Big Iron gets Fused
A lot of buzz has already started around digital printing even before the doors to Drupa 2012 open. First, let’s recap what’s happened in the past 12 months or so.
- manroland partners with Océ
- Heidelberg partners with Ricoh
- KBA partners with RR Donnelley
- Komori announces a strategic partnership with Konica Minolta
Offset press manufacturers have been cozying up to digital press vendors to address the changing needs of their customer base. To-date most of these initiatives are still gaining traction but I would expect Drupa to be a place where all the vendors reinforce their commitments and share more milestones.
The March of Digital
Meanwhile digital presses have gotten faster, larger, and more versatile. Xerox is playing up their solid ink technology. HP is busy super sizing their digital web press offerings. Canon/Océ are cranking out further speed improvements. Kodak is touting the 5th unit and Stream ink distribution. All the others are busy slugging it out or carving out other niches.
The net result is that digital printing continues to take more print volume away from traditional offset (hence the partnerships).
The Father of Digital Offset Printing Returns
As if the marketplace were not already competitive for both offset and digital vendors, the return of Benny Landa to this year’s Drupa signals another pivot point. Landa is unveiling a new ink with nano sized pigment particles, NanoInk™, along with new digital presses to deliver Nanography™ printing to the world. If the press releases prove to be accurate (no reason not to), then this new offering addresses many of the limitations of previous digital presses.
- prints on any off-the-shelf stock without pre-treatment, coating, or post drying
- 500 nanometre ink thickness translates into ink savings and wider color gamut
- water soluble ink is “eco-friendly”
- uses ink ejectors instead of ink printheads
- What is the cost?
- Is this a fluid ink transfer system similar to Kodak’s Stream technology?
- What’s the recyclability of the ink/paper?
- What is the serviceability of the equipment?
- Will their be more partnership announcements beyond manroland and Komori? How will this affect their existing digital partnerships mentioned above?
Note: Komori shared in IP to create the paper delivery systems where manroland appears to be more of a licensing deal.
- What is the quality on uncoated, plastics, and other challenging materials?
UPDATE: Heidelberg and Landa announced a partnership today.
UPDATE 2: For more interesting discussion on Landa, Nanoprint, and the partnerships, check out this PrintPlanet thread.
Hopefully, most of these questions will find answers during Drupa 2012.