RISO’s 20 Years of Production Inkjet

By Ralf Schlozer / Published:

Founded in 1946, RISO has historically been a major player in duplicators, also known as stencil printing. Appearing almost like copiers from the outside, duplicators use an internally produced stencil for short run print. As the master is fixed, variable print and single copies are not efficient but thanks to the low ink costs runs of several copies start to become cost-efficient compared to a toner-based copier.

A major step into new markets was the launch of the first colour production inkjet printer in 2003, the ComColor HC5000. While duplicators are mostly monochrome, seldom featuring a spot colour option, the HC5000 allowed full colour printing and variable data print in addition. The HC5000 was jointly developed with Olympus and in 2011 RISO acquired the business unit from Olympus that supported the development.

Several generations of devices followed, driving up speed and diversifying the product portfolio. Today, the top speed of inkjet engines is 165 A4 ppm. The first model(s) targeted the overlap between production print and high-end office. This evolved into separate product lines for mainly office print (today the FT-Series) and production print. In 2019 RISO rolled out the Valezus brand to mark devices specifically directed at production print.

The Production Print Line-up

Today three products are targeted at professional print and the overlap to high-end office print. Two products are new in 2022, with the new Valezus T1200 being launched in October. Finally, the GL replaces the GD-series and is more targeted at printrooms and CRDs.

All new devices feature a slightly higher speed and some quality improvements compared to the previous devices. The T1200 has similar specs to the GL9730, but does feature new inks and software and has a better quality consequently (despite the same imaging specs), furthermore, it is designed for higher monthly volumes.

RISO Production Inkjet Devices

GL9730

Valezus T1200

Valezus T2100

Speed duplex/simplex

165/165 A4 ipm

165/165 A4 ipm

320/160 A4 ipm

Type of engine

Single engine

Single engine

Twin engine

Imaging resolution

Black: 600 x 600 dpi
other colours: up to 600 x 300 dpi

Black: 600 x 600 dpi
other colours: up to 600 x 300 dpi

Black: 600 x 600 dpi
other colours: up to 600 x 300 dpi

Colours

CMYK + grey

CMYK + grey

CMYK + grey

Max paper size

340 x 550 mm

340 x 460 mm

340 x 460 mm

Paper weight

46 – 400 gsm

46 – 210 gsm

46 – 210 gsm

Recommended Monthly volume

200 – 500k

400-800k

750k – 2 million

Energy consumption

1 kW

1.3 kW

2.67 KW

The printers use oil-based ink, which does not require active drying – the oil simply soaks into the paper. Not requiring a dryer keeps the devices compact and the energy consumption low.

Image of RISO Valezus T2100 printer

RISO Valezus T2100 printer

The imaging resolution is not very high considering what other inkjet printers can reach today. With the introduction of 600 dpi for the black heads and adding grey ink a few years ago the image quality improved compared to the first models. Grey ink is used to back up black, improve lighter tones, achieve smoother gradients and widens the gamut as well. CMY and grey are imaged at 300 x 300 dpi at full speed with 300 x 600 dpi possible at “fine print” setting.

The Valezus printers are available with a range of optional equipment such as a roll paper feeder and sheeter, Tecnau in-line perforation, as well as inline enclosing with Bowe Systec.

An advantage of the RISO printers are the environmental credentials. Omitting a drier reduces the power requirements noticeably. No ozone is produced, and no ventilation is required. The inks are de-inkable.

Depending on the configuration; a T1200 will typically cost between €60k and €90k and the twin-engine Valezus T2100 between €110k and €160k. Considering the speed this provides a great price-performance ratio.

Applications and Users

Based on resolution and speed, the RISO printers target non-graphic arts applications. These typically include transactional, governmental, statutory and book printing, low coverage direct mail, newsletters and communications print. The printers only use uncoated paper. Most efficient are the printers on low coverage jobs, hence the upper limits of ink lay-down are seldom tested.

The user base ranges from small in-house print sites to large corporations. Smaller operations often started out with duplicators and moved to colour inkjet. Accordingly, the printers are often found in print rooms in schools and universities, governmental entities, churches or some in-house print sites.

Larger users often invested in a RISO as a backup or reprint solution for large, roll-fed printers. For some, the RISO printers even became the main production devices. There is a number of companies with multiple devices in use. As the devices are quite compact, they take up limited space as well in multiple installations.

The Paragon Group, a large communication services provider, has about 30 devices installed within a number of sites in Europe and produces about 50 million impressions a month, across transaction, direct mail and governmental communications. A big user in the UK is the Adare Group, where several printers are employed for transactional print, direct mail, governmental communications and carrier sheets. The RISO production printers have optional support for IPDS, which makes them suitable for transaction print.

Large in-house print operations use the RISO as well. Debeka, a large German insurer, fitted their printroom with six RISO Valezus T2100 printers and average 1.7 to 2.2 million pages a month per device. Other companies in financial, communication and government use multiple devices as well.

The Fit of RISO Inkjet

In my experience, RISO does not come to everybody’s mind when talking production inkjet. Still, the footprint is substantial. With about 200 systems sold into production print environments every year in Western Europe only, there is sizeable demand in the market and print volumes produced are substantial. In almost 20 years since their introduction, the printers did not change fundamentally, however, experienced constant improvements and some differentiation to better address the targeted markets.

Some might remember that in 2016 RISO showcased the T1 concept model – a 2-up web-fed inkjet printer with a speed of 565 ppm. The T1 was based on the same imaging technology but has not seen the market so far. It feels as if there is limited merit in pushing the concept as there are plenty of web-based inkjet printers, but the field of cut-sheet offers remains small. In my opinion, it would be more promising to move into plant-based inks (as Ricoh presented last year) to bank on the environmental credentials and to up the imaging resolution for the colour channels.

With the Valezus printers, RISO has a unique offering for low-investment but productive, environmentally friendly compact cut-sheet printers. A choice of controllers and in-line equipment make the printers quite versatile when imaging quality and paper range are not the biggest concern. There are plenty of applications that are intended to inform rather than to dazzle with high-quality graphics and this is likely to stay.

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About the Author

Ralf Schlozer

Ralf Schlozer is Independent Print Analyst. Ralf provides analysis, sizing and forecasting the market for digital printing technologies and associated applications and business processes. Connect with Ralf on LinkedIn

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