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Author Topic: Print Economics  (Read 4428 times)
LaroyGreen
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« on: June 30, 2012, 07:57:16 AM »
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Good day,

I've decided to get a printer, but it is proving to be a tough decision. I have access to a good print shop, but it isn't convenient to get prints done, and as such, I haven't been printing as much as I would like.

My current choices are Epson r3000, Epson 3880 (expensive!), Epson 4900 (very expensive! But if the ink economy works out for how much I print, then it would be a worthwhile investment - shipping is a factor as well, and it would probably take me 3 months before the printer physically got to me), Canon Pixima Pro-1, any other recommendation.

Facts
  • The maximum paper size I would want to use is 17x22, however, 13x19 would be much more typical for me. Larger prints can be done at the lab.
  • I currently make a few prints per year, but I want to make around 10-15 prints every month on average.
  • I don't sell prints
  • A month or two may pass by without me printing anything (I mainly shoot film, develop and scan myself, so it takes a while before I am ready to print).
  • I will have to own the printer until it breaks, as selling it used isn't really an option here due to market size.

My primary aim is to make sure I don't buy a printer with huge ink stores if I don't need it, or buy a printer with too small ink stores and have to be buying ink every 2 months. Also, I pay 35% in import duties and about 100USD in shipping, so a $1000.00 printer would cost me around $1450.00. Ink also attracts 35% duties, but the shipping would be negligible.

Thanks for the help, and feel free to ask for any further details.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 08:18:22 AM »
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You can work much of this out for yourself once you know the ink consumption per square inch of printing (prices and cartridge content amounts are known from specs on the internet), and that varies from printer to printer. Only people who have actually measured it for each of the printers of interest would know the correct values. Larger prints with larger cartridges have higher machine cost and lower per ml ink cost. For any two printers being compared, you need to compare the difference in printer cost (net of supplied ink) versus the difference of ink cost per print and calculate the break-even amount of printing you would need to achieve for overcoming the price difference between the machines. Short of being able to do all this, some general guidance usually suffices: for printing such small amounts per month, the r3000 would very likely be the most appropriate choice amongst the Epson quality photographic printers.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
henk
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 02:15:11 PM »
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Perhaps This Will help.

http://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/index.html

Henk
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LaroyGreen
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 03:22:29 PM »
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So, that was kinda of what I was looking for, as I didn't know if 10-15 prints a month where considered to be a small amount (seemed like a lot to me!). I don't mind being able to print around 100 11x14 (on 13x19 paper) colour images before completely buying a new set of inks (I hope that sounds realistic??), so I guess the R3000 is the best option as you recommended.

Thanks very much! BTW I was trying to do the math myself, but I gave up after reading thisGrin

@henk: Thanks for the link!
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alain
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2012, 04:24:10 PM »
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So, that was kinda of what I was looking for, as I didn't know if 10-15 prints a month where considered to be a small amount (seemed like a lot to me!). I don't mind being able to print around 100 11x14 (on 13x19 paper) colour images before completely buying a new set of inks (I hope that sounds realistic??), so I guess the R3000 is the best option as you recommended.

Thanks very much! BTW I was trying to do the math myself, but I gave up after reading thisGrin

@henk: Thanks for the link!

Hi a R3000 can't print 17 by 22.  A 3880 can and the ink is cheaper per ml.  Also calculate the cost with the deliverd ink, the 3880 does contain more ink on delivery (about two thirds of the cartridges is usable after startup).

You're volume will be enough for the 3880 if you're prints are not tiny. 
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LaroyGreen
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2012, 05:01:32 PM »
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I would only want to print 17x22 occasionally, and in those cases, I have no problem having the print shop do it.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2012, 05:36:12 PM »
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I've also provided detailed methodology for comparing machine versus ink costs from two models here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/4800%20tracking.shtml. Unfortunately it does require doing some calculations to assess the answer to this question.

