It has been difficult the past few years finding heirs to the technical revolution in the digital printing field begun by Israeli companies such as Scitex, Indigo and Nur in the 1990s. Scitex, for anyone who has forgotten, changed the face of the pre-printing process and brought the industry into the digital age; Indigo set new limits for digital printing at printing shops and was eventually acquired by Hewlett-Packard, and Nur produced the wide digital printer for printing posters.

Digital printing in Israel is less interesting now than in the past. Still, there are startups here that offer revolutionary technologies in fields of energy, printed circuits and three-dimensional modeling. The Dolev and Abromovich research company found that some 50 technology companies are working in the printing and imaging field.

The fax and e-mail revolution got stuck at the two-dimensional level: one cannot, for example, send a shoe, coin or eyeglasses via e-mail. Until now, photographs were the limit. The Israeli startup Objet Geometries, however, has succeeded in breaking this limit by developing a process and a product that make it possible to send three-dimensional polymer models via e-mail.

Objet's rapid prototype (RP) system sprays layers of photopolymer onto a build tray just as an inkjet printer sprays ink onto a sheet of paper. Each layer of a model is dried and cured with a built-in UV light, and more layers are added until the model is complete. For giant companies like Adidas, Kodak, Ford and BMW, Objet's "futuristic" technology is an everyday tool, and is used to streamline and accelerate the planning and design stages of prototypes.

Objet was founded in 1998 and has so far registered 30 patents. The company, which has 72 employees, has so far raised $17 million.

Another interesting development in the printing field has been introduced by Power Paper, which was founded in Tel Aviv in 1997. Power Paper has developed batteries that can be printed directly on any surface, at minimal cost, using standard printing equipment. The batteries are thin, flexible microelectronic stickers that have low-currency batteries integrated within.

The batteries are used in electronic clothing that are supplied with thin, flexible energy sources, semi-permanent tattoo stickers, electronic tags, and energy sources for toys. In the future, this technology will be able to change the way hearing accessories and tiny robots are used.

NanoPowders Industries, another Israeli technology company, has developed a different kind of revolutionary product in conjunction with the American company Cima NanoTech, with which it merged in late 2002. Using a process similar to that of home inkjet printers, NanoPowders has developed a way to print electrical circuits onto any surface. When this technology reaches the market, it will make it possible for each of us to design and print electrical circuits, rather than being dependent on the giant chip plants operated by the big companies.