what is a risograph?
A Risograph printer is a stencil duplicator that operates in a similar fashion as the Mimeograph. Roughly the same size and shape of a standard Xerox copier, the Risograph creates fast, inexpensive copies using environmentally friendly and highly saturated soy-based inks. Historically, the Risograph has been used by institutions such as churches and schools to produce fliers and other documents at high-volume and low-cost, but the process has been appropriated by artists, designers, and publishers to create economical, unique, and tactile prints. Check our our full printing guied here!
The Risograph creates fast, inexpensive copies by burning a stencil master onto a wax paper-like material, which is then placed on a color drum.
STAGING - The operator selects the desired drum color and installs it in the printer. Paper is placed in the paper feed tray on the left side of the duplicator.
MASTER PREP - The design is sent to the Riso via a USB input or via the scanning bed. Then, the printer burns the master stencil and places it on the drum.
PRINTING - The paper moves through the printer guided by a series of rubber rollers. The paper makes contact with the drum via the pressure roller, and is then ejected from the printer, landing in the exit tray.
Risograph inks are environmentally friendly, as they are made from soy and even rice. Each is slightly transparent, which provides rich territory experimentation. Overlapping various inks often produce exciting new hues! Because Riso ink contains fewer solvents than its traditional inkjet counterparts, its texture and absorbency vary considerably depending on the type of paper used. This characteristic is most visible in larger blocks of color. For a comprehensive list of colors, please visit our "resources" page.
Because of the composition of Riso inks, each dries very slowly and is often easily smudged. Often, as a print exits the printer and lands on the previous copy, a “ghost image” will transfer onto the back. This effect is most likely to occur when printing high-density or ink-heavy designs.
The Riso grabs each sheet of paper using Paper Feed Tires located at the center of the paper feed unit (see the small gear near the paper feed tray in the diagram). When printing multiple colors, often the feed tires will create slight smear marks on the top center of the print, but can be easily erased using a rubber eraser.
Although many Riso prints are designed using digital tools such as Procreate, Photoshop, or InDesign, the resulting prints always contain slight variations. Registration often varies from 1/32” - 1/4,” generating imperfect — but always unique — results.