143 Turk st. #308
San Francisco, Ca

94102 Tenderloin



studio@playplayplay.org


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Risograph
printing press

& fine arts, design,

electronic music

& Research
based in
California.

Play Play Play, Inc is a Risograph printing press based in San Francisco, running a 2-drum Risograph RP3700 Duplicator.

We are particularly interested in exploring the aesthetic, ideological, and technical potential of a Risograph for purposes of self-publication and production of small to medium-run printed matter in this part of the world.

The Risograph printing process can be best described as an occupant of the middle ground between the capabilities of offset lithographic printing, digital printing, photocopying and screen-printing. Traditionally used in schools, churches, small enterprises and independent political parties, the Risograph has now become an alternative method of production due to an increased interest in self-publishing, and its ability to produce high quality prints quickly and inexpensively using colours not achievable by traditional digital printers.

The technology of a Risograph is very similar to screen-printing, using a stencil-based printing process. This method allows the Risograph to produce spot colours and textures similar to screen-printing but at a much quicker rate and a fraction of the cost.

A master is produced by the Risograph’s thermal head, burning a negative image of the original file onto a waxed sheet. The master is wrapped around the print drum and ink is flooded into it. Paper runs flat through the machine while the print drum rotates at a high speed to create an impression on the paper.

Due to the artwork being imaged using a thermal head, a Risograph can print with a higher line screen than most screen printers.

Our RP 3700 is a 2-drum Risograph, meaning two colours can be printed in one pass. However, interchangable colour drums allow for more than two colours to be printed on a single sheet.

Due to its technology, a Risograph makes for cost-effective small-to-medium print runs. We also carry a range of spot colours such as fluorescents that are not achievable with traditional digital printing. This makes the Risograph very suitable for the production of posters, brochures, business cards, invites, envelopes, zines, catalogues, CD packaging, etc.

The Risograph is also more environmentally friendly than offset lithographic printing. Each master is made from banana paper and all inks used are soy-based. The printing process is highly energy-efficient as it only takes a few prints for the master to be fully inked—generating a minimal amount of waste.

The nature of Risograph printing brings about certain limitations. We chose not to hide it, but see these imperfections as part of the intrinsic nature of the machine and its output. Finding creativity in the limitations of a Risograph is something we find charming and interesting.

  • The maximum paper size for a Risograph is A3, and the maximum printable area is 400mm x 277mm, due to a non-printable margin around the edges of the paper.
  • Registration is not perfect when printing on a Risograph. The misalignment is never more than 1–2mm but it is something to consider when designing.
  • Like screen-printing, each print will differ very slightly from one another. There may be slight print marks when printing more than two layers or printing images with high ink density. However, these can be greatly reduced by following our artwork preparation guide.
  • For best results, we recommend to print only using uncoated stock within the range of 70–300gsm.
  • We can only print spot colours, which means that full-colour images will be converted and output as monotone. That being said, we are currently in the midst of experimenting printing full-colour images using 4 spot Risograph colours.

There are many things to consider when printing with a Risograph. The following are what you need to know and consider when running a print job with us.

The Risograph prints using vibrant single-coloured drums. The colours are not related to Pantone/CMYK/RGB colours, but we have tried to match them as closely as possible to a Pantone equivalent. Colours may vary across different screens, so we recommend that you refer to our printing sample pack for a better indication of the actual colours.

These colours can be treated like spot colours, producing different values and tints, as well as overprinting to create interesting results. We currently stock the following colours:

Black

Purple

Medium Blue

Blue

Teal

Green

Yellow

Orange

Bright Red

Fluorescent Pink

We currently stock a range of A3 and A4 uncoated papers that have been tested on our press and are recommended for their ability to work well with the medium.

You are welcome to print using your own paper stock as long as they are suitable to run through the press without damaging the machine. We will be happy to run some tests on your preferred stock, as long as you let us know in advance. We currently stock the following papers:

Recypal
70gsm

Cyclus Offset
100gsm

Maple Bright
100gsm

Maple Bright
250gsm

We have an average turnaround time of 5 working days for straightforward print jobs. However, more complex jobs such as books or multi-coloured prints generally take longer, so please check with us for a better indication of turnaround time.

The costs of printing using a Risograph works on a formulaic structure and varies with each individual job: Size, Quantity, Paper, Number of colours, and Number of pages (for booklets, zines, etc.). Please contact us to request for a quote.

We currently do not have in-house finishing facilities, but are able to provide finishing services via outsourced partners at an additional cost.

We have created a printing and artwork preparation guide to ensure that your artwork is in print-ready condition. Please download a copy here.

We reserve the right to not run jobs that have not met our print specifications.

We have designed a printing sample pack that showcases the capabilities of the Risograph. Please send us an email with your address and we will be happy to send you a treat.

Please feel free to contact us for samples, quotations, questions, or just to say Hello.

As we are a small press, please make prior arrangements via email should you wish to visit us.

Preparation guide

We have created a printing and artwork preparation guide to ensure that your artwork is in print-ready condition. Please download a copy here.

We reserve the right to not run jobs that have not met our print specifications.

Samples

We have designed a printing sample pack that showcases the capabilities of the Risograph. Please send us an email with your address and we will be happy to send you a treat.

Contact us

Please feel free to contact us for samples, quotations, questions, or just to say Hello.

As we are a small press, please make prior arrangements via email should you wish to visit us.