OK the OP is looking for answers - let's make a few simplifying assumptions and go to it: (a) we'll assume both printers (R3000 and 3880) use the same amount of ink per sq. in. of printing; (b) let's pitch that at .011 ML (rough average based on previous observations of other Epson professional models); (c) the charge-up ink in the lines does get used for prints but a certain amount of charge-up ink also goes into the maintenance tank - we don't know how much so let's ignore it, and (d) let's use B&H pricing as the reference (the OP will have to gross-up these values for the shipping and duties he needs to pay to get the machine to wherever he lives and take account of any relative differences between ink and machine once he's done the adjustments). Once we're prepared to live with these assumptions for a rough guide, let's see what we get:(all values exclude taxes)

3880: Machine USD 1140 after rebates. It comes with USD 540 worth of ink, so the net value of the machine itself is USD 600.
R3000: Machine is USD 600 after rebate and it comes with USD 275 of ink so net machine cost is USD 325.
Difference of machine cost is USD 275.

Ink for the 3880 costs 75 cents per ml.
Ink for the R3000 costs 1.23 dollars per ml.
Difference of ink cost is 48 cents per ml.

The amount of ink you need to consume before matching the machine cost saving on the R3000 with the saving on ink in the 3800 is USD 275/0.48 = 572 ml.
This amounts to 52,000 square inches of printing (572/.011).
If we use an 11*17 inch printed surface on a 13*19 inch sheet, that's 187 sq.in. of ink coverage per print.
52,000 sq. in. / 187 sq. in per print = 278 prints.

So if you print 10 per month, within roughly 28 months of printing you'd get your money back buying the 3880 rather than the R3000.

This is just an illustration of the logic process using believable values that are valid in New York City. It is not a hard and fast evaluation totally relevant to your situation. You need to make adjustments of values for your situation. But using this logic process you can answer the question for yourself using numbers that relate to your delivered costs. Looking at the matter strictly from a cost perspective it boils down to how many prints are needed before the saving in ink outweighs the saving on the machines and how much time you want to wait for break-even.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
LaroyGreen
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2012, 06:48:04 PM »
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Wow ... Thanks for taking the time to do that!

The R3000 is looking much better, given your 28 month estimation, that seems long enough for me to justify not moving up to the 3880.

Thanks again!
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k bennett
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2012, 07:27:30 PM »
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When I purchased my Epson 3800 several years ago, I went through the same process. I was absolutely certain that I would rarely print anything larger than 11x14, and mostly 8x10 or smaller. I bought the 3800 based on the ink costs per ml, not print size. I don't sell prints, either.

As soon as I had printed a few 16x24 inch prints, I immediately wished for a 24 inch printer.... Well, that's not going to happen any time soon. But I'm thrilled to be able to go downstairs and knock out a 16x20 inch print with a few minutes work. I suspect that once you've seen how much control you have over the final product, and the time it takes, you'll be less interested in sending out your larger prints.

Now I have a printed portfolio in 11x17 landscape format, which means I'm constantly printing new work. The difference in ink costs makes it more likely for me to experiment, reprint, etc, without worrying about it.
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chez
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2012, 07:33:15 PM »
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The one consideration I have heard mention is the quality of the prints. Does this
Not matter? Are we just after the cheapest? I'd look quality first, cost second
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2012, 07:59:40 PM »
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Wow ... Thanks for taking the time to do that!

The R3000 is looking much better, given your 28 month estimation, that seems long enough for me to justify not moving up to the 3880.

Thanks again!
You are welcome; however, as I mentioned, you should re-verify this arithmetic based on the specific relative costs that will be facing you.

On the quality factor that "chez raises - sure - quality is hugely important. I've seen printed sample from the R3000 and they look fine to me. It's an Epson Ultrachrome K3 with Vivid Magenta inkset, each machine is put through colorimetric calibration as they do for the more expensive models and up to date screening technology. That is confirmed in this review from a very reliable practitioner who knows his stuff: http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/reviews/printer/epson_r3000.html. At the end of the article, regarding costs, he comes largely to the same conclusion I do: the financial choice depends on volume. Beyond a certain volume, the preference goes to the 3880. Below a certain volume it goes to the R3000. Most people don't chose printers on this basis - they look for other features, such as whether they want to use roll paper (R300 you can, 3880 you can't), evidence of performance differences, convenience of use etc. I wouldn't worry about quality in this decision - both produce fine prints. The main thing you may want to consider is that given how good they are, you may find yourself printing more than you expect and in the case the 3880 may have been the better choice. If the choice you are making depends mainly on the financial factor, be quite certain about your volume expectations before purchasing.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Ray R
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2012, 04:29:36 PM »
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As K Bennett said, when you get the printer you may find yourself wishing you could print bigger, but you will probably also find that you might want to print more.

