In a recent article by Jon Canfield in Digital Photo Pro called “The True Cost of Big Prints“, Canfield sets the entry cost of an Epson 9900 with 700ml ink tanks and a roll each of Epson Exhibition Fiber and Epson Velvet Fine Art at $10,175.00. And that is an enormous entry cost. It’s about the cost of a new Harley Davidson motorcycle or a three week luxury trip for two to Venice.
By comparison, the same printer outfitted with 700ml of ConeColor PRO ink and a roll each of JonCone Studio Type 5 (non-OBA Baryta) and JonCone Studio Type 2 (non-OBA fine art) is only $7,645. Just initially, we can reduce the entry cost of owning an Epson 9900 system by more than $2,500. Think about what $2,500 can buy.
Canfield very thoughtfully figures out the cost per ml of Epson ink and the amount of prints required to break even based on outsourcing the prints to a well known service bureau. When you figure in the cost of Epson inks, it becomes quite expensive and the numbers may surprise you. It is certainly well worth the read. The cost per ml of Epson ink in a 700ml cart is $0.40/ml. In smaller carts, the Epson inks cost $0.60/ml. The cost per ml of ConeColor PRO ink is only $0.13. Canfield figures that the cost of Epson ink to make a single 20×24 print is not lower than $.60. The same print would cost only $.20 to make with ConeColor. You can literally make three ConeColor prints for the price of one Epson print.
It’s not difficult to see that making 100 prints a week in 20×24 size will result in saving $40.00 in ink costs alone. But, for many people, producing 100s of prints a day, the savings can easily approach $200 per week. Some of our professional clients are telling us that ConeColor saves them tens of thousands of dollars. But, most of them came to us because they were concerned about the amount of spent carts that they were throwing away. We see ourselves as a Green Solution. But, many of our customers tell us we are an economical solution.
Recently, we introduced a new professional dye ink product that is especially well suited for glossy short term work such as trade graphics, posters, head shots, etc. It produces significantly better gloss than Epson inks and it’s cost is only $0.04 per ml. Suddenly, a 20×24 print costs only $0.06 in ink costs. While we would not recommend this ink for long term outdoor use, or for where artwork will be exhibited more than 30 years, it is the perfect ink for more chroma, greater gloss and shadow detail. If you currently producing C-Prints as a photo lab, you could substitute InkThrift and produce better glossiness and chroma than if using Epson or the ConeColor pigment inks.
If your business model is producing short term graphics – the cost of entry for an Epson 9900 and 1000ml of InkThrift ink is only $6,728. With the savings of nearly $3,500, you can buy a couple of Epson 4900s which currently have $600 rebates and really set up your business or take a short vacation or buy a used motorcycle. The smart thing of course is to keep the savings invested it in your business.