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Thread: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

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    Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    I was just wondering if anyone had made a print cost calculator. I am not really good enough with that sort of thing to make my own, but I would be very interested to hear if someone has done it. Basically I would like something where I could plug in the current ink and paper prices, image area and paper area so that I could get a decent estimate of my print cost. I do a lot of printing work for other people, but it is really hard to nail down exact costs as the currency is all over the place, the prices of the papers and inks swings enormously, and everyone wants different size images that fits on different size papers etc. Every time I want to give someone a price quote I have to sit down for an hour figuring out how much the work is going to cost me! There has to be a better way...
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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Hi Stuart,

    It could be an interesting 'project' if you knew how to use a spread-sheet, say. Anyway, I think if you want an accurate cost, then you need to be prepared to enter more details wrt depreciation/running cost of printer, cost of premises, etc. Anyway, in searching around on the internet I found this, which may do part of what you want - http://homeprintingtips.blogspot.com/

    However, I think, unless you are running a 'copy-shop', the cost of the materials would be a very small proportion of the price the customer ends up paying, and I think I would tend to keep records for a week or two, then use a cost based on surface area of the media plus a fudge factor.

    Best wishes,

    Ray

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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Hi Ray. Thanks for the response. I will definitely check out that link. I am not so much worried about the depreciation on the printer, cost of premises etc...those are numbers which are set and I can deal with. I am interested in finding a way to quickly calculate the ink and paper costs, as they are so variable here. Being a small island country, everything has to be shipped in, and VAT (the highest in the world at 25.5%) is assessed on both the items and the shipping costs. The currency is also very volatile, so this means that materials cost is very high compared to other countries, as well as being all over the place. I certainly do charge significantly more than my materials cost, but unfortunately they ARE a significant cost of doing business here. Unfortunately I cannot just look up the given price at B&H and go from there -- I need to factor in the current paper cost (whether shipped in quickly at high cost, or in bulk at lower cost), ink and so on. Also, it is difficult to figure out how much different to charge for premium papers (Harman Gloss Fb AL) vs. regular ones (Harman CrystalJet Luster etc). I think I just need to make some calculator in Excel. Unfortunately, I don't have Excel...I should find a nice (hopefully free) mac equivalent.
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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Hi Stuart,
    This may be oversimplifying, but try to come up with a base cost per square inch including the most typical paper and ink that you use, then just multiply that by the size of the print and then add your profit margin. I think you'll drive yourself crazy trying to track every detail of paper and ink, with changing prices. Reevaluate the base cost every few months to make sure it hasn't changed that much.

    Ciao,
    Brad

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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Ditto on Brad's sentiment. When I was in NY I remember that the cost to students for making large format prints at ICP was a set price per square inch.

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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Or get a wide format HPZ3200 printer and it will do all of that for you!

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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Thanks guys! I think I will just play around in open office or something and create some simple formulas. I agree that I just want a basic handle on the costs, it is not so much that I need to have every cent of every print calculated.

    Charles -- how does that work? I use an Epson 9900, and it will tell me how much ink and paper was used for each print, but it will not do it before I print! The problem is that I have to make the quotes up ahead of time. They did have software where you could track your printing costs, but they would only allow US based customers to use it. Even though I bought my printer in the states, I could not use the software (I forget the exact reason, but I think it detected that my IP was not in the US).
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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Hi Stuart,

    There were figures calculated by members of the Canon iPF wiki some time ago. I haven't looked at it recently, but there were estimates of cost per square foot (or inch, don't recall). Cleaning cycles need to be considered, and those are frequently documented there too, as firmware updates affect them.

    Then one only needs to add the simple calculations of paper costs.

    One should be able to draw some approximate correlations between the different makers (i.e. Canon vs Epson) by comparing ink costs per ml. Obviously, these will be very rough figures as a result.

    The Canon iPF printer tools gives quite granular data on ink consumption per color, area of coverage, etc. If one is a bit disciplined in noting data prior to a print run and comparing afterwards, one can draw some conclusions regarding averages. Many members of the wiki have been able to calculate rather tight numbers of their costs this way. I don't know how the Epsons represent such information, but the methods would likely be similar.

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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Thanks guys! I think I will just play around in open office or something and create some simple formulas. I agree that I just want a basic handle on the costs, it is not so much that I need to have every cent of every print calculated.

    Charles -- how does that work? I use an Epson 9900, and it will tell me how much ink and paper was used for each print, but it will not do it before I print! The problem is that I have to make the quotes up ahead of time. They did have software where you could track your printing costs, but they would only allow US based customers to use it. Even though I bought my printer in the states, I could not use the software (I forget the exact reason, but I think it detected that my IP was not in the US).
    I guess the HP does it afterward.

    Anyway, as per the other suggestions you really should be charging on a set basis. Find out what the standard for your area is and go from there. But it is nice to know what you are using up.

    Best,

    CP

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    Re: Anyone made a print cost calculator?

    Thanks guys. Yes, I have been trying to charge the standard, but the problem is that this is a VERY small country -- there is one other person doing custom printing work like me, and then the rest is either taken care of by advertising and signage places or sent abroad (or done by the photographers themselves). So comparing prices means finding out what one other person charges. I have been ballparking that and doing fine, I just would like to find out my exact costs. I just wrote something in open office that should help me out. Thank you all for the help though!
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
    My lab is here: http://www.customphotolab.is and on facebook

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