Risography, an eco-friendly printing technique

Risographic printing, although generally little known, dates back to the end of the 80s. In particular, it was conceived by RISO Kagaku Corporation in 1986 and it is a printer-duplicator known as Risograph. This printer can be defined as an evolution of the automated mimeograph machine, an invention dating back to 1887 and based on Thomas Edison's patents. The first mimeograph was Albert Black Dick's Edison Mimeograph, whose reproduction technique consisted in the use of a paper matrix covered with a layer of wax. The latter was engraved by the action of the hammers of the typewriter, thus allowing the ink to pass through the wax-free areas and impress itself on the underlying sheets during printing.

Contrary to what it might seem, the term risography does not refer to the use of rice paper sheets as matrices, but derives from the Japanese word "rice", which means "ideal", probably indicating the utopian goal of developing a perfect printing method.

In practice, it is a method of duplicating a stencil made by heat-imprinting the starting image on a thin sheet of banana fiber. The image acquired on the matrix is ​​formed by numerous small holes which allow the ink to pass through and impress itself on the sheets of paper.

source: https://www.favini.com/news/risograph-dal-ciclostile-ai-giorni-nostri/
The matrix is ​​wound around a cylinder in which the ink is contained. During printing, the cylinder rotates at high speed: the centrifugal force brings the ink to the surface of the matrix, it passes through the holes and is impressed on the paper sheets. This printing technique allows the use of only one color at a time. For this reason, a special matrix must be prepared for each color and the process must be repeated by inserting the sheet into the printer each time. When it comes out of the machine, the ink is still wet and it is therefore necessary to wait a few hours before moving on to the next color level. The superimposition of the colors with the consequent possibility of modulation of the halftones, and the presence of any small out of register allow to achieve unique results that are highly appreciated in the artistic environment.
source: https://www.risograph.it/tecnologia
The Risograph printer is in fact today a trendy tool, used in a creative way by photographers, designers and graphic artists, creating unique results for each copy of the edition that is sent to print. The allure of risographic printing has to do with its analogue, not fully automated nature, which makes each print run slightly different from the next.

Due to its intrinsic characteristics, risography is often defined as a printing method halfway between screen printing and offset printing. Thanks to the use of semi-transparent inks, unlike screen printing, half tones can also be obtained with Risograph printing. Furthermore, it is possible to modulate the density of the screen by exploiting it for artistic uses. The type of paper that best lends itself to this printing technique is particularly absorbent and thick so that the ink can penetrate quickly. In any case however, each paper reacts to the Risograph printer in a different way, obtaining unique and surprising results.

But the curiosities regarding the Risograph print are not finished. In fact, we can define risography as an eco-friendly printing technique as the ink that is used is soy-based, resin-free and without volatile solvents, allowing environmentally friendly printing. The system also makes it possible to reproduce a large number of copies with low energy expenditure due to its cold process. Consider that it saves up to 95% electricity compared to a typical medium-sized printer.

If you are curious to understand what we are talking about, come and take a closer look at our risographic prints in the gallery. In agreement with the artists, we decided to use this technique for "Bigoli in Salsa" by Matthias Orsi and "Un Giro" by Giulia Serafin, both made with three-color Risograph printing on Arena Natural Smooth 250 gr paper.

One round, Giulia Serafin, €28

Bigoli in sauce, Matthias Orsi, €28