Printing Technology


"red risography printed page"

In collaboration with Drucken 3000 in Berlin

Riso printing ...

… was developed by the Japanese company Riso. This stencil-based printing technique  can be classed between digital printing and screen printing. It is very environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

The handmade aesthetics and the expressive, vibrant colours that can be achieved  remind us of lithographs or screen prints.

Best possible uses of Riso printing?

Risograph printing is ideal for vibrant art prints, art magazines, zines, art & photo books. Riso is also popular for special flyers and postcards.

What is special about Riso printing?

While the Risograph looks like a greyish photocopier from the 1980s, its print results are all the more thrilling: It prints exclusively with brilliant decorative colours rather than using CMYK. Riso benefits from the unique charm of the limitations that come with its underlying technology: No CMYK colour space, no glossy paper, but register deviations, handmade charm and fantastic combinations as a result of printing several layers of transparent colours.

The Risograph offers a selection of three halftone ranges up to 106 lpi (lines per inch) and a frequency-modulated screen that is ideal for subtle illustrations – leading to a very precise representation of typography and photos. 

Another great feature is the Risograph’s eco-friendliness. Its colours are soy-based and the stencils (master sheets) are made from banana fibres.

Riso printing is very energy efficient, since colours are not fixed with heat. And using ink instead of toner avoids the production of particulates.

What are the advantages and the disadvantages of this technique?

The disadvantage is actually an advantage: You cannot print with CMYK colours. The ideal approach is to use a limited amount of two or three colours, which leads to smart and striking designs. One great advantage of Riso printing is that it’s so environmentally friendly. However, since no fixing agents are used, the printed areas are slightly sensitive.

Why is Riso printing so popular at the moment?

Riso printing is cost-effective and eco-friendly. The results impress with a great finish & feel and lively colours.

How does the technique work?

For each colour layer separate greyscale PDF files are either sent from the computer to the Risograph or read via the integrated scanner unit.

The Riso produces a master sheet for each colour using a laser. This stencil is wrapped around an ink drum with a very fine steel screen. By rotating the drum the colour is pressed through the screen and the laser-treated master film onto the paper which runs underneath the drum. The method is similar to screen printing.

The Riso colour range consists of around 20 standard colours, among them classics such as black and red, but also fluo pink and fluo orange. You can also print in white, matt gold and many other colours.

Contrary to offset or screen printing, Riso printing can be cost-effective for print runs from ten sheets onwards. The input for producing the master and setting up the printer is manageable. Risograph can even work well for higher volumesbecause the process can print approximately 150 sheets per minute.

Since the colour dries very slowly, only uncoated papers are suitable for Riso printing.

Open, bulkier papers such as ROUGH and EXTRAROUGH are the ideal choice. Grammages between 60 and 350 gsm are possible and the maximum paper size is A3+.

How did Riso printing evolve?

In 1986, the Japanese company RISO Kagaku Corporation launched the first Risograph (or short: the Riso). At the time, it was mainly used for  cost-effective and fast copying in schools and the offices of public authorities. However, over time, Riso printing has become an increasingly popular printing technique for specialised publishers, artists and illustrators.

How do you see the future of this method?

Risograph printing will win more and more friends where deeply emotional print experiences are an integral part of the communication quality. It is a unique combination that forms a very attractive mix: On the one hand, the designer experiences full digital handling, and on the other hand, the user experiences the delights of a fantastic finish & feel.

Printing house

Printing houses with offering for Risography

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