Is this kid right? Could changing the font result in significant savings on ink and toner?

I bolded the interesting part. The kid submitted this to the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI), a publication founded by a group of Harvard grad students in 2011. Projecting this study to the US gov printing he’s estimating a potential 30% – or $136 million per year. :eek:

I disagree with this article. Making this change would be quite simple in MS Word. Change the default font for new documents to Garamond. I could change all the staff pc’s in my dept in an hour. Big organizations can do it through remote desktop.

But, is the kid right? Would changing the font create a 20% to 30% savings in ink and toner?

A Garamond lower case “e” easily covers 25% less than Times New Roman “e”.

Sure, why not? It’s actually pretty easy to see this for yourself, just print a document with a mix of both fonts and look at it with a magnifying glass.

Like all things, the devil’s in the details.

  • Are the few letters he selected characteristic of the entire font, and of the document (they are, generally)?
  • Are the enlarged letters just scaled versions of the smaller ones (generally not – fonts are generally optically scaled, which results in (among other changes) thicker strokes at smaller sizes)? So at normal, usual font sizes, the difference between fonts (and hence the savings) are less. He could fix this by using a copier to enlarge the letters from a smaller sample, but it’s likely not a huge difference.
  • How much does it cost to change all the documents?
  • How much does it change the readability of the documents? If it takes even fractionally longer to read in the new font, the cost savings could be lost.
  • Does the new font need to be licensed, is it available everywhere, etc?
  • Is the new font resident on printers, or does it need to be stored/downloaded? (This is pretty much only an issue for high-end and high-volume printing).

But on the face of it, this seems like one of those little fixes that can give you a big win (like the famous removal of the olive from airline salads), particularly in ink environments. Laser printing might not save as much, because of peculiarities in the way laser imaging works.

Hmm. not famous to me, but sounds intriguing–
Off to Google–

As for the OP, the notion seems reasonable enough from where I sit. An article I read about it pointed out that ink is more expensive fluid ounce for fluid ounce than many perfumes…

Thats what set the kid off. His teacher(?) commented that printer ink was twice as expensive, ounce for ounce than Chanel No. 5.

I prefer a font thats easy on the eyes. I’ll have to print some longer documents in Garamond and see how easy it is to read.

I have MS Word default font set for Georgia. It’s easy to read.

American Airlines in the 80’s supposedly saved tens of thousands of dollars a year by removing the olives from the salads in first class; a move sometimes credited to Bob Crandall (their CEO) and sometimes to the employee suggestion box. “Famous” may not be accurate, but it’s brought up a lot in those sort of “self-help” business books – I read it first in Harvey Makay’s “How to Swim with the Sharks Without Getting Eaten Alive,” along with an employee suggestion to re-use the plastic lids on the coffee pots, which saved some equally impressive amount of money.

If HP ink costs $75 per ounce, we need to find out why, since it’s mostly water. My guess is profit, not costly raw materials.

Random Amazon link for HP ink…

$13.50 for a 1.9 ounce black cartridge.

I don’t know where the article got the $75/ounce comment. I assume it was an off-hand comment repeated enough times and eventually reported without verification.

It doesn’t, but it is pretty expensive measured by ounce. I used to work for them, and it’s a combination of costly materials, the technology of the casing, paying for the printers which are more or less given away, profit, and the extreme amount of chemical research it takes to make them. Ink chemists are among the best paid folks in the printer division, and they’re hard to find.

There are two basic technologies for inkjet printing: thermal and sonic. Sonic uses tiny vibrations in the ink chamber to eject a drop. It has some advantages (most notably that you can use a much larger variety of ink), but it’s harder to control, takes more electronics, is easier to clog, fails faster, and is more expensive to build. But HP uses mainly thermal inkjets, in part because they invented it and so don’t have to pay patent royalties.

Thermal inkjets work by heating a resistor behind the nozzle (hotter than the surface of the sun, briefly). This boils the ink and ejects the drop; the nozzle is basically there to make sure it goes in the right direction. It’s relatively inexpensive (parts wise) to build thermal cartridges, but the big challenge is the ink: it needs to be able to survive being rapidly heated, boiled, and cooled while neither vaporizing entirely or changing color due to burning. On the other end, it needs to be fluid enough to flow from the cartridge storage chamber to the nozzles easily (so that drops aren’t missed), while at the same time not so fluid that it’ll just drip out of the nozzle, even under the normal abuse that print cartridges take. (They’re dropped, handled, and even in the best of cases installed into cheap moving engines that shake them constantly.)

