When we arrived at the print co-op we were introduced to James who showed us round the facilities and walked us through the risograph print process.
The 'Footprint Workers Co-op' is a co-operatively owned printing business (the company is owned by the workers) run by a group of very friendly, interesting individuals. They offer a complete risograph printing service with binding options available too.
One of the co-op's beliefs is to run a completely environmentally friendly print service, this means that the inks used are soy based and all paper is recycled. As an ethically driven designer this concept really interested me as I am always looking for ways to make my practice more environmentally friendly. The company stood out to me as a business that I would like to work with in the future when printing my outcomes.
The printer shown below works in a similar fashion to screen-printing, hence why some people refer to the process as 'Digital screen-printing'.
- This is the printing drum, ink containers are placed into the centre of the drum with the stencil attached to the outside.
- When on, the ink is pushed out of the drum, through the stencil and onto the design.
- Detail shot showing the stencil on the drum, the design that will be printed can be just be seen.
- There is a special paper used for the stencil which costs a lot of money, this accounts for some of the standardised set up cost for each print job.
- The print is passed through this section of the machine before being fired out into the collection tray.
- The printer is capable of printing up to around 150 sheets a minute, however when running at higher speeds print imperfections are more common.
- This image shows the machine used for binding, otherwise known as a collating machine.
- Piles of paper containting individual spreads are placed onto each shelf of the machine.
- When on, the machine will take a piece of paper from each shelf and bind using staples.
- An applicable print method for runs over 100.
- Cheap and environmentally friendly.
- Inks can take a while to dry and still smudge even when dry.
- Can only print up to A3 in size.
After James had finished speaking about the various aspects of the Risograph print process he let us take a selection of prints from the recycling pile.
I am planning on cutting up these example prints and using them in my print guide to act as a physical print example for the audience. Including printed examples allows users to see the effects achieved using the individual print method.
I originally wanted to print my own examples using the risograph printer, however James explained that there is a standardised set cost charged on each job for the inks and stencil paper. Therefore, small run jobs are just not worth the set up cost.
Firstly, I really enjoyed visiting the studio as it introduced me to some information my internet based research did not cover, the visit also gave me the opportunity to see the printer in action and review the quality of the prints.
The printed outcomes have an effect very similar to screen-printing, a print method that has been at the forefront of my design practice since I started the course last year. As the print process is able to produce these screen-print style outcomes it is very relevant to my print driven design practice. Moreover, combine this with the fact that the at the printing process is environmentally friendly and you have a print method which perfectly suits my ethos and practice as a designer.
Finally, visiting the studio has only furthered my interest into the print method, after learning more about the specifics of the process and seeing the quality of the outcomes I have realized that this is a print process I hope to regularly introduce into my practice.