Combining the versatility and short-run
economics of digital printing with the qualities
and productivity of offset printing.
In May 2012, Benny Landa – inventor of the Indigo Digital Press – brought news of a breakthrough that may
greatly advance print technology and its related economics. Since then, the blogosphere already has articles
suggesting that this could be the biggest change in printing since Gutenberg invented the printing press.
Nanographic Printinql” technology, also called Nanography, differs from other printing technologies because
it uses an innovative system and printing process that employs Landa Nanolnk!”, a proprietary water-based
ink with nano-pigment particles that measure tens of nanometers in size.
Unlike lithography, Nanographic Printinql” technology harnesses the advantages of digital printing, including
shorter turnaround times, reduced waste, the ability to print runs as short as one copy, as well as variable
data printing. At the same time, it also offers offset qualities.
Whereas inkjet printing jets transfer the image directly onto the substrate, Nanoqraphy'” first ejects the
Nanolnk dispersions onto a unique heated blanket, and only then is the ink transferred from the blanket to
the substrate in the form of an ultra-thin film. This document demonstrates how Nanography achieves the
combined versatility and short-run economics of digital printing with the qualities and productivity of offset
In the printing market, 98 of the pages are not printed using digital technology, but use technology that is
essentially 500 years old. One of the main reasons is because when modern digital printing processes apply
ink directly to paper, the wet ink penetrates the paper and many of the pigment particles end up beneath the
surface becoming inefficient absorbers of light.
Additionally, when multiple colors are printed on top of each other, there is a limit to the amount of wet ink
that can be applied to the paper. This maximum threshold is referred to as either TIC !Totallnk Coverage} or
TAC (Total Area Coverage!. Any ink applied beyond such limit does not attach itself to the previous layers and
more significantly, the wet ink is not able to dry properly on the substrate. This can lead to ink smudging of
the subsequent printed sheets.
This is true for all printing processes, from offset to inkjet. In the case of inkjet printing, there is so much
water in the ink that the paper becomes completely saturated, swollen, deformed and cockled. The paper
must then be heated and the water evaporated from the paper. This limits aqueous inks to low area coverage
applications, such as books and transpromotional materials – and makes it unsuitable for high area coverage
applications such as commercial printing, packaging or for specific applications in the publishing sector,
such as magazines or colorful books.
The Nanographic Printing TM Process
The Nanographic difference
The Landa Nanographic Printinq'” process is innovative in that it utilizes the nano-sized pigments to absorb
much more light than other pigments, and thus permits images with ultra-sharp dots of extremely high
uniformity, high gloss fidelity and a broad CMYK color gamut – covering at least 15 more Pantone colors
than offset printing.
onventionallnk – –
Fig 1. Light absorbance comparison: conventional ink vs. Landa Nanolnk™ formulations.
Many of the advantages of the Landa Nanographic Printing process are achieved by eliminating the absorption
of the liquid ink carrier by the substrate.
In addition, the ultra-small Landa Nanolnk pigments – and their ability to form a very thin layer of ink – allow
digital printing at very high speeds; the ability to print on ordinary untreated paper stocks, whether coated or
uncoated; and on practically any plastic packaging film or label stock; and the production of abrasion- and
Many materials, when reduced to nano particle size, acquire unexpected properties. Some particles become
super-hard, able to protect surfaces from abrasion; some become super-absorbent in the blood stream,
enabling unique drug delivery systems. In the course of a decade of research, Landa observed that ink pigments,
when reduced to nanometric scale, become unusually powerful colorants (Fig. 1 J. On the basis of this discovery,
Nanolnk colorants are used at the core of the Landa Nanographic Printinql” process.
Landa Nanolnk'” contains ultra-small pigment particles in the tens of nanometers in size. In comparison,
good quality offset inks have a particle size of approximately 500 nm – at least ten times larger. Nanolnk is
water-based and ecofriendly.
The Nanographic Printing process
The Nanographic Printing process begins with the jetting of billions of droplets. However the droplets are not
ejected directly onto the substrate as they are in the traditional inkjet process. Instead, they are ejected onto
a blanket from ink ejectors that are mounted on print bars, onto a blanket positioned 1-2 mm away.
Each print bar prints a specific color. Landa Nanographic Printing Presses are equipped with eight print bars
(Fig. 21 and are therefore capable of printing up to eight different colors simultaneously. Furthermore, the
eight print bars can be employed for CMYK, spot or specialty colors such as white.
The eight print bar configuration allows having two color bars for each color, which in combination with
doubling the paper handling system speed, allows doubling the productivity while maintaining the print
The ink drop ejection onto the blanket is precisely timed to obtain very high accuracy between print separations
and achieve high color plane registration.
~ Substrate Transport System
Fig 2. A schematic perspective view of a Landa Nanographic PrintingTM Press.
The Nanographic Printing ™ Process
As each ink droplet lands on the heated blanket, it spreads and very quickly loses its water, becoming thinner
as it does so. When all of its water has been evaporated, the ink becomes an ultra-thin, dry polymeric film
on the blanket (Fig. 3].
Fig 3.lnk droplets interacting with the blanket following impact and carrier evaporation (illustration).
When pressed into contact with the printing substrate upon transfer, this thin 500 nm layer of ink
instantaneously bonds tenaciously to the substrate without penetrating it (Fig. 4]. The formed images are
tough, abrasion resistant, do not need post-drying and leave no residual ink on the blanket.