The initial inks were dyes for this reason: they were all liquid, and wouldn’t gum up the works. But they were also pretty water soluble, so the printouts weren’t waterfast. Newer inks are pigment based: they have actual small particles of something in them that provide the color. They’re much more waterproof when printed, but are more prone to the viscosity, burning, etc. problems in the chamber. Getting this right takes a ton of expertise, especially since the drops are getting smaller all the time.

And that’s the last interesting point of all of this: while ink has been getting more expensive (ignoring inflation effects) and cartridge contents have been getting smaller, the actual cost per page of consumables has actually been decreasing over time (again, ignoring inflation) – partly because of manufacturing scales, but mostly because the drops are becoming tinier: small drops allow you to mix colors more precisely, dry faster, save ink, and produce much less “bleed” on the paper – giving you better images, on a wider variety of paper, using less ink. This is really hard to do, chemically, especially with colorfast inks. The mixes may be mostly water (although in actuality the base may be something else, like alcohol), but then, so are you: it’s the non-water stuff (and the knowledge to create it) that you’re really being charged for.

I attended many seminars where we were given pounds of documents in three-inch thick D-ring binders. This surely amounted to tons of paper since these meetings went on all over the state. Invariably, all the pages were printed one side only. When I asked the head guy (Stephen Pruitt, now V.P. of Achieve, Inc.), why they didn’t use both sides of the paper like in a textbook, he replied “it’s not the paper that costs, it’s the toner!” :smack:

I don’t know why he thought the state of Georgia got free paper. Anyway, we always hear about Congress and thousand-page documents. Does anyone know if these documents are one-sided? Add the ink savings to halving the paper cost, and save even more!

None of this should matter, as electronic records should be replacing paper for most uses.

I’ve been hearing that tune sung for 15 years. I use a Kindle and it’s fine for books that I’m reading straight through.

But for something I’m actually using as a reference? Or studying? You just can’t beat paper. Dogear a page that you need to reference. Or just fan through the pages until you find the chapter you need.

Trying searching a reference book with a Kindle. It’s agonizingly clumsy and slow. Kindle supports bookmarks but I find them lacking. I can grab a paper book and it just falls open to my dogeared page. Or I use colored index tabs to quickly identify the section I need. Finding that page with a Kindle might take several key strokes and a minute or two. Even worse, I have to think about using the Kindle. I want my attention entirely focused on what I’m studying. I want to grab a reference book without breaking my concentration. I can’t do that screwing around with a Kindle.

For anything serious, paper copy will be around for many years to come.

A year or so ago the university where I work said that we were encouraged (though not required) to use a particular font – not Garamond, I’m pretty sure it was Century Gothic – to save on ink/toner. I don’t know how many people complied or if anyone has been tracking ink/toner usage since then, though.

I oppose this because Garamond is one of my preferred fonts and I don’t want to find a new one if it goes the way of Comic Sans.

Honestly though, this is good to know.

Supposedly, at least in 2009 it was worth more than oil, or precious, precious blood.

Also, I thought it was ETAOINSHRDLU. Has that changed?

How much government printing uses inkjet? I would have thought all government department printing is done using laser printers.

I wonder how it compares to people just learning to print less stuff in general. My SO says at his office, half the older generation print off every single email, use a highlighter, then type up a response (look down at email, look up at screen, look down at email, look up at screen), and then throw away the printed page. Sometimes they click print to read a small part of a webpage, and print off pages and pages crap.
It drives him nuts and he’s always trying to teach people better habits, but half his time is already taken up with people saying shit like “the mouse is gone - I dunno, it’s just gone”.

I personally completely disagree with aceplace. If I can’t use cmd f keep the document away from me.

Only thing is that I don’t know what we’ll do for loo roll… :wink:

That’s 19ml of ink, not 1.9 ounces. 19ml is a little more than a teaspoonful.

ETA 1.9 ounces is the weight including the cartridge, I think.

Great background with your post, but as to this last part, I also wonder if consumer habits have also changed causing the cost per page to go down. Specifically I’m talking about the consumer use of photo printing. When digital cameras came out everyone and his brother seemed to print the photos, even buying special photo quality paper. Today we are more likely to store the photos for on line, smartphone, and or tablet viewing, and the ones we do print out are outsourced far more often then before. As consumers are doing far less photo printing at home (one of the most ink intensive things you can do with a printer), the cost per page would go down.

Gah. Tablespoon. Sorry. In any case, not nearly 1.9 ounces.