Printing Cost

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    Topic: Printing Cost Read 652 Times
  • Robert Azzi
    Robert Azzi
    Participant
    Posts: 7
    Epson Printers
    on: November 1, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    I am doing a presentation at our local camera club on printing at home and want to provide the members some range of cost for the print, excluding the initial cost of the printer.  I am not an expert, but know enough to help those that haven’t tried printing.   I have created a table of an assortment of Epson, Hahnemuhle, Red River and Canon papers, so that is easy to give a cost per sheet.  I also will show the cost per cartridge, and number of cartridges for the Epson and Canon printers (13″ and 17″).  I am not going to cover the higher capacity Epson 17″ or any of the wider format printers.  I wanted to know if any one has data for a range or rate for ink consumption of any of these printer.  There are dozens of variables, but i thought if there were any studies that have been done, I can use that information to create a broad range of costs for photo and matte ink usage and work that into my deck.  I found one sample on the Red River Paper site which was pretty interesting and a starting point.  I will continue my search, but thought i would post this to seek ideas on how to research or discuss this topic.   I don’t track my costs since i don’t sell my prints.  I would probably be depressed at how much i spent to get the dozen prints i like after shredding the 100 i didn’t like…..

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
    Participant
    Posts: 232
    Re: Printing Cost
    Reply #1 on: November 1, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    I sell few prints, but when I do sell them the price doesn’t depend on the cost of producing them. It’s market-driven. Nonetheless I did develop a thorough, systematic accounting framework for tracking how much my printing costs me. It is an Excel-based accounting model which I built that takes into account the following items:

    (1) Investment cost and unit Depreciation of the printer (non-trivial by the way)

    (2) Paper

    (3) Ink for prints

    (4) Ink for printer maintenance

    (5) Waste ratio (the proportion of ink and paper that gets wasted due to printing errors)

    (6) Print log

    I’ll provide here some brief comments on each segment:

    (1) Investment Cost: This is the cost of the machine itself including sales tax minus the value of supplied ink plus an estimated value of initial ink-fill. The manufacturers do not provide data on ink fill usage so it is an estimate. while you use the ink in the lines at the outset, line fill stays with the printer when you dispose of it, so it is an eventual cost. I base depreciation on the calculated investment cost, an assigned three year amortization period, an interest rate (fixed) based on an average of recent Treasury rates and from these assumptions calculate a monthly capital recovery charge, which when divided by the cumulative average number of prints made per month provides a running depreciation per print for the current period. If the printer lives longer than 36 months, the depreciation calculation is life-extended accordingly with an algorithm that automatically builds in the additional months relative to the additional prints made.

    (2) Paper: It is the cost of paper per sheet including sales tax divided by 1 minus the waste ratio.

    (3) Ink for prints: Three elements are needed for this: the volume of ink used per square inch printed,  the cost of ink per ml including sales tax, and the sum of those two divided by 1 minus the waste ratio. To calculate the volume of ink used per square inch printed I constructed a table containing consumption data from the printer for 30 typical prints and use the average consumption of the 30 print sample.

    (4) Ink for maintenance: The manufacturers hide the volume of ink used for cleaning cycles of all types. I use estimates gleaned from discussion with third-party technicians and keep a log of maintenance sessions, from which I have a rough idea of how much ink gets used on average for maintaining the printer.

    (5) Waste ratio: This is meant to enable recovering the cost of wasted output through sale of non-wasted output. By keeping track of wasted prints along with non-wasted prints, one knows what percentage is wasted. In my case that happens to be about 2%. So 1.0-0.02 is 0.98. Divide the cost of saleable output by 0.98, and it inflates the costs just enough to recover the value of waste.

    (6) The print log: to manage this system one needs to keep a reasonably accurate computable log of prints made in each printing session, and date the printing sessions using Excel-computational format.

    So much for the methodology, now for the results:

    For my Epson SC-P5000 using Ilford Gold Fibre Silk paper and the Epson inkset for this printer, my printing cost of production for a 13×19 inch print having a one inch border on each side is as follows (in Canadian dollars):

    Printer Amortization: 1.43

    Paper: 3.23

    Ink: 1.93

    Waste adjustment 0.16

    TOTAL COST 6.75

    This of course excludes the value of time used to edit the prints for printing and supervising the printing process. That would swamp the above-quoted costs and why one would never relate the selling price of one’s prints to the material printing costs discussed here.

     

    Mark D Segal
    Author: Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, published by LaserSoft Imaging AG
    https://www.silverfast.com/downloads/92ed080ac1ae274ea6aeed756a504f7a/en.html

    Robert Azzi
    Robert Azzi
    Participant
    Posts: 7
    Re: Printing Cost
    Reply #2 on: November 1, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you Mark for the thorough reply.  I completely agree that print pricing has little to do with the cost of production.  My goal is to encourage some of my fellow members to begin printing at home.  I assume that some will know that at home printing is more expensive than using Costco or an online printer.  I wanted to provide some sense of the costs to complete the story.  I hope it does not dissuade them from giving it a try.  Until this year the club only projected images and the annual contest is all based on digital files.  This year we have introduced a monthly contest and peer critiques to motivate more participation and sharing of knowledge.  Both require prints to participate, and in spite of some initial push back, we are getting interest in the new activities.  Thanks again for taking the time to provide a thorough reply and sharing your wealth of knowledge.

    Dan Berg
    Dan Berg
    Participant
    Posts: 1
    Re: Printing Cost
    Reply #3 on: January 22, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    My personal opinion is that cost should be down near the bottom of the list on a printing presentation.

    I had a club presentation some years back. My question started out like how many of you have invested up to but less than $5,000 on camera gear. About a dozen in  the group raised their hands. Then I asked how many of you have invested up to $10,000 on camera gear and a half dozen raised their hands. Lastly I asked how many had invested more than $15,000 and another half dozen raised their hands. Final question was how many of you own a photo printer and print your own images and four people put up a hand, that’s right four. That was all I needed to hear and launched into my spiel about photography being about the print. I am sure if I had not started with the gear investment question more that one would be moaning about the cost of printing. I played it on pretty thick not shaming them but encouraging them. It makes your photography better and once you get that passion you will be rushing back from your photo excursion to try out that new paper or canvas. It is absolutely addicting and once you are hooked you are hooked!

    Dan Berg
    www.bergscanvasgallery.com
    Printmaking Photo Mounting & Framing For The Artisan and Photographic Communities

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Keymaster
    Posts: 554
    Re: Printing Cost
    Reply #4 on: January 22, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Coming in the not so distant future will PXL – Print It.  We will start with getting into making prints and explore an affordable at-home printing set up and some software to help make printing easier.  We will then work our way up to more about printing and eventually in a few months offer printing workshops here in Indiana.  It’s going to be a fun year.

    Kevin Raber
    CEO & Publisher of PhotoPXL.com and Rockhopperworkshops.com

    Mark Farber
    Mark Farber
    Participant
    Posts: 3
    Re: Printing Cost
    Reply #5 on: February 9, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Mark, would you be willing to share your P5000 data on ink consumption per in2, ink for maintenance, and waste ratio?  Do you know the capacity of the main maintenance cartridge?

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