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Author Topic: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use  (Read 681 times)

NAwlins_Contrarian

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Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« on: June 08, 2018, 12:50:21 AM »

Most of you probably don't trifle with little printers like the one I have at home, so my experience won't correspond too well to yours, but in case it might be of interest:

I kept detailed notes about the precise areas printed and the ink cartridges used, and I examined the ink remaining at the end, for my Epson R280 printer, for the year from May 31, 2017 through May 30, 2018. This is a six-color (CcMmYK) dye-ink photo inkjet printer. I printed 189 photos with a total area of a little over 74 ft^2, using a little over 146 ml of ink for all purposes, including self-cleaning and ink left in the cartridges when they were replaced, for a total use of 1.97 ml of ink per ft^2 of photo printed. Put another way, that’s an average of 1.09 ml of ink to print an 8×10 inch area.

I also tracked my actual costs of ink purchased during the year. The average (including delivery charges and sales tax) for all ink bought comes to $1.65 per ml. Therefore, my average cost of ink per 8×10 inch area printed was $1.80. This includes ink used in self-cleaning and left in changed-out cartridges.

With Epson Ultra Premium Luster and Premium Matte papers, in my use mix, my average paper cost was about $0.47 per letter-size (8.5×11 inch) sheet. Therefore, my consumables (ink and paper) cost averaged about $2.27 to print an 8×10 inch image on a sheet of letter-size paper. Of course, at the high end I also really liked Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta 310, which runs more like $1.16 per letter-size sheet, so $2.96 for an 8×10 inch print.

For whatever it tells you in part about the printer and in part about the images I printed, given that with 6 ink colors 17% of the total ink consumed would be average, my actual fraction of the ink used for each ink color was cyan 12%, light cyan 24%, magenta 12%, light magenta 25%, yellow 19%, and black 7%.

Methodological issues
● As soon as the printer driver indicated that a cartridge was empty, I changed it. I did not wait until the printer simply stopped printing, as some people do. This is probably overly conservative / protective of the print head. But I accounted for ink use and cost in the way I actually operated.
● My little R280 really did not use that much ink that didn’t go onto the paper. Over the whole year I only had to trigger one self-cleaning (after the printer sat without printing for 55 days). Some ink probably got wasted with each cartridge change. Also, I printed 10 nozzle checks, but those use very little ink. As much as I love the Canon Pro-100 we have at work, it uses a lot more ink on (unavoidable) self-cleanings.
● Ink use depends on whether you’re printing a color or a black and white image. I printed both, but much more color.
● Ink use depends on media settings, and very likely varies among glossy, luster, matte, etc. papers. I used a mix of papers: probably mostly luster and matte, but also, glossy, semi-gloss, and others.
● Although I estimated the ink remaining in the printer by counting the fractions of the ink shown on the driver’s monitor (which displays at 52-pixel precision), which appears to be more an estimate than an accurate measurement, I don’t think this is a significant source of error. Every cartridge was changed multiple times, except for black, where I used just over 1.5 cartridges. As a result, I’d be very surprised if my per-channel ink use estimates were off by more than 10%. Because errors are probably closer to randomly distrusted, I suspect that my total is within 5% of being correct.
● I used a mix of ‘standard’ 78 cartridges (reportedly containing 7 ml of ink each) and ‘extra-large’ 77 cartridges (reportedly containing 11 ml of ink each). Basically, I bought two complete sets of extra-large 77 color cartridges, but I also bought a bunch of standard 78 cartridges to ‘fill in the gaps’ because light magenta and light cyan, and to a lesser extent yellow, got used a lot more than the other colors. The 77 sets do not contain a black cartridge, and 77 black cartridges don’t seem to be readily available.
● Logically one should think that the more ‘light’ inks a printer has, the more ink it will use per area printed. Light inks are basically diluted regular inks, and in their absence the printer would mix smaller amounts of regular inks with more unprinted white space. Therefore, if all else were equal, then I would expect a four-color (CMYK) printer to use less ink per area printed—and, say, an eight-color (CcMmYKGg) printer to use more.
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Farmer

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 01:30:25 AM »

● As soon as the printer driver indicated that a cartridge was empty, I changed it. I did not wait until the printer simply stopped printing, as some people do. This is probably overly conservative / protective of the print head. But I accounted for ink use and cost in the way I actually operated.

