April 14, 2014

Teen Discovers Changing Typefaces Would Save $400 Million in Printer Toner and Ink –

Filed under: Printing News,Typeface and Type Design,Typography — Janelle Sullivan @ 7:38 pm

By Janelle Sullivan


I love to save money — don’t you? With the economy being what it is, I find myself using more coupons and paying more attention to what is on sale. I think many people find themselves in that same situation. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to save money with little effort involved? And if those savings could translate to money saved by businesses everywhere and even the government? Well, a middle-school student by the name of Suvir Mirchandani has found a way for that to happen.

Who Is He?

Suvir Mirchandani is a middle-school student at Dorseyville Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The 14-year-old sixth-grader is interested in applying computer science to promote environmental sustainability. While this might seem like a lofty idea for such a young student, Suvir was up to the challenge. The increased number of handouts he was receiving in class prompted this incredible science fair project. Suvir was aware, as most of us are, of the importance of recycling. Most schools and government agencies do use paper made of recycled products, so he turned his attention to printer ink and toner cartridges.

Times New Roman vs. Garamond

For many of us, Times New Roman is the default setting in our word processing software. For me, it isn’t because I like it better — it is more that I am used to using it. It is clear and easy to read, and when I was in school, it was the required typeface in many of my classes. Old habits die hard. But Suvir Mirchandani may have just changed my mind. His study looked at the price of ink and found that the price of your average printer ink cartridge was double the cost of an ounce of Chanel No. 5, and it doesn’t smell nearly as nice! Using the APFill Ink Coverage Calculator, Suvir measured the amount of ink used to print the most commonly used letters of the alphabet. His findings were reinforced by printing and carefully weighing each letter. The findings were amazing: Using Garamond as your default typeface setting can reduce your ink consumption by 24%.

What Are the Savings?

Savings of 24% sound pretty good to me. I am always appalled at the cost of ink and toner cartridges when it is time to replace them, but I don’t think much about it when I am printing. That is about to change. Suvir calculated that his school district could save up to $21,000 a year by making this very small change. The Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI) was interested in the study and challenged Mirchandani to go further with his calculations and determine the savings if the federal government changed their default typeface. The results were astonishing! The General Services Administration estimates that the government’s annual cost for ink is approximately $467 million. If his calculations are correct, and they seem right on target, the U.S. government could save $136 million per year. If state governments hop on board, the savings would jump an additional $234 million. What’s not to love!
I will have to admit that this is not the science fair project of my youth. I know my homemade volcano rocked the house, but it didn’t save anyone any money. Kudos to this extremely intelligent young man for his effort, which in the long run can save all of us some of our hard-earned money. Will you be changing the settings on your computer? I know I will, and then I will bake some cupcakes to celebrate the money I am saving.


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