Friends Make Books is a Risograph print house and design studio located in Torino, run by Joseph Miceli and Lina Ozerkina. We currently operate a Risograph RN2150 with 8 spot colors. The aim of our studio is to facilitate those who are interested in printing and self publishing and to this end we offer a wide range of services from design, printing, binding and finishing.
Riso means ideal in Japanese. The digital printer-duplicator a.k.a. Risograph was invented in 1986 by the Japanese company RISO Kagaku Corporation.
The Risograph printer, or automated mimeograph (Italian: ciclostile automatizzato), is basically a stencil duplicator. The image is imprinted thermographically onto a thin paper master made from banana fiber, creating a screen just like in silkscreening. From that one master you can print a high number of prints extremely fast and economically. Because risograph inks are also soy-based, printing with this tecnique is enviromentally friendly.
How Riso Works
Moments after sending a file to print, the machine makes a new screen (master) by wrapping it around the rotating cylindrical ink drum. Because the ink drum rotates at high speed while printing, the paper is fed flat beneath the drum, thus allowing for thicker stocks of paper to be printed on without bending them. The ink then gets pushed through the voids in the master and onto the paper.
As in the silk-screening process, the machine prints one color at a time. A duotone or full color image is created by switching one ink drum for another and then feeding the same paper back through the machine again. Since the inks are still wet when coming out of the machine, it is important to allow 1-4 hours drying time in between the passages.
Application & Expectations
It is important to understand when choosing to print with the Risograph that it is not hi-res, high-definition or archival. It does not produce perfect results like an inkjet or laser printer. The resulting printed object will inevitably look different from what’s on your screen and each print will be slightly different from the others. Each pass through the printer is a gamble: increasing the number of colors in your artwork means increasing the difficulty of a perfect result.
The Risograph process is best suited for projects that require producing a moderate to high amount of prints. An edition of 25 prints would be the absolute minimum, printing 1000 is not a problem.
Risograph inks are slightly translucent, making it possible to blend them to create new colors. When printing full color images, the CMYK printing process can only be imitated. Over the years we have managed to get good results by substituting Cyan with our Blue and Magenta with our Red.
We currently offer 8 spot colors: Black, Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Federal Blue, Purple and Grey. While Risographs don’t use a color matching system like Pantone, it is possible to roughly match our inks to Pantone codes. Beware that colors also tend to vary according to the paper stock.
Paper and Formats
Our paper size is limited to B4 (25x35,5 cm) with the maximum printing area being 24,5x34,5 cm. Because of the wetness of the ink and pulling of the paper by the machine, all images printed with the Riso need to have a generous margin especially on the leading edge.
Paper weights accepted by the machine range from 60g to 260g paper weight. Because risograph uses soy-derived ink, only uncoated paper is acceptable for use with the Riso. If you have a particular paper you would like to use, keep in mind it should be tested before printing the job to ensure the ink dries properly.
Printing with a Risograph requires a willingness to adapt one’s expectations and to work with ‘the nature of the beast’ as opposed to forcing it to perform like other techniques. For example, printing large flat areas of ink may result in undesirable ink traces (feed marks), although these marks can usually be rubbed off with an eraser. Because the machine is designed to print only one color at a time, multicolored prints may mis-register; to counter this, choose to print full color images where this will not hurt the design and always export your files with trapping and bleed marks.
Printing on a Risograph means working with a lot of limitations but over the years we’ve been able to produce amazing results. We’re always willing to evaluate a new project but we will be the first to tell you if its not going to work within the limitations of the technique.
Our Risograph printer allows sending prints directly to the machine from a pdf or alternately from the built-in glass scanner, like on a photocopier. When preparing a document with multiple color layers, separate each layer by color and then save each layer as a separate PDF document. All colors must then be converted to grey-scale and named according to each color. Please adjust your document size to fit the paper size you will be printing on. If your project requires a final trim, all layers must be exported with 3mm bleed marks. Talk to your designer to find out if Risographic printing is right for you.
Print With Us
If you have a project you want to discuss, or if you want to request a price quote, contact us directly. All print work is priced on a custom basis. We schedule jobs as they come in and since we are a small-scale operation, delivery time can be up to two or more weeks.
Sell With Us
We offer anyone who prints with us the option to stock their work in the FMB Bookshelf. Prints are ordered & paid for as usual, then you can decide how many you want us to keep in stock. From the total sale price we retain 50% and we will deal with all packaging & posting. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.