Printing has come a long way in the digital age

At the onset of the 1990s, offset sheet-fed printing was by far the dominant option for short-run print demands, such as books, flyers and business stationery. Thanks to the ease with which offset presses could be readied for each job, the relative absence of waste and lack of time taken to reach peak efficiency, other options like web-fed presses were frequently overlooked.

Now, sheet-fed presses are nearly twice as fast they were 25 years ago. And as far as operating and production costs go, they’re almost as efficient as sheet-fed systems on jobs requiring longer runs.

Because they adhere to the offset printing process, long seen as the pinnacle of quality in the industry, sheet-fed presses produce optimum quality imagery with full coverage of a variety of media types. Crucially, the cost has stayed competitive to match.

However, next to digital sheet-fed alternatives, a sheet-fed offset press can be more complicated to set up for a job, with plates for each colour and chemical usage among the most time-consuming elements to set.

Printing set (PD)

Hence short-run printing [1] is now dominated by digital print services. The flexibility digital options offer mean that anything from a single sheet to several thousand fliers is possible with very little wastage. Last-minute jobs are not nearly so much of a headache – even variable data printing, where each sheet contains different sets of information, is possible with the minimum of fuss. Quick turnarounds and highly customisable content means that vendors can reasonably charge premium prices, too.

Large format support is an ongoing issue with digital print, however. B1 (1050mm) options simply aren’t possible on many digital presses, whereas offset presses can use double the area on a standard sheet, with complete coverage. That’s a big step up in productivity.

Added to that is a relatively small list of compatible substrate options, all of which are more costly than standard offset media types.

Landa Nanographic Printing Presses, on the other hand, can be used to for B1 format print runs. They also support the same substrates that offset printing presses do. That means cheaper, readily available media and no need for pre-treatment of it.

It’s formats such as these which take the strengths of two previously competing techniques, creating their own ‘third way’ which could, in the long term, become the norm.

Take the Landa S10 press. By layering ink onto a heated sheet, rather than directly onto paper as an inkjet press might, the result dries instantly and with none of the paper deformation normally seen with other processes. Production time is cut, too, thanks to output from the S10 being ready to finish immediately, and inline. That’s combining those twin strengths of speed and performance.

There’s no need for a regulated environment or specially trained operators with a Nanography system. In fact you can place a Nanography press right beside your offset press to save space and maximise output efficiency, since they can both be loaded with the same media.


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