You really don't need to do this.  The printer gives you a low warning at around 5% left but you should keep going until it stops - you won't run dry, it's designed to operate this way :-)
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Phil Brown

stockjock

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 04:19:39 AM »

You probably know this, but if ink costs are a concern of yours you might consider picking up a Canon Pixma Pro-100 while the price is still $59 after the $250 rebate which is about 1/2 the cost of the ink alone.  https://www.adorama.com/icapro100.html  This is the lowest price I've seen that printer at in years.  OEM inks for the Pro-100 cost about $1 a ml.  Then, if your print volume justifies it, you could refill your ink cartridges using Precision Color inks.  That will bring your cost per ml down to about $0.07.  The print quality of the two ink sets is quite comparable but the longevity of the PC inks is measured in a few years rather than a few decades for the OEM inks.  Finally, if you don't mind a very glossy surface the Costco Kirkland Glossy Photo Paper can be bought right now at $17 for a 150 8.5x11 sheets.  Print quality with the Pro-100 is exceptional.  Total cost of printing an 8x10 image will drop to $0.20-25.  I have a very specific application that I'm using the Pro-100 for and I've but over 1500 sheets through it in the last 8 weeks with no problems.  I highly recommend it. 
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Dan Berg

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 09:42:02 AM »

You really don't need to do this.  The printer gives you a low warning at around 5% left but you should keep going until it stops - you won't run dry, it's designed to operate this way :-)

$1.65 a ml, you are getting killed. Do not pull those carts when you get a low ink warning, do like Farmer says and wait until the printer stops. You are almost doubling your ink costs.
I reclaim K3 inks from hundreds of larger ink carts and the numbers are staggering how much ink is left in a so called empty cart.(The built in safety margin from Epson)
You are throwing away twice that amount.
I pull anywhere from 20 to 35ml from Epson 350 and 700 ml carts. Most of these carts I get for free.
I also purchase the larger carts from businesses that are changing out printers due to an upgrade or their printer has quit for one reason or another.
The going rate is .05 to .10 per ml well worth all the fooling around time spent filling carts.
My cost per ml average is around .08 per ml. Ink is really a non factor with regards to cost.
My everyday printers even run with current inks. The other 2 K3 printers are used with out of date inks for workshops and testing.
No factors with clogging or any other issues with the out dated ink.
I would chuck that small printer and get at least a P800 where the ink is around .65 a ml. An Epson P6000 24" would be about half that again at around .32 a ml.
As you can see spending full retail for ink in a small printer like you have is just crazy expensive.
Jon Cone (Inkjetmall) in my opinion has one of the best third party inks on the market, equal to OEM.
If you want to stick with that small printer get a ciss system or refillables and you will knock your ink costs down more then 75%.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 09:02:53 AM by Dan Berg »
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mearussi

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2018, 10:33:46 AM »

The high price per mil was why I quit using my 1400 and switched to a used 4800. It cut my ink costs by 4/5s to around 35 cents/mil.
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NAwlins_Contrarian

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 06:56:11 PM »

Thanks all for the suggestions and comments.

To address some of the points you raised:
● I will probably start waiting to change cartridges until the printer absolutely stops. I have often heard that with Epsons this is okay. Am I correct that the Epson head technology means that there really is no risk of damaging the head, and it is really the alternative (thermal) technology that Canon and HP use that means that it is only for Canon and HP printers you risk damage by running the ink totally out?
● The biggest reason why I use the R280 at home is that it is small and light, and usually I even put it away when it's not in use. If space (and/or my wife's ideas about the reasonable use of space) were not an issue, I would probably get a Pro-10 (because I'd like the better performance on matte papers) or at least a Pro-100 (which is both a great printer and, in the U.S., an amazing value). But the Pro-10 and Pro-100 are 2.4x the volume of the R280, and weigh several times as much. Also, the R280 is quite happy being unplugged and put away; if I did that with a Pro-10 or Pro-100, I'd trigger the heaviest self-cleaning before each use. Also, the Pro-10 / Pro-100 self-cleanings would undercut the advantages of the 14 / 13 ml cartridges, versus the 11 or 7 ml cartridges for the R280.
● Our actual prices paid at work for fresh Canon ink for our Pro-100 have averaged $1.05 / ml. That may seem a lot cheaper than $1.65 / ml for the R280, but I'm sure the Pro-100 has used a lot more ink on self-cleanings, so I suspect that the actual ink cost per area printed is not as dramatically different. However, I cannot give a decent figure because I have no way to track the actual area printed at work--the best I can give is a page-count, and the use is definitely mixed-use, not near-full-page photo printing.
● I am really not at all interested in refilling for several reasons. (Well, if space were a total non-issue, I'd probably refill to run a second printer printing carbon inks for B&W, and then I'd probably have to refill.) Same goes for scrounging out-of-date inks. If I printed more it might make more sense, but for my quite modest volumes, the cost-benefit is just not there for me, IMO. (Mike, as I recall you run a 9600 and a 7800 or 7880? I can imagine the reaction I'd get if I brought one of those home. So I'm jealous of you.) YMMV!

Thanks all!
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mearussi

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2018, 07:30:20 PM »

Thanks all for the suggestions and comments.

To address some of the points you raised:
● I will probably start waiting to change cartridges until the printer absolutely stops. I have often heard that with Epsons this is okay. Am I correct that the Epson head technology means that there really is no risk of damaging the head, and it is really the alternative (thermal) technology that Canon and HP use that means that it is only for Canon and HP printers you risk damage by running the ink totally out?
● The biggest reason why I use the R280 at home is that it is small and light, and usually I even put it away when it's not in use. If space (and/or my wife's ideas about the reasonable use of space) were not an issue, I would probably get a Pro-10 (because I'd like the better performance on matte papers) or at least a Pro-100 (which is both a great printer and, in the U.S., an amazing value). But the Pro-10 and Pro-100 are 2.4x the volume of the R280, and weigh several times as much. Also, the R280 is quite happy being unplugged and put away; if I did that with a Pro-10 or Pro-100, I'd trigger the heaviest self-cleaning before each use. Also, the Pro-10 / Pro-100 self-cleanings would undercut the advantages of the 14 / 13 ml cartridges, versus the 11 or 7 ml cartridges for the R280.
● Our actual prices paid at work for fresh Canon ink for our Pro-100 have averaged $1.05 / ml. That may seem a lot cheaper than $1.65 / ml for the R280, but I'm sure the Pro-100 has used a lot more ink on self-cleanings, so I suspect that the actual ink cost per area printed is not as dramatically different. However, I cannot give a decent figure because I have no way to track the actual area printed at work--the best I can give is a page-count, and the use is definitely mixed-use, not near-full-page photo printing.
● I am really not at all interested in refilling for several reasons. (Well, if space were a total non-issue, I'd probably refill to run a second printer printing carbon inks for B&W, and then I'd probably have to refill.) Same goes for scrounging out-of-date inks. If I printed more it might make more sense, but for my quite modest volumes, the cost-benefit is just not there for me, IMO. (Mike, as I recall you run a 9600 and a 7800 or 7880? I can imagine the reaction I'd get if I brought one of those home. So I'm jealous of you.) YMMV!

Thanks all!
The 4800 is a lot smaller.
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Farmer

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2018, 07:59:49 PM »

Thanks all for the suggestions and comments.

To address some of the points you raised:
● I will probably start waiting to change cartridges until the printer absolutely stops. I have often heard that with Epsons this is okay. Am I correct that the Epson head technology means that there really is no risk of damaging the head, and it is really the alternative (thermal) technology that Canon and HP use that means that it is only for Canon and HP printers you risk damage by running the ink totally out?

No modern printer will let you actually run dry - they're all safe to use until they tell you to stop.  There is always a small reserve by design.
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Phil Brown

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2018, 10:38:31 PM »

Even back in my Epson 2200 days I once ran out of ink in the middle of a print late on a Friday of a holiday weekend, when no camera store would be open until Tuesday. Once I put in a new cartridge on Tuesday, the print finished, and I could not see any visible sign of where the cartridge was changed.

Several times on my 3800 and a few times on my P800 the printer has stopped in mid print, and I've never been able to see where the change took place.
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Ferp

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Re: Actual data on ink use over one year, with printing use
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2018, 07:34:21 PM »

Even back in my Epson 2200 days I once ran out of ink in the middle of a print late on a Friday of a holiday weekend, when no camera store would be open until Tuesday. Once I put in a new cartridge on Tuesday, the print finished, and I could not see any visible sign of where the cartridge was changed.

Several times on my 3800 and a few times on my P800 the printer has stopped in mid print, and I've never been able to see where the change took place.

The 3800 and P800 are different beasts to the 2200.  They run a pressurized system with ink lines and dampers, and there's supposed to be around 15ml in each ink line.  The 2200 is (or was) a printer with the cartridges on the print head, and there's not much of a gap between the cart and the head.  I seem to recall that people claim they could sometimes see the changeover on a 2200 if it happened during printing a smooth-toned area like the sky.  Never heard of or experienced such issues in relation either the 3880 or P800. 

In relation, to the OP's R280, it would probably be more economical to wait until the printer insists, and to reprint the occasional image if there's a problem (which I agree is unlikely) than to always change early.  Unless you're printing large, I think you'll find that the R280 will generally finish one print and refuse to start  the next.  Stopping for a cartridge change during small prints is rare.  I think this is because there's level very close to what the printer regards as empty, and if you hit this point during printing it will keep going until it's actually hit the empty point (so-called, as there's still a small reserve), but were you to attempt to start a print below this level, it will refuse.
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