Cost of Ink per job?

Jo Hill

New Member
Ultra noob question: is there a way to calculate how much ink I’m using for a job? Say I print a 4x8 post full color..

I use sign lab. Sign lab came with a VPM: Visual Production Manager. Maybe there is a place I can go in the VPM that will tell me how much ink I used in a certain job?

I’m just trying to get better at figuring out how much a job costs me. Time, ink, vinyl and everything else.
What printer are you using?
It's more accurate to poll the printer than the RIP, but it definitely depends on the equipment. Not all machines will report this info.

Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing
Not exactly what you are asking, but we do this annualized based on the printer and the square feet sold. We track how many sqft we sell off of a specific printer, then how much in ink and consumables we purchased. Divide that out for a pretty accurate overall cost of ink per sqft sold. This will include waste ink - both in the waste ink tank, and on material you threw away.

You may have to make adjustments if how much ink you keep on the shelf isn't fairly steady.

This is how we do it, as it gives us a true cost of ownership and operation. It does take a year of plotting good data though.

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Colour Guru
IMO It depends how your business structure is.

the easiest way is to do it, which was already stated - On your printer it should tell you how much ink you've used & how much Square meters printed. (or what ever units of measure you use) and you can calculate it that way. by dividing ink/SQM

The way we do it, as some types of printing require more ink, and some less.
So we'd make profiles for ever media (as every print shop should)
and we calculate every media ink usage per SQM (most is the same)
Some media or print mode like double strike or colour/white/colour uses more ink so we adjust for that.
Some profiles we have ink saving profiles to cut costs and we'll pass on the savings to our clients.

i use ONYX and have ink calculations on it but you need to set it up according to your printer.


Premium Subscriber
If you go with 25 to 30 cents a square foot for all the prints which turn out good, then add in all the bad prints, wrong prints and ruined prints plus the ones you ruined applying........ you'd come up with an accurate number. If nothing EVER goes wrong, then 25 cents will do just fine.



I have never had that day, in the sign business or anywhere else

2 or 3 years ago, i remember reading a post where gino was saying allow 30% for waste. i scoffed and at that time i thought it was way too high

better to be pleasantly surprised...
Price you prints high enough to where you don't have to worry about ink cost, it is a minor expense compared to everything else at least in my experience.


Head bathroom cleaner.
I agree somewhat with victor above. :goodpost:

I like to know annually what our ink usage was but it isn't a driving factor for budgeting and we use liters of ink a month. We charge a premium for our work. We took the time to evaluate and calculate the cost and profit margins into. We also have enough cushion built in for mistakes. You never realize how many mistakes can happen till you hire employees. :confused: