Print Gocco Machine

Ah, the things you find on your computer while looking for other things. Here’s an article I wrote in, oh, I think 2005 on the Print Gocco.

Product Review: Print Gocco

by Elaine D. Luther

We all know the value of color printing, a unified professional image and all that, but carrying out those values can get expensive.

One tool that can help you lower some costs is the Riso Print Gocco thermal silkscreen machine, another fabulous product from Japan.

What is it? It’s a thermal silkscreener. If the word silkscreen makes you think of photo emulsion and mess, try to forget all that. The way this silkscreen process works is with pre-treated screens, flashbulbs, and photocopies.

I use it to:

* print T-shirts, mostly for gifts
* print multi-color earring cards (printing all colors at once)
* print the backs of 4 color postcards for a specific show or show

It can also be used to make custom labels for quilts, if you have any quilters in your life. And it’s used by lots of people for making cards.

You prepare your artwork, photocopy it, one mark darker than the auto setting, then set it in the machine with the blue photocopy filter. Then flash the flash bulbs, which burns the image into the screen. Now where ever there was black ink, the ink will flow through.

Printing on paper is easily done with the same machine as the one that makes the screen. It really is easy. T-shirts can be done with a nifty little tool that seems incredibly over priced, but it makes printing on fabric really easy.

For jewelry, you can use it to print your own earring cards, printing multiple colors at one time, and you can print your logo onto those cardboard jewelry boxes (if you have the T-shirt accessory tool).

The Print Gocco can also be used to print a special resist onto metal for etching. The blue resist is available from Rio Grande. (though many people seem to prefer Press ‘n Peel paper, commonly referred to as PnP paper.) I have tried both and for me, the PnP works better since it allows finer lines than the Print Gocco with blue resist.

Possibly the coolest thing you can do with Print Gocco is to silkscreen on fabric. Now you can have your own logo imprinted clothing at your next art fair.

And, in your spare time, it’s great for making gifts.

I originally bought the Print Gocco over ten years ago from Rio Grande, when they sold it in the Display and Packaging Catalog as the “Multi-Color Printer,” and in the tools catalog as the “Rio Etch Master System.”

I bought it to print multi color earring cards and etch resist. It has really been worth the money. Over the years I have used to print show announcement cards, the aforementioned earring cards and lots of custom T-shirts and baby onsies.

Through my volunteer work, we used the Print Gocco with high school and junior high school age kids and they did great things with it. It really is easy. I encourage you to try it.

The limitation of the machine is that you can only print images that are smaller than 4 x 6 inches. There is a larger machine, but the price increase is significant. The 4 x 6 inch size machine can be purchased for around $100.00. The consumables for each screen aren’t cheap either: about $5.00 per screen that you make. So it makes the most sense for something that you want a lot of copies of.

You’ll need to buy inks; different ones for paper and for fabric. For fabric I’ve used official Print Gocco inks and Speedball brand. The safest bet is to use Print Gocco inks, though I’ve only ever had one problem with Speedball inks. One can of ink was too thin for the Gocco screen and too much ink came through.

What about convenience, quality and cost?

Quality is very good, as long as you take care with your original and your printing. The cost per item printed depends on how many you print of each item per screen that you make. If you make a screen for a gift T-shirt, and only make one, your cost will be $5.00 plus ink for that one shirt. If you print your own earring cards by making the original and then printing 200, your cost is 2 1/2 cents each (plus ink) per earring card. Plus the cost of the pre-purchased earring card.

The earring card in the picture is printed in two colors, which were printed at the same time.

What doing it yourself gives you is flexibility, control and the ability to do short runs. And the more professional look that comes from having materials that don’t look photocopied.

For more information, see my post, “Are You Loco for Gocco?”

Where to take classes in Chicago: Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, Paper Source.

To buy the etching resist to use with Print Gocco: Rio Grande’s “Blue Etching Resist,” item no. 118-119.

Update 1/08/09: An Alternative to Gocco

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