RISO: people should not lose their ideals, then there would be no future
August 24, 2018 2:52 PM   Subscribe

The RISO-Graph, a machine that duplicates like a mimeograph but dispels ink like a screen printer, turns 60 this year. The copier has come a long way from its humble 1958 beginnings in a small home in Tokyo, where it was a home-grown alternative to expensive emulsion ink imports, thriving until offset-laser-screen-printer hybrids came on the market in the late 1980s. Risographs have found a new, vibrant life as fast, inexpensive art production machines, documented on the Stencil site, a RISO wiki for artists, designers, and printers. With non-standard soy-based ink colors, the Atlas of Modern Risography includes details about which machines and inks each shop carries.

To be clear, Risograph machines aren't all old, and the company is active in social and cultural involvement in the community.

The title quote is from founder Noboru Hayama, who believed that "people should not lose their ideals because then there would be no future for Japan as a nation. Thus, we must always pursue our ideals to ensure the future." He reflected this conviction directly into the company name and founded "Riso-Sha," meaning "ideal."
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Heck yeah, we've still got a Riso at work and I find excuses to use it just because you don't really get to do color separations much these days in most jobs.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:59 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Cool post, thanks! Frank Santoro did a series of articles or interviews on the use of riso in comics and zines at The Comics Journal last year. ("This series is going to be an attempt to document the loose use of risograph in comics in the last few years, 2009 to the present.").

Parts one, two, three, four, five, and six. Lots of juicy process details.
posted by rollick at 3:07 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]


I think they hit the sweet spot of repeatability, creative tweaking, quality and low enough cost per page for democratic art production. Much less danger of getting high or starting a fire than with a Banda, too.
posted by scruss at 4:12 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


These machines are so great for art! You can get vibrant colors similar to screen printing, and even metallic and fluorescent colors.
posted by miyabo at 4:43 PM on August 24


Ok that's great but what do the printouts smell like
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:49 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


We had one of these at the school where I used to work. Super fast when you just needed to copy a single page many times. Jammed constantly. We nicknamed it “Rizzo” and people would sing to it when trying to get it to work.
posted by mai at 6:15 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Oh man, yeah, every school in Japan has at least one of these, and they’re great! Five or ten seconds to scan the page initially, then (at least in B&W) you can crank it up to like four pages per second if you’re willing to fly close to the sun and risk a paper jam. Great for making thirty copies for a classroom, though.

A particularly popular thing to do would be to save time and paper by taking the A4 original and shrinking and duplicating it, to print two copies on a sheet of B4 side by side, then stack them and use the paper chopper.

Anyway these machines are just great
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:09 PM on August 24


Super fast when you just needed to copy a single page many times. Jammed constantly.

If somebody asks you to run envelopes in a Riso, you slap the envelopes out of their hands and run far far away because it's a paper jam nightmare.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:13 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


But I have gotten very very good at adjusting the paper catching tray so it perfectly stops a sheet with a satisfying THWACK and gently deposits it with the little plastic fingers in time for the next sheet, so great when it's running smoothly.

But as satisfying THWACKS go, nothing beats our old school A.B. Dick giant hunk of steel and bakelite folding machine, oh man.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:19 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Did this not make it across the Pacific? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this technology until now.
posted by hwestiii at 8:36 AM on August 25


My parents' church (in Scotland) had one in the 1990s, so yes, they made it over. Unlike photocopiers, Risos work best when you have to make lots of copies of the same thing very cheaply. Most people just take the greater expense and flexibility of photocopying.

save time and paper by taking the A4 original and shrinking and duplicating it, to print two copies on a sheet of B4 side by side

Yes, aren't proper paper sizes (aka Available in All of the World Except North America) great?
posted by scruss at 11:41 AM on August 25


I'd never heard of this either, thank you!
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:50 PM on August 25


Yes, aren't proper paper sizes (aka Available in All of the World Except North America) great?

I'll forever be salty about America using weird paper sizes. Every time I get a request to make a full page flyer into a half page handout, which is pretty frequent, I dream of the world that could have been.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:54 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Thank you SO MUCH for posting this! It came at a critical time, as I was wondering how I might forge ahead on my next project. Now I'm looking into purchasing a used RISO duplicator!
posted by Slothrop at 5:58 AM on September 1


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