Friday, 9 January 2015

inkjet printer costs test

For printer running costs and fonts see also  

    I have some other posts about ink-saving and how to save paper with different layouts.
      Firms like Epson test their printer costs on international standard test pages. I discover this from Computer World's "how we test" page, which is one of the printer running cost test sites listed on this page from Island Inkjet. The trouble is that these calculations build-in the cost of the cartridge, rather than telling you a figure in milliliters of ink. If you're interested in price, you'll buy cheaper cartridges, or bottled ink and a pipe for a continuous inkjet supply system and you won't be so interested in how many gills in a quart make a bellyfull or whatever measurement system exists in the USA. The tests use default settings as well.

      A site called The Ink Factory quotes some test results of Epson's tests for colour printers, and quoted the coverage of black ink at 240 test pages per 5.1ml cartridge or 0.02125 ml of ink per page. Tests are done without cleaning cycles. Cleaning cycles are the things that flush as much ink as possible down the loo for no reason. Printer drivers also tend to revert to their default settings unless you adjust them from the printer default part of your operating system. When adjusting, there are puzzing bits. Hewlett Packard explain their "ret" option here for example.

      There are some images of ISO printer test documents here. Ink Factory gives instructions for finding other test documents that come with your operating system such as Windows. Or you can pay ISO £75 to find out the precise wording of a test document or get an original copy to use.

      An example of a big print job is for someone who wants to stand for the UK parliament in a constituency of 100,000 people, which is (?) one pallet of paper and anyway costs about £500 at 0.5p per A4 sheet. 50,000 letterboxes is common. Sending each constituent an ISO test document with 5% ink coverage could use 2.125 litres of ink, which isn't bad - possibly £106.25 or a fifth the price of the paper. I don't know if any political researcher has tried using free postage for candidates to send an ISO test document and counted the votes, but there would be a few votes cast by mistake or to encourage the underdog or in exasperation at the main candidates. A candidate like this got 84 votes where I live at the last election - between one or two pounds per vote in ink. There is more about UK elections in Richmond Park constituency here.

      The Inkfactory site suggests looking-up product brochures for your printer to see test results, and has a printer manual search box on their page to help you track the thing down.
      540 pages text (ISO/IEC 10561 standard business letter pattern);
      378 pages graphic (? 5% coverage)
      ...is what my old printer's brochure suggested for the orginal cartridge's 13ml of ink (note how newer cartridges are less than half the size) so 2.407 litres for the constituency. There's also the cost of wearing out the printer, which doesn't look as though it could do 100,000 sheets even with a coffee break. It was free on Trashnothing.com / freecycle but cost a lot of time and patience as well as a bit of travel.

      The next problem is how to get maximum readability for this 5% or X%, which is just a short business letter with some graphics in the international standard. One of the other posts in this blog quotes Gerard Unger, who has tought graphics and font design at a college as well as designing one or two fonts. He claims that Adobe Font Manager Pro had tested the ink coverage of his Gulliver typeface. It turns out that there other ink coverage meters with free trials, and free ones that calculate from .tiff .jpeg and some .png images of pages, so it could be possible to cost a printing job without spending any money.

      • http://www.tiff-tools.com/freeprintcoverage.aspx is one print coverage estimator that someone released free in a fit of optimism, for .tif files only.
      • http://lab.dejaworks.com/dev/inc-toner-consumption-calculator for .jpg files, and .png without a transparent background, so not the .png files used for type display.
        Dejaworks measured the candidate leaflet above @ 14.1% black for A5. The "strong local champion" A4 letter in the same Richmond on Thames constituency from electionleaflets.org uses 10½% black, 5½% each of colours except for blue which only gets one and three quarter percent. "No canvassing without a manifesto, please" is over 5%, "straight talking" is over 45% ink on one side and over 95% on the other side.
      • Somone on a web forum wrote "To calculate this I open the document in Photoshop (CMYK, no colour management), flatten it and apply the average blur tool, then it's just a matter of seeing the CMYK percentages.".I quote that in full to save trying to understand what it means. I hope that Gimp and Getpaint.net have this function as well as the free-ish Photoshop CS2
      • Toner Coverage Meter measures a .jpg such as a scan. It is free and open source, from Frederico Gimanez (who also wrote a free pothole tracker that works on GPS signals and an accelerometer.) Both projects might want volunteer help for more development and are available as a base for your separate projects if you want.
      • Commercial printers might use one of the pre-flight features in upmarket software or standalone. There's a discussion about them here http://www.prepressure.com/design/basics/tic
      • Priprinter.com - a bundle of pre-press features including cost estimation, ink saving by printing thinner, deleting unwanted pages, changing margins, and saving to pdf instead of printing. Free with an acknowledgement printed on each page, or paid-for with options from $25 to $95. The program is from Pelikan Software of Hungary. http://www.priprinter.com/features.htm
         
      • Scribus, the open source desk-top publishing program, is aimed at people who use preflight tests and the default menu has some. I don't know how to find details or adapt the program to get ink coverage onto the menu. Krita for Linux and Inkscape for vector graphics is still an open source programs for the print trade.



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