01 Mar Nanotechnology in printing
Nanotechnology has been around for many years now – in 1959 physicist Richard Feynman started a conversation that will continue long after we’re all gone. At an American Physical Society meeting, he gave a talk about manipulating molecules and atoms on an individual level, and while the term “nanotechnology” wasn’t around at that stage, it was the starting point of this field of science.
What is it?
Nanotechnology is the control of individual atoms and molecules. It is hard to truly picture just how small a nanometre is – one billionth of a metre. If you picture the thickness of a standard piece of paper, it’s about 100 000 nanometres thick.
There are numerous applications for nanotechnology, from the mundane such as the manufacturing of baseball bats and creating better absorption in sun creams, to near-miracles in modern medicine where nanoparticles are used to target specific cancer cells in delivering treatment.
You may be asking yourself at this point what nanotechnology has to do with printing. Sappi, a well-known international paper manufacturer, has recently announced that they have developed a way to produce lightweight nanoncellulose material, and the good news is that it may be made commercially available soon. Indeed, they are looking to setup an experimental plant in the latter half of 2015.
This news has far-reaching applications; for example, it could be used to replace plastic films that are often found in packaging. In addition, it would be of use in building more energy-efficient cars, thickening concrete, and even possibly in biomedicine in dressings.
The method by which Sappi produces the nanocellulise is interesting, too. They ultra-refine and process wood pulp so that tiny fibres are produced from the process. Experts at Sappi say that these nanofibres are so small that 2000 of them could fit into the width of a strand of human hair.
At DocX, we’re passionate about printing; as you can see, it can be an incredibly exciting industry! Leaps and bounds in technology have seen the printing industry change drastically in the last few decades. The quality of prints produced by Xerox’s machines is truly remarkable, and Xerox support services alone are enough of a reason to invest in a Xerox printer. But if you need an even better one, simply look at which company has been on the frontier of printing technology through each decade since people have been able to commercially copy and print.
Image credit: Digizyme, Inc.