09 April 2010

[type] Saving Ink When You Print Ad Absurdum

Ink. Damn, but it's expensive. When you got your inkjet printer you thought Hey, Groovy, they're giving away these printers for a steal these days. And then you saw the inkjet cartridge prices and knew that you were being played.

What to do, what to do? There are a few things actually.

Once you've cut every corner – we have an HP inkjet that takes the 56/57 cartridge pair, which will run you $50 for a replacement – you're forced to turn to the one last thing you can control – the rate of ink usage. Surprisingly, some technical solutions have been implemented.

Ecofont (http://ecofont.com) takes it right out of the middle. That is to say, it reduces ink usage by literally "punching holes" in the letterforms that are big enough to reduce your ink usage by about 15-20% overall but still leave enough of a letterform to be readable. A sample document is available via the Ecofont link above. Here's a closeup of some of it:

The document is still readable though a little light. Ecofont offers one free font download and a handful of other fonts for prices.

The absurd extreme of this, beyond the limits of parsimony, is represented by the AP article published at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100406/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_money_saving_fonts, suggests changing the font to one that uses less per glyph and therefore less overall.

This looks good on paper, but seems a little kooky when you consider that the individual user is only saving about $20 on the year and, since (the example given) Century Gothic takes up more space than Arial, you're actually using more paper. So you got six of one, half-dozen of the other – or, more appropriately, a few molecules saved there costing you a few molecules there.

Now, this is not to say that it's not completely without merit. The example given posits an educations instituion that spends over $150,000/year on printer cartridges and toner. So, for a economy of this scale, it might make a few thousands of dollars difference.

But for the individual user? Best practices might more effectively include:
  • Using both sides of paper
  • Test-printing on already-used paper
  • Only printing when absolutely necessary
  • Printing out to a PDF before printing to see how they look in Adobe Reader
One thing that I did agree with was the observation that what they were after was to move the point where you press the print button to a more conservative place.

But if you're the individual user, it might not be so effective to use Century Gothic vs. Arial when compared to using a judicious attitude toward printing in general.

(h/t Twitterer Ugly Mug Advertising for the pointer to the AP article)

1 comment:

color said...

Ecofont is now available as software. It prints your normal fonts (eg Arial) with little holes. You don't need to change your fonts so it is easy to implement. I wonder what HP (and all the others) think of this.

Ink is still a rippoff