Printing on a Risograph is a very unique experience. Read on for a thorough walk-through.
The machine works by digitally producing a stencil (made from banana paper), which is wrapped around an ink drum and then duplicates an impression of the image onto paper by rolling it over the drum, through the machine. It’s all automatic, like a photocopier.
It prints one or two layers/colours at a time, which means if you want to print more than two colours, you need to feed the paper through the machine as many times as is needed.
With the ME9350 we can print on many different paper stocks (up to 400gsm), making the printing of small books, CD inserts, street posters, flyers and more completely possible.
The Riso wasn’t designed to be an artistic tool, but it has been adopted as such by people looking for affordable methods of colour reproduction, and people looking for less mass-produced methods of printing. The machine’s flaws, such as slight mis-registry and a sometimes uneven coverage of ink over solid blocks, are often embraced by its users.
The Rizzeria ink colours are:
The inks are soy and water based, and more like paint than ink.
The machine prints in spot colour, which makes colour matching difficult (if you’re doing a project where you need to match colours precisely, it is best to start with the Riso colours and build around that).
Set up your file, as a pdf (no compression) at a minimum of 300dpi.
Separate each part of the image that you want to print in different colours onto different files. Convert the colours into greyscale, with 80% saturation for full coverage (if you have big blocks of ink on the page) and less for lighter shades of colour.
The machine prints well on a variety of uncoated stocks. It’s best to keep weights under 400gsm, and above 60gsm (like newsprint). There are some settings that you can fiddle with regarding paper thickness if you’re willing to experiment.
The maximum printing area is 290x412mm, with a 4mm border.
Image resolution is important for quality results. If you scan any photographic images, you should scan them at a minimum 350 dpi (dots per inch) and at the actual size you intend to print them.
Line art images (1-bit tifs) should be scanned at a minimum 600dpi (1200dpi preferred) and at the actual size to be printed.
Low Resolution Images
Beware of using images saved as low-res JPEGs and used on web sites. Images used on web sites are optimized for screen/monitor viewing. These images tend to be only 72 dpi and are too low of a resolution for commercial printing.
*Your monitor displays images between 72 and 96 dpi. To adequately view print resolution on a monitor, you should zoom in 400%.
Bleeds & Margins
In order to print a color to the edge of a sheet of paper, we must actually print past the document size, and then cut the paper to size.
What’s a bleed?
It is the portion of the card that will be trimmed off when cut to the final size.
The purpose of a bleed is to continue a color, image or design to the edge of the card.
Registration & Trapping
Allow for 2mm trapping.
Print Size, Paper Size
The maximum printable area is 297mm x 412mm.
The maximum paper size is 345mm x 430mm.
Screens can be removed from the drum after they have been exposed. This is an excellent and cheap method of making temporary screens in a more sustainable manner than traditional screen exposure methods. We offer workshops in this method of screen printing, so if you’re interested, come along!
Internal rollers can leave marks, which are erasable.
Ink density will vary and be a bit patchy/noisy over solid shapes.
Machine can be finicky on images with large amount of coloured areas.
Machine can be finicky. It is its charm. Being ready to accept the eccentricities of the machine is an important part of printing on the Riso.
Even when dry, the soy ink can smudge a bit, rather like newspaper print. A plain eraser can take the smudges off, and I’ve found varnishing prints with heavy coverage helps to minimise smudging.
For more precise printing, it’s best to stick to one colour, toothy mid-weight paper and light coverage.
Printing on the Riso can take a bit longer than you’d imagine. It is fast, once things are set up, but if you’re tight on time, remember to factor in drying time between layers and allow for errors in registration if it is tight on your work.
For troubleshooting, check out the manuals on site.
But don’t be scared! Check out our samples box on site, and our Instagram to see what beautiful works have been printed with us.
For more info check out Paper Pusher, Canadian Riso Press’s amazing print guide!