introducing the mighty risograph machine

The RISOGRAPH printer is a digital duplicator invented in 1986 in Japan by the Riso Kagaku corporation. Its technology is very similar to that of a mimeograph machine, but was developed to print a high volume of copies very quickly and inexpensively. A RISOGRAPH machine can print about 130 pages per minute and is highly economical, becoming cheaper with increasing volume and paling in comparison to the high cost of inkjet printing and most other commercial options.

Our RISOGRAPH works using either a traditional copier scan bed or digitally via a parallel-to-USB cable, burning the image onto a master stencil with a thermal plate. The master stencil is then attached to a fast-rotating ink drum, which presses the ink onto the page through the stencil. Ink Drums are designated to one color at a time and our RISOGRAPH can only house a single drum, thus multi-color prints require multiple runs through the machine.

This process mimics traditional screen printing in that images must be processed one color at a time, in layers, creating interesting variability and depth to the prints.

Because the ink is soy based, these prints are not archival and never 100% "dry", but we believe part of their appeal is in their ephemeral nature and eternal smudginess. RISOGRAPH encourages experimentation, play and fun! There is little room for perfectionism in risography, but there is so much space for innovation and creativity.


Our main machine is a RP3100UI with medium blue, bright red, orange, green, and black drum. We are currently souping up our GR3750, donated to us by TJZF. We are always on the prowl for additional drums and machines.

image size

The RISOGRAPH will print a max image size of 10.25 X 16.25 on 11X17 paper. This provides us room for cutting guide marks and bleed considerations.

paper type

RISO is best suited for paper weights from 20lb bond to 80lb cover stock. RISO ink is soy oil based therefore uncoated paper with high absorbency yields the best results. You are welcome to provide your own paper if it meets these specifications, but we are happy to use our stock or special order paper for your project. 

available colors

Blue (3005 U, #0078BF), Green (354 U, #00A95C), Orange (021 U, #FF6C2F),

Bright Red (185 U, #EE2135), Yellow (YELLOW U, #FFE800),

Black (BLACK U, #000000)

Med Blue (discontinued), Green, Orange, Bright Red on peach paper stock (not pictured: Blue, Yellow, Black)

file preparation

When preparing your images, it is helpful to remember the RISO is not unlike a screen printing machine. You will need to provide PSD, PDF (flattened copy), or JPEG gray-scale images if printing with digital files, and each layer must be its own separate file or channel. Images should be 300-600 dpi. If possible, please include a full color JPEG for our reference. 

When creating your gray-scale image be aware large, dark areas will cause jams and roller marks. It is wise to keep them at 75% opacity or less for the best result. Reserve 100% opacity for important details and text.

The limits of RISOGRAPH allow for the best experimentation, try halftones or textures to break up large areas of print.

We also encourage experimentation using the scan bed to for less predictable results. Collage, illustration, and photography retain lo-fi craftiness this way. Always, we are happy to work with you to test your RISO ideas, but keep in mind we do charge hourly for any image formatting and preparation you may require from us.

considerations + disclaimers

REGISTRATION: Images with more than one layer will have imperfect registration. That is, we can accomplish duo-tone and multi-color images that look great, but they may not be perfectly lined up. The quickness of the printing process means that paper shifts quite a bit during a run. This increases with the number of prints produced at once, but do not despair! Most misregistration looks super neat and you can tell all your friends it was on purpose. 

MARKS + SMUDGING: Roller marks may appear when images have heavily inked areas or when printing double-sided images. We try to mitigate these effects by printing the most heavily inked parts of an image last, however, there is still opportunity for smudging.  These marks can easily be lightened or removed with a soft rubber eraser. 

DRYING: Because of the smudgy nature of soy based inks we tend to wait a couple days between printing layers and prefer to retain finished projects an additional week to allow for optimal drying. Please let us know if a deadline for your project exists, as we're happy to expedite the drying process at your request. In such cases please be aware smudging and markings WILL occur, especially on multi-color prints. This could look v cool, though.

LOVELY TRUTH: Needle marks, uneven areas and ink transfer are all possible and LIKELY, although we do all we can to keep your images as crisp and neat as possible. Part of the art and uniqueness of a RISO print is in its unpredictability! Each print is different from the last, creating a work that exists under the same law that continues to produce your own individual beauty.

cutting + binding

While we do not offer in-house cutting and binding at this time, we can connect you with binders we trust to give you an ideal finished product.

cheap + green

RISOGRAPH printing is incredibly fast, economical and environmentally friendly, making it a great choice for experimentation on a budget. Below you can contact us to request a quote, ask any questions regarding image preparation or view a sample of our pricing chart.

community access

BURN ALL BOOKS is committed to providing inexpensive access to printing services for the activists, POC, LGBTQIA+ and youth of San Diego,CA and Tijuana,B.C.,MX. Using our service will subsidize these projects and enable community outreach. If you have an opportunity for us or would like to make a donation, please do so below.