So two-sided printing becomes simple – and the printed output can immediately be processed, even on the
most aggressive finishing equipment, right off the press.
Fig 4. Landa Nanolnk™ dot vs. Inkjet dot on paper (illustration).
The transfer blanket
The design of the optimum blanket and blanket conveyor system embodies some critical considerations to
ensure perfect image, including the full image transfer to the paper, the prevention of any ink residuals, and
smooth and stable blanket motion.
The design enables a suitable balance between receiving the Landa Nanolnk drops, permitting them to create
a perfect image, and concurrently allows the transfer of the ink film to the various substrate types without
leaving a trace on the blanket. This ensures that the full image is transferred without any distortions and the
blanket remains completely clean – ready to receive the next image ejection.
The Nanographic Printing ™ Process
The difference in the dots
Inkjet-printed dots are typically characterized by poorly defined edges. This effect is due to the capillarity
of the aqueous ink that causes it to be absorbed and wicked along the paper fibers. Offset printed dots are
generally sharper than inkjet, but also suffer from edge raggedness due to ink capillarity.
As mentioned, the Landa Nanolnk droplets form a dry ink film when applied to the paper or other substrates
– and unlike directly applied wet inks, there is no penetration into the paper fibers. So the Landa Nanolnk
film does not wick along the paper fibers. Instead, it conforms to the surface roughness, right down to the
topography of individual paper fibers, literally laminating the paper surface and therefore permitting precise
and extremely efficient low ink laydown. This accounts for the ability of the Nanographic Printing technology
to match the gloss of the paper and to produce dots with super-sharp edges and high optical uniformity. As a
result, dots obtained using the Landa Nanographic Printing process are exceptionally round (Fig. 5).
Landa Nanolnk Dot on Uncoated Paper
Offset Dot on Uncoated Paper
Fig. 5. Dot shape comparison on uncoated paper: Landa Nanolnk vs. Offset.
Extended color gamut
The Landa Nanographic Printing process breaks
through yet anotherbarrier. Becausethe Landa Nanolnk
pigments are extremely small. the light dynamic
range achieved by the Landa Nanclnkl'” formulation in
the Nanographic Printing process is wider than any
other printing processes and covers more Pantone
colors than offset printing. This translates into bigger
effective gray levels. (Fig. 6J.
Additionally, Nanography and Landa Nanolnk create
printed solid areas with lightness depth (density]
values incomparable to any other printing process
CQlor ~ •• mut ComparisQn
Fig. 6. Color gamut comparison chart.
High gloss uniformity
Another amazing outcome of the very thin effective layer created in the Nanographic Printing process is
the fact that the images have extremely high gloss fidelity with the substrate printed on. That means glossy
images on glossy stock, and matte images on matte stock – all while maintaining the highest image qualities
such as optical density. dot shape and others.
In contrast, images printed on a dry toner electrophotographic press display the same gloss regardless of
the gloss level of the printed media. The gloss differences between the printed area and the background are
irritating to the human eye and are perceived as low-quality printing.
The ultra-thin Nanographic Printing ink film has an extraordinary ability to bond to all paper and plastic
printing substrates. Due to the above described transfer technique, Landa Nanolnk images can easily be
applied to a wide range of sheet or web substrates, including untreated paper stock – coated or uncoated,
plastic, newsprint, film and more. As the ink film contains no water or other liquids, Nanography preserves
the substrate from both water damage and deformation.
With Nanographic Printing technology. the substrate remains dry, and since very low heat is applied to the
The Nanographic Printinq'” Process
paper surface, it maintains the substrate’s pure qualities.
The Nanographic Printing economic advantage
The Nanographic Printing process offers the capacity to yield the lowest cost-per-page of all the digital
printing technologies. This is due to a variety of aspects relating to its underlying technology. They include:
The ink carrier – Landa Nanolnk solutions are based on water which is a less costly ink carrier than any
solvent or UV based inks.
The amount of ink used – The Landa Nanographic Printing process creates a film of about 500 nm that is
approximately half the thickness of an offset printed image and uses less ink for the same image.
Energy consumption – The Nanographic Printing process is energy efficient and heating is used mainly to
evaporate the limited amount of water in the ink rather than to dry out water-soaked paper.
Substrate cost – Printing on any substrate enables you to print on low-cost, off-the-shelf uncoated paper
rather than expensive coated paper or specially designed paper.
Production logistics – Landa Nanolnk is manufactured and shipped as a concentrated solution that reduces
packaging, shipment and storage costs.
The combination of Landa Nanolnk and the Nanographic Printing process, allows digital production at up to
13,00081 sheets per hour for sheetfed and 656 feet per minute forwebfed presses. This is an improvement of
nearly 100 over other digital printing processes that will significantly boost the productivity of a company’s
The Nanographic Printinql” process is a new technology and opens up a new category of printing. It uniquely
combines a special printing process with water-based Landa Nanolnkl” colorants and a specially designed
With the productivity, substrate range, and print qualities of offset and a break-even point of around 5000
sheets, Nanoqraphy'” is the first digital printing process that can compete in the mainstream market.
As printing shifts from offset to digital, printers will not be able to sustain growth into the future with offset
alone. Nanography addresses the principal obstacles faced by digital technology today, including speed,
quality and cost and can fundamentally change the print industry.