Risograph Printing

Wed, 2012-06-27 20:59 -- george

Printing at Issue Press

Bridging the gap between photocopier and offset printing, Risograph digital duplicators have traditionally been used in offices to do large print runs of one or two color documents.

Like a mimeograph, the Risograph works by transferring an image (either from a digital file or from the glass top) to a thin stencil called a "master." The master is then wrapped around a single color drum filled with liquid ink. The ink is pushed through the master and on to the paper (which runs flat through machine) while the drum rotates at high speed. It looks a lot like this animated .gif

Paper & Printable Area

The Risograph can print on a variety of uncoated paper sizes and stocks. There are, however, several limitations. Because these machines were traditionally meant for office use, tabloid (11 x 17") is the maximum paper size. Risographs cannot print full bleed and require a 3/8" (.375") border on each side. They will then be cut to the project's finished size after it dries.

Tabloid paper size: 11 x 17" | printable area: 10.25 x 16.25"
Letter paper size: 8.5 x 11" | printable area: 7.75in x 10.25"

To make the most of the format, use tabloid size paper wherever possible. If you are looking to print letter size images, for example, double up to print more copies with less impressions.

Because of the liquid ink, Risographs cannot print on coated or glossy paper. We have found great success with recycled and vellum papers, anything with a decent tooth. We recommend paper weights between 20# bond paper and 100# cover stock. 100# is only available at limited sizes, we will not print 11 x 17" prints on 100# cover. We have found the greatest success with paper milled at French Paper Co., an excellent family-run paper mill located about 90 miles away from us. For budget paper, we recommend several Domtar stocks.

Recommended Papers

  • French Paper Co. Speckletone, Poptone, & Dur-o-tone Newsprint - 70# Text / 65#, 80# Cover Weight
  • Domtar Cougar Vellum - White/Natural 70# Text Weight
  • Domtar Cougar Digital Smooth - White / Natural 70# text Weight
  • Domtar Earthchoice Colors & Vellum Bristol - Pastels/Light Colors 60# Text / 65# Cover Weight
  • Neenah Astrobright - Bright/Fluorescent Colors 60# Text / 65# Cover Weight

While we use these papers often, most jobs will require a special order from either our paper supplier or directly from the mill. Because of our proximity to French Paper Co., most mill orders come next day.

Preparing Your Art

For any project, please provide both print files and a low-res color composite to use as a guide. Print files can be either channel (NOT LAYER!!) separated color PDFs or pre-separated grayscale pdfs (one for each color - with color in the filename. Ex. "your-name_project-title_black.pdf), formatted in normal reading order (front cover, inside cover, page 1, page 2, etc.) as pages not spreads. If the project is full bleed, include at least 1/8" bleed area but no additional crop marks and margins, they will be added when the file is setup for printing. We really recommend using lossless ZIP compression over lossy JPG compression because JPG has a tendency to add a lot of gross digital noise that the RISO definitely WILL print. To make things easier, feel free to use these settings when exporting your PDF.

Remember to make important details like text and outlines pure black (#000000), but avoid large patches of pure black because the Risograph does not handle areas like these very well. Please use 70% - 90% value (depending on the size of the area and ESPECIALLY if its going to be full bleed). For raster images (i.e. from photoshop), provide at 600 dpi if possible. For type and vector images and line art, do not flatten your PDFs - they will print better if you don’t! It is 100,000% absolutely recommended that you DO NOT USE PHOTOSHOP TO LAYOUT TEXT. You will likely be unsatisfied with the result as it was not designed for printing text and does some weird things to the text vectors. Instead we recommend using InDesign to combine text with your Photoshop raster and Illustrator vector art. If you have any questions about any of this, please get in touch ([email protected]).

If you need help preparing color-separated print-ready PDFs, we are able to help for an additional hourly fee.

Additional notes

  • Registration will not be perfect, nor will each impression. In fact, it is best to assume that misregistration WILL happen. Part of the appeal of this process is the slight variation present across an edition.
  • It is not uncommon in multi layer prints to experience roller marks along the leading edge. Luckily, these can be erased easily with a soft white eraser.

Print Samples

Please browse the shop for samples of our work.

Request a Quote

To request a quote, please fill out the below form. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch: [email protected]

Color Options

Black - Black U
Burgundy - 235 U
Orchid - 2592 U
Blue - 3005 U
RISOFederal Blue - 288 U
Light Teal - 320 U
Kelly Green - 368 U
Moss - 371 U
Flat Gold - 1245 U
Yellow - Yellow U
Sunflower - 116 U
Orange - Orange 021 U
Red - Warm Red U
Bright Red - 185 U
Fluorescent Pink - 806 U
Fluorescent Orange - 805 U
Aqua - 637 U
Mint - 324 U
Metallic Gold - 872 U

Minimum of 50, but RISO usually starts to really make financial sense at 100 copies or more.
Including Cover. Saddle stitch booklets must have page counts in multiples of 4 (16, 24, 28, etc.).
Sizes above 5" x 8" are less economical as they will require two-up printing on a Risograph (11" x 17" max. sheet size), which doubles the printing and master cost. It will often require short paper as well, which is more expensive than grain long.
Self Cover means that the exterior cover is printed on the same paper stock as the interior pages.
e.g. 80# French Paper Co. Speckletone Cream or "cheap cream card stock."
Leave blank if no inside printing
1-sided (outside) laminated covers are recommended if it is a particularly inky cover and for extra protection. This service is outsourced and will add additional time and usually about $1 per copy, depending on quantity.
e.g. "70#text French Paper Co. Speckletone Cream" or "cheap cream text."
leave blank for a non-printed notebook.
e.g. "80#cover French Paper Co. Speckletone Cream" or "cheap cream text weight."
Ink Colors
Leave blank if no printing on back
e.g. "80#cover French Paper Co. Speckletone Cream"
Ink Colors
Leave blank if no printing on back
e.g. "100#cover French Paper Co. Speckletone True White"
Ink Colors
Leave blank if no printing on back
Bleed is where the printed images runs off the edge of the finished cut sheet. For full bleed projects, art must be extended an extra 1/8" all sides.
Extra information that will help in quoting the project, particularly color information (ex. "Metallic Gold only on the cover and center spread"). Otherwise it will be assumed that specified colors will be used on every press sheet.
Please provide a low-resolution composite of the project
Files must be less than 2 MB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg png eps tif psd pdf zip.
Typical turnaround is about 2-3 weeks for publications, and 2 weeks for everything else. But, as always, the more time the better. Any deadline with less than a 2 week lead time will be considered a rush order and be subject to additional fees.
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