Controlling Ink Costs

How to Control Your Cost Per Print

You have a job to produce 1,000 one color prints. The print is 12″x12″ with approximately 50% coverage. Using 110 mesh and your favorite $60/gallon ink, your ink cost for this job will be approximately $62.50 or 6.25 cents per print. You go to start the job and realize that you are out of ink. You order a new gallon and you are surprised when you learn that the ink is now up to $66 a 10% increase.

How Can I Make Up for This Increase in Costs?

Let’s take a look at what happens when we control ink deposit by going to a higher mesh count:

123 Mesh: 6.0 Cents per print

  • 156 Mesh: 3.8 Cents per print
  • 195 Mesh: 2.9 Cents per print

Simply by going to 123 Mesh from 110 Mesh you save 27%, more than making up for the increase in ink cost.

As you can see by the examples above, ink deposit can have a much larger effect on your cost per print than the cost of the ink. You would never accept a 27% increase from you ink supplier, but do you put the same thought into how you print the job?


You have an ink at $30/gallon that looks great through 110 mesh, but anything higher and coverage suffers.  Another ink looks great through 195 mesh but it costs $60/gallon.  No way I can pay twice as much for the ink right?     WRONG!

  • $30/gallon through 110 mesh costs 3.13 cents per print
  • $60/gallon through 195mesh costs 2.64 cents per print

Higher mesh count prints will also feel softer and have a better quality appearance.


  1. Select the right mesh:  Higher mesh counts lay less ink and print better detail.
  2. Coat Screens Consistently:  Control your screen coating procedures.  Thicker emulsion will lay down more ink.
  3. Select the right squeegee:   Softer squeegees lay more ink, harder squeegees lay less ink.
  4. Press Setup:  More squeegee angle and pressure lay more ink.

The goal here is to control the variables above to find the right combination that give you the appropriate coverage without wasting ink.  How many times have you looked at a job and decided that 195 is the right mesh for this job, but you go to the screen room and only have 156 screens reclaimed and decided to go ahead with the 156.  That decision increased your ink cost on the job by over 30%.

Download Ink Cost Calculator (EXCEL FILE)