Can Your Design Choices Affect Cost?

March 31, 2014

News recently came out that a 15 year-old proposed how a simple font change could save the US Government $370 million a year. We even highlighted this in a posting on the Graphics Unleashed Facebook page (shown below)

Ink UsageIt all started out when the student wrote a paper on how his school could save money by changing fonts. In short, the most common font used is Times New Roman and it uses more ink than a font like Garamond because the characters are just a bit bolder. I’ve included a sample at right where Times New Roman is used on the top line and Garamond on the bottom line so you can see the difference. Multiply that ink usage by a massive amount of printing and you save barrels of ink.

While that is true on a printing press, it isn’t always a factor on a digital press. Often there is a “click charge” based on the number of pieces of paper that go through the device. If you want to save money, you’ll print two sheets of letter size paper as tabloid and cut them after printing. Since only one “page” was printed, it cuts the cost in half. Rarely are there charges based on the amount of toner used.

I’ve also had experience with the cost of ink while working with the Brother GT-3 digital garment printers at trade shows this year. One of the great features of the printer is that it shows the exact number of cc of ink used when printing a specific design. This allows users to know the exact cost of the ink used in a given design before they print a single shirt (or hat or coaster or other stuff). In fact you can change settings in the printer driver that will also change the amount of ink used.

As designers, we can make changes to our designs to keep the costs under control. As the teenager pointed out, those changes can be as simple as using a different default font. For some designs, this isn’t a problem at all. In other situations, the font is an important part of the message you are delivering and it may be worth some extra ink to get the message just right. Have you ever made changes to your designs to save money? If so, post a comment and share the changes with us.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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