I'm new to this world so don't be too harsh. I have been searching for some way to estimate ink usage in order to be able to price simple sign/banners. How do you determine $x/sq ft?
I know this is probably not helpful for your situation but our RIP (Roland Versaworks) estimates the amount of ink. What RIP are you using...perhaps a visit with the manufacturer to see if they have something available.
There is a website here: http://www.printcalc.net/printcalc that has an upload tool for uploading PDF's and getting the ink calculations back. Of course depending on the printer you are using this might be totally off especially if you're using more than 4 process colors and keep in mind that the RIP might use different amounts of GCR/UCR (Gray color removal) depending on media profiles etc so at best it would be a starting point or a baseline to use for calculations. I haven't had the best of luck getting files uploaded and receiving information back from them so it might not work.
The only other software I've seen is APFill which calculates ink usage but it's more of a program geared towards the home/small business user and not a commercial print shop. It might give you a starting point for calculations though which given some time and experience over several cartridges and tracking could get you within spitting distance of actual ink usage prior to printing.
We've done wide format for years and have decided to get away from a "cost-plus" pricing model. Initially we started with calling over 20 different sign/print shops in our region to get retail costs on a standard photo print and sign. Some wanted to see the file but most simply gave us a price per square foot that we used as a starting point. Naturally we wanted to make sure we could make good money so we tracked costs for ink and paper and eventually arrived at a number that we felt was competitive with others in our market. Until we reached that point though we went with a "middle of the road" approach to pricing, we weren't the cheapest by any means but we also weren't the most expensive either. After evaluating costs we decided we could charge more for canvas and fine art print type of jobs but dropped pricing on coroplast signs and banners to keep people printing locally instead of going online. People interested in getting a good product with correct color (e.g. fine art prints) are much more willing to pay more for someone locally that they can see samples, and have a working relationship with vs those who just need a crappy banner or sign made for a tradeshow and don't care if the color is off or the quality is sub-par.
Last edited by jotterpinky; 06-04-2011 at 12:06 PM.
As stated it depends on your UCR/GCR, also how are your rich blacks are made up, some jobs we have done have been solid black over metres of media, very different to text on a white background, say with a few images here and there.
Have you any numbers from the machine manufacturer, although not to be 100% trusted they can give you an average far more accurately as they will have done the 'science' to get those numbers.
I have some numbers from Epson.... through a 3rd party on a 7600 (mine is a 7900). This is InkJetArt.com, don't know how good they are, but their review of the ink usage seems to make sense. I think I'll use their numbers and add a little to them to be safe, until I can get a little history under my belt to make an educated decision (Jotterpinky's approach).
APFill: Unique Utility for Print Shops
Ink usage is usually described by printer manufacturers as so many pages of A4 using 5% coverage. APFill Ink & Toner Coverage Meter software helps you calculate ink coverage (or toner coverage) on the page before printing, expressing it as a percentage, so you can estimate cost of the page.
APFill - Ink Coverage Calculator, How to calculate ink coverage and consumption - AVPSOFT
When I first started, same problem was there with me, the ink uses was a dam tedious job to deal with, sooner with the experience i understood the usage, same applies for you dude, give some time.
We are proud to announce that Printcalc, mentioned above, has now been updated, the processing is much more robust and also now supports EPS and PS in addition to PDF.
We have also updated the support/feedback system and will respond to any queries, your comments welcome.
i always quote based on 30% total coverage, sometimes you win sometimes you lose
If you have Enfocus PitStop for checking and editing PDF files, you can also run a report to get ink usage that you can use for estimating.
Report is per page, per document and in both % and area coverage.
PitStop 12 ink usage report - YouTube
Senior Product Manager
You can run some test prints on your 7900 and see the amount of ink used. In your printers panel there is a menu called "Printer History" (or something similar, I can't recall exactly). The last 10 jobs are stored there and you can see the amount of ink used in ml (not per cartridge, the total) and how much paper was used. If you print this report you can see consumption per cartridge also. This will give you a very good impression (I would say exact view) of how much your prints cost. So, if you calculate your test files ink coverage with the aforementioned tools, you can map this to actual ink used to print.
Hope it helps