Since acquiring my HP printer over a year ago, I’ve made hundreds of prints and gone through multiple rolls of paper. This gives me a pretty big data set on which to compute my actual printing costs and the numbers work out to approximately $1.76 per square foot. This cost can be broken down into ink, print heads, and paper as follows:
|Ink||$0.83 / sq. ft.|
|Print heads||$0.05 / sq. ft.|
|Paper||$0.88 / sq. ft.|
|Total||$1.76 / sq. ft.|
These numbers are based on the following assumptions
- Ink Usage. I print on the best detail settings and use the gloss enhancer. Averaged over hundreds of square feet of prints, my ink usage comes to 1.65 ml/sq. ft. A $130 ml ink cartridge costs about $65 dollars which works out to $0.83 per square foot.
- Print Head Costs. I haven’t yet had to replace any of my print heads but they are rated to last at least 2500 ml. Each print head costs about $30 or about 5 cents per sq. ft.
- Paper. Paper costs varies by type, but a 24″ wide by 50′ long roll of professional satin costs about $0.88 per square foot. Premium matte is significantly cheaper at $0.30 per sq. ft., but fine art papers like HP’s HahnemÃ¼hle or canvas run nearly $2 per sq. ft.
Note that these numbers don’t include adjustments for
- Extra costs for printing proofs.
- Usage for calibrating the printer and profiling papers.
- Paper wastage from the print size not exactly matching the paper width.
HP’s numbers for printing costs are similar, but not surprisingly come out lower. For satin / semi-gloss paper they report an overall cost that varies from $1.46 to $1.63 per sq. ft.
Printing Costs at Commercial Labs
To put the numbers in perspective here are the costs for using a commercial lab (not including shipping or tax):
- West Coast Imaging: $10.80 / sq. ft.
- MPix: $7.50 / sq. ft.
- White House Custom Color: $7.58 / sq. ft.
- Adorama: $4.20 / sq. ft.
I was so glad to stumble upon your cost breakdown. I’m new to the Z3200 myself and this is a tremendously helpful resource. Thanks for sharing!
I just received my z3200, so I have this necessity to find how much it will cost to print per sf. So is the 1.65 ml per Sq Ft per ink color so it will take an average of 1.65 ml x 12 (cartridges) = 19.8 ml x $0.5 (cost of ink ml) = $9.90, is this correct? or is it that the 1.65 ml is averaged across all cartridges yielding 0.14 ml per sq ft on each cartridge, so 0.137 ml x 12 (cartridges) = 1.65 ml x $0.5 (cost of ink ml) = $0.83 per sq ft, could you please help me?
Very useful information,
I have a question though,
Is it 1.65ml per sq ft per cartridge (1.65ml x 12 cartridges = 19.8ml) or 1.65ml total ink usage (0.137 ml x 12 cartridges = 1.65 ml) per sq ft?
It’s 1.65 ml of ink in total across all of the different cartridges.
Thank you Stephen
Sorry my english not very good.
Do you mean that it is 1.65ml in total or 19.8ml in total?
Jose — across all the cartridges I’ve been using about 1.65 ml in total per square foot.
Hi thanks for posting this!
Im looking into purchasing the z2100, and was trying to figure out the cost for printing before I buy it. I am a college student, so I dont know much about professional printing. I was hoping you could direct me to a good source and type of matte paper. Im going to be printing architectural renderings. I have ordered samples of the HP matte litho-realistic paper and love the quality but no the price. If you could recommend anything for a poor college student that would be greatly appreciated. THANKS!
Would love to see updated costs.