In the UK i found a 4900 for around 1300. I was looking for a replacement for a 3800. Having had it for some years, I had become frustrated at having to cut roll paper to 90cm for panoramic prints, and then getting them to feed into the printer.

I wouldn't say that I print a lot, but the convenience was worth it.

Ray
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philbaum
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2012, 04:43:48 PM »
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I've considered this same issue.  my volume is low, i sell a few prints, about 20 this year, but most have been small, e.g. 8" smallest dimension.  I mostly do canvas, requiring a 2" border, which makes the R3000 the smallest i should buy.

I don't sell that many larger canvas prints that i can readily send them out for printing.  i think  Smiley

One of the things i like about the r3000 is that it will take roll media and also it has a reliable side guide for feeding material, i've seen a lot of comments, at least some that complain about the difficulty of feeding media in straight on the r3880.  no personal experience on this so ican only go by what ii read.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2012, 04:51:05 PM »
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If one prints only 10 per month, isn't Epson going to clog? Wouldn't Canon be a better solution then? Or my information is obsolete?
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Slobodan

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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2012, 04:56:54 PM »
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For low volume printing and without the need for a roll holder the 3880 would be the preferred choice and its performance in respect of clogging is generally considered to be excellent. I had a 3800 (same basic machine) before I bought my 4900 and it was extremely reliable. Don't believe Canon's don't clog. They do, but they handle it differently. For example the IPF 5000 "worked-around" clogged nozzles till there were no spare ones to "workaround", then you change the print head, and it costs - a lot. How long it takes, how many sq.ft. before it happens, I have no idea. They're just different systems for handling the same basic problem. The key thing is to right-size the printer purchase for the volume and frequency of usage.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2012, 05:29:35 PM »
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If one prints only 10 per month, isn't Epson going to clog?
Not with the 38xx series printers. Clog free in my experience and I can't remember reading a report of a clog caused by non-use on this family of printers either.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2012, 07:27:16 PM »
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If one prints only 10 per month, isn't Epson going to clog? Wouldn't Canon be a better solution then? Or my information is obsolete?
Which canon?  Not sure they have a small footprint machine that competes on quality with the 3880, which has very little clogging problems.  too bad epson can't find a way to make their larger printers as good on clogging as the 3880 ...
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jpegman
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« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2012, 08:05:26 PM »
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There is one other somewhat subtle but significant, economic decision that comes into small carts vs large cart printers - cleaning cycles when changing a cartridge.
 
When one of the "small" carts in the R3000 runs out and is replaced with a fresh cartridge, the printer goes through a cleaning cycle where ALL 8 ink cartridges are cleaned - "wasting" all 8 colors. The same happens in the 3880, but, because the carts are 3+ x larger (25ml vs 80ml), the cycle is 1/3rd as often.

With my "tiny" (11ml) R2880 cartridges, (which has never clogged even after months of sitting) I decided to go to a refillable system of carts, where when one cart runs out, I replace all the carts with a spare set of full carts of Cone K3 Vivid inks, and then manually top off the removed set to be ready for the next "full" cart to run out and replace all again. It was to frustrating to watch all 8 carts ink levels drop when only one cart is replaced!

This makes the Cone ink (which is already about 1/3 the cost of Epson's OEM ink), even cheaper since the cleaning wastage is also at the absolute minimal.
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alain
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2012, 04:32:18 PM »
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There is one other somewhat subtle but significant, economic decision that comes into small carts vs large cart printers - cleaning cycles when changing a cartridge.
 
When one of the "small" carts in the R3000 runs out and is replaced with a fresh cartridge, the printer goes through a cleaning cycle where ALL 8 ink cartridges are cleaned - "wasting" all 8 colors. The same happens in the 3880, but, because the carts are 3+ x larger (25ml vs 80ml), the cycle is 1/3rd as often.
...

My 3800 doesn't do a cleaning cycle when changing a cartridge.  I can even easy change an empty cartridge mid print, without a visible trace.
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jpegman
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2012, 04:56:10 PM »
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My 3800 doesn't do a cleaning cycle when changing a cartridge.  I can even easy change an empty cartridge mid print, without a visible trace.

I "assumed" that to be true since it is true for the R2880 and R3000 (From Bob Petuska on DPreview) - sorry about the miss-information!  Same with my 2880, changing a cart mid-print is totally invisible.

Jpegman
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