File this under things I did not know: printer ink is is nearly twice as expensive as French perfume. Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum costs $38 per ounce, while the same amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75.
But it wasn’t the cost that inspired 14 year-old Suvir Mirchandani to look for a way to conserve printer ink. In an effort to promote sustainability, Suvir enlarged the most commonly used letters in the most commonly used typefaces (Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans). He then compared the amount of ink used by each.
He came to the conclusion that by using Garamond rather than heavier fonts it could reduce ink consumption by 24%.
He published his findings along with Peter Pinko in the Journal of Emerging Investigators, which you can find here.
That’s not good news for Hewlett-Packard, a struggling company that has been extremely aggressive in protecting its sky-high ink market. They have sued over patent infringement in international trade court (and won) against foreign manufacturers who tried to market cartridges that work in Hewlett-Packard printers — insuring consumers will continue to pay their higher-than-Chanel prices.
Hewlett-Packard has also had to settle with consumers over suits filed in federal court, which alleged their printers would say they were low on ink when they weren’t, and shut down even when there was ink remaining in the cartridges.
Suvir calculated that the US federal government could save $400 million per year on its $1.8 billion printing budget by simply changing the font. With so much money spent on absurdly expensive printer ink each year, it’s somewhat remarkable nobody took the time to figure this out before.
Photo by Randy Heinitz under Creative Commons license