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What is a GOCCO Printer?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

A GOCCO printer is a table-top color screen printing device. It was created in Japan by Noboru Hayama in 1977 and produced by a company called Riso. The ease with which it allowed personal printing made it very popular in its home country. In its early years, there was a GOCCO printer in close to one-third of all Japanese homes.

The printer body consists primarily of two small, rectangular pieces of plastic connected by a hinge. The bottom portion holds a soft rectangular printing bed upon which the item to be printed is laid. The top portion can be moved up and down and has a plastic window in its center, directly over the bed.

Woman painting
Woman painting

An open-ended plastic box into which flashbulbs are screwed fits exactly over the plastic window. In order to burn an image to be printed, this box is placed open-side down on top of the printer. A disposable screen coated with emulsion slides into a slot on the top inside portion of the GOCCO printer. Then a carbon-based image, such as an image from a copier or a laser printer, is placed on the printing bed.

In order to print the image on the screen, the top of the bulb box is placed on top of the plastic window in the GOCCO printer. The top right portion of the lid contains batteries, which send power to the flash bulb box. When the lid is pressed down, it sets off the flashbulbs, burning the image on the printing bed onto the screen.

After the image has been burned onto the screen, it is removed from the printer and coated with special GOCCO ink. Then the ink coated screen is returned to the slots in the top of the printer. The item to be printed is placed on the bed in the bottom of the printer.

In order to print the image, the top half of the printer is firmly depressed onto the print bed surface, working like a stamp to affix the image to the item. The printed item is then removed from the GOCCO printer and laid out to dry. Additional copies of the same item can be made until the ink on the screen runs out. The screen can also be cleaned and re-coated with different colors of ink.

Citing declining GOCCO sales, Riso announced in 2005 that it would no longer produce the printer. The rise of computers and affordable color printers had made a dent in the market for personal screen printing. Riso shipped the last of its GOCCO printer supplies in 2008 and officially broke all ties with the printer.

In the years since the printer has been out of production, there has been a movement among GOCCO aficionados to convince Riso to make it available again. Crafters in the United States are particularly vocal in their desire to purchase the printer. In response to the requests of GOCCO users, Riso now produces basic supplies for the printer, including screens and ink.

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