most likely offer equipment and clicks. Customers like to have a choice.

Do you think inkjet – in some form – will become the dominant digital print technology in general?
First of all I think Nanography is different from inkjet. You really can’t squirt water on to paper and expect it to be the solution for commercial print.

Your new presses will be competing with some of the models made by your old company. Does that feel a bit strange?
The market is so vast, and the playing field so huge, I don’t think people will be wringing their hands saying “Oh, do I buy a Landa or do I buy an Indigo?” because we play in totally different parts of the space. Every technology has its sweet spot, and no digital technology has yet been able to enter the sweet spot we’re talking about.

Benny, it’s fair to say you are renowned for the energy and passion you bring to all your ventures. At Drupa you will be hosting the five daily theatre presentations on the Landa stand, which sounds like some feat – where do you get your energy from?
You’re worried about me getting tired with five presentations a day? I jump out of bed every morning. I pinch myself. I have fantastic people around me, committed hard-working, passionate believers trying to do the impossible. And somehow the impossible becomes possible. It’s really fantastic and very exciting. Last time, with Indigo, I wanted to do everything myself. This time, to do this in my lifetime, I want to see it become ubiquitous. I think that’s the best thing for the industry and the best thing for us.

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