The printing industry is one of the five largest industries in the world. Since the 1980's, Israeli companies like Scitex and Indigo have integrated innovative digital technologies into production processes, thereby contributing greatly to increasing the efficiency of the industry. Thanks to this pioneering work, Israel has become a global force in the printing field and continues to be a fertile base for numerous start-up companies that continue to promote and adapt the technology to the needs of the 21St century.
The prepress process enables the integration of all the various elements that comprise a printed page - images, graphics, text and background colors - into one single entity. The end products of this process are the printing plates which are mounted on the printing press, a separate plate for each color. Until 1979 this was performed through a manual process based on the work of graphic artists using scissors, rulers and glue.
The Prepress industry underwent a dramatic change in 1979 when Scitex, which was founded by the late Israeli entrepreneur Efi Arazi, unveiled the Response 300 system at the GEC in Milan. This was a significant breakthrough that integrated a digital computer into the process for the first time.
This event marked the beginning of a new era in which the prepress industry began to "read" all the components of the printed page into a computer using digital scanners, then process them using a dedicated software application, and integrate them onto the printable file. The pages of the document were exposed on film as color separations, which were then copied onto printing plates. Scitex became the leading and most innovative manufacturer in the prepress industry.
Another significant improvement to the process was presented to the world in 1995, when another Israeli entrepreneur, Dan Gelbart, founder of Canadian company Creo, introduced an imagesetter that was able to directly expose the printing plate without having to use film. In 2000, Scitex's Graphic Arts Division merged with Creo and in 2005 Kodak acquired the combined company. This part of the business has generated billions of dollars in sales over the years and has become an important part of Kodak's strategy.
Michael (Miki) Nagler, Ph.D.
Vice President Advanced Technologies Landa Labs
Ever since Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press 600 years ago, printing remained a manual process. Most of the commercial printing methods utilized over the years entailed labor-intensive processes. Print production of marketing materials, books or packaging required lengthy set-up processes including the creation of printing plates and the fine-tuning of the presses. These processes made printing expensive and wasteful, especially when producing a small number of copies.
All of this changed in 1993, when Indigo, an Israeli company, launched the world's first high-quality digital press, the E-Print 1000 that revolutionized the printing industry. Indigo's digital press was able to print a small number of copies, or different images, easily and economically without compromising print quality.
Indigo was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Benny Landa, who is now considered to be the "father of digital printing". The company's printing technology is based on ElectroInk, a unique ink that reacts to electric charges. Using this process, it is possible to print high quality images on a virtually unlimited range of materials including paper, cardboard, film or plastic.
Over the past 20 years, the digital printing revolution has reached every corner of the globe and numerous different market segments. Today, most homes contain many items that were produced using Indigo digital printing - books, labels on wine bottles or spice jars, photo albums, medicine and cosmetics packages and more.
Indigo, which became part of technological giant HP in 2002, continues to develop and manufacture digital presses and ink in Israel. The division's sales volume has increased more than tenfold and it is currently the world leader in this market. Over 6000 Indigo presses are in use in 120 countries worldwide, including Israel, and each is marked "Made in Israel".
Vice President, Worldwide Strategic Business Indigo Division, HP