Risography and Riso prints: Eco-friendly printing with a soy-oil based ink

Updated: Mar 17

Risography was developed in Japan in August 1986. Riso in Japanese means "Ideal" so it is a "clear printer". Riso is a digital duplication printing process that is designed to print short runs and is therefore environmentally friendly and energy efficient. When printing or copying many duplicates (generally more than 20) of the same content, it is typically far less expensive per page than a conventional photocopier, laser printer, or inkjet printer. Secondly, it is a eco-friendly method as soy based ink is being used. #risography #ecofriendly #japan

Risograph printing is internationally loved by artists and creatives for its vibrant qualities that bring out some of the best colour and texture you can find in print.

Equipment and consumables

Seen from the outside, risographs are similar to the dimensions of a photocopier or digital printer, but there are no tabletop machines for home use. A standard machine of the MZ series is 1010 × 725 × 730 sqmm and weighs 168 kg. If components such as paper feed and ejection are unfolded, the printer takes up about 1600 mm in width. In order to properly operate a risograph, consumables such as inks in color cartridges and master foil is needed.

Printing process

Using exposed stencils, a positive copy of a template is made. Although the printing process seems to be most similar to screen printing, it is also attributable to offset printing because of its characteristic properties. But since the Risograph can also produce a unique piece of work without major expenditures, the Risography should ultimately be assigned to digital printing.


At first glance, and because of the fact that a master copy is made, it is most similar to the screen-printing method, but with the advantage that a template for the risographic reproduction (a so-called master film consisting of polyester resin film on paper, which is thermographically exposed) is easier to create and faster to print. Even in industrial screen printing, some time-consuming work steps have to be followed (creating a film, coating the screen, illuminating the screen, washing it out and finally setting it up at the printing table), the trained riso enthusiast needs only 5 minutes from setting up a Print PDF until starting to print.

The thermally exposed master is then fully automatically mounted on the printing drum of the risograph and wetted with ink from the cartridge located in the drum.

The sheets are drawn in at very fast speeds of up to 150 pages / minute and printed positively with the image of the exposed master film in a rotary process, depending on the existing printer model in either one or two colors in one print run.


While a standard laser printer prints about 100 pages in five minutes, the Risograph MZ 1070 can print up to 900 pages in the same time. In addition, the Risograph uses “real”, much more intense ink in a variety of special colors to reproduce a motif, so can print with two of over 20 standardized or 50 special colors can be ordered on A4 or A3 sizes. Since 2014, a riso printer with the maximum printing range of DIN A2 is also available. The prints can be made on paper up to 210g/sqm for usual machines, up to 120g/sqm for the rather “exotic” RISO A2 .


Risography is much more environmentally friendly than other printing techniques. Riso ink is made from soybean oil, these inks contain lower levels of volatile organic compounds, and the use of them results in lower levels of air pollution from toxic emissions. [Note]Risomania, The New Spirit Of Printing, 2017, p. 10 [/note], which makes them much healthier. This means that Riso prints have a unique appearance, which clearly differs from other printing processes by the particularity of this color used, the rich color and the interestingly printed image. It is not necessary to use the four-color CMYK scale to achieve secondary or tertiary colors. Instead, the manufacturer’s color palette is used to reproduce the desired color tones with the respective color equivalents of the color palette. From a print run of 15 pieces, the Risograph is cheaper than a laser or inkjet printer.

In addition to the speed of this printing process, many important factors in the process (such as screening, screen angles or colors) can be determined and influenced, allowing experimental intervention in the print run. So it is not only possible to send the print template via PDF file to the press via a USB connection. All modern risographs have the possibility to reproduce printed images through the scan pad. Whether a file is sent from the computer or a sketch is loaded through the scanner, actually the smooth and perfect aesthetics of a file as well as the homogeneity of digital print products are always left to develop the character of the machine.

Riso Print at Cloudnola

Cloudnola is proud to introduce the eco-friendly Riso Art collection in collaboration with Jorgen Koolwijk. The Mixtape collection is a compilation of music-related prints. The designer was inspired by his favorite music tracks. Jorgen is a Utrecht based designer, Risographer and teacher Creative Design at HU University.



#jorgenkoolwijk #cloudnola #risoprint

See below a few examples of the Riso print collection of Cloudnola.


the living connection

Calle Gabriel y Galan 18

28002 Madrid


+34 673 820 269

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