WHAT IS RISO?
Risograph is a print process that uses a digital duplicator machine to produce paper prints using a method similar to screen printing.
The first Risograph duplicator was invented in 1986 in Tokyo, Japan by the Riso Kagaku Corporation, founded by Noboru Hayama. Riso products were mainly marketed for inexpensive and high volume duplicating and because of this, have widely been used in offices, schools, and other settings that require quick, low-cost, and high-number production print runs.
While Risograph machines are still being used in these contexts, an increasing number of artists are adapting the process to create beautiful and unique printed material.
Riso duplicators create stencils within the machine that are applied to drums filled with ink. The ink drums then spin at high speeds, pushing the ink through the stencils onto the paper. Riso duplicators lay each color down one layer at a time, and depending on the machine, are capable of printing 1-2 colors with each pass of paper. Because of this, paper is often ran through the machine multiple times to print the desired amount of colors. This aspect of the process creates many possibilities with ink layering as well as print registration.
Risograph machines achieve a hand-made look and feel with the speed and performance of a modern printer. Riso prints contain uniquely rich and vibrant colors and distinct textures.
QUALITIES OF RISO
Risograph printing has various unique characteristics and always has some slight imperfections. However, these imperfections are part of what make the process so attractive, fun, and give it such a unique aesthetic.
These imperfections may include:
SMUDGING: Risograph ink is made of a combination of soy oil, water, and pigment. While this is beneficial environmentally, it is possible to smudge ink if prints are handled too aggressively.
UNEVEN COVERAGE: Large flat areas of solid ink are likely to have uneven coverage, although we try to ensure that every print is as evenly coated as possible.
REGISTRATION: The Riso process is similar to screen printing in that each color is applied separately. Many multi-color projects require the paper to run through the printer multiple times and can lead to an irregularity in the registration (or lining up) of each layer.
TIRE MARKS OR INK TRANSFER: Prints that are being run through the printer multiple times with heavy ink coverage may exhibit tire marks from the paper feed rollers. These marks can occur on the face of the print or the end of the sheets. There is also a chance of ink transferring to other prints when stacked. Although we do utilize various strategies to avoid unwanted ink transfers and marks and ensure clean final prints.
COLOR SHIFTS: Risograph machines use ink drums that are dedicated to specific colors. Currently, Sweet Malarkey offers scarlet, blue, yellow, and black ink options. We are able to achieve a wide range of colors through ink layering techniques, however it is likely that prints will shift in hue/saturation from the original artwork.
UV LIGHT FADING: Riso printing is a non-archival process, meaning the ink quality may fade over time. This is common with many other print mediums as well. To ensure that prints maintain quality over time, we recommend not hanging prints in direct sunlight. Limiting exposure to UV light will preserve overall print quality and ink saturation.
The Risograph printing process has many different elements that can be utilized to achieve a wide range of results, and we try our best to work with every individual to accomplish each project's specific needs. However, there are some parameters that we must work within to ensure the highest quality final prints. These parameters include:
PAPER TYPE: Due to the nature of Riso ink, we only print on absorbent, un-coated papers to minimize the probability of smudging. Generally, smooth and vellum papers work best. We cannot print on any coated papers. We keep a variety of papers in stock that work well for Riso printing, and we can make paper recommendations for your project's specific needs.
PAPER WEIGHT: Our printer can accommodate paper weights from 20 lb. text to 80 lb. cover stock. The Riso cannot easily accept paper weights outside of these specifications.
PRINT SIZE: Our Risograph machine can print up to a maximum size of 10.5 x 16.5" on 11 x 17" paper. We can print any size that falls below these dimensions. A finishing fee may apply if custom dimensions and trimming are required.
COLOR: Because each color of ink requires its own designated drum, we can only offer a limited amount of colors. Although, we can achieve a much wider range of colors through various ink layering techniques. Currently we offer blue, scarlet, yellow, and black inks with plans to expand our color library in the future. Colors will likely shift in hue compared to the digital file depending on the desired colors.
PRINTING WITH US
We offer a variety of Risograph printing services. While our main focus is printing and designing for creative-focused projects, we are open to collaborating with clients with a wide range of needs.
We are able to create prints for projects such as: posters, art prints, flyers, booklets, zines, comics, folded cards, brochures, packaging material, and more.
If you are interested in printing with us but are unsure if your project meets our specifications, please feel free to contact us to discuss your printing needs in further detail.