Ecofont Takes The Swiss Cheese Approach to Saving Printer Ink

Ecofont saves ink screenshot image


The jury is out on this one as far as a real savings. But we played around with this intriguing new font to find out if Ecofont's claim of saving as much as 20% on printer ink by adding holes to the letters rings true.

Read on for our thoughts, and see samples of the font in action. Ecofont messed around with different ways of cutting down on a font's size, shape, and even filling, in order to cut down on ink. They came up with a font that can purportedly save 20% on your ink output.

Most appealing ideas are simple: how much of a letter can be removed while maintaining readability? After extensive testing with all kinds of shapes, the best results were achieved using small circles. After lots of late hours (and coffee) this resulted in a font that uses up to 20% less ink.

We debated about the bleed factor, if the printer's resolution would be high enough to make this difference, if the size of the letters themselves (generous for 10 point font) minimized any savings. While we're unsure about how much real savings this font has, we are sure about a couple things:

Matt McDermott tested it out on his laser printer and recycled laser stock. He notes:

It does look fine at 9 or 10 point - the dots aren't visible as the ink bleed on the paper fills them in. At 12 pt it looks a bit thin on the page though you can't see the dots. Above that, the dots are very noticeable.

However, if you backlight the page, even at 10 point the dots are visible. You probably couldn't use it for printing transparancies or other back lit film. Though it could easily be used for regular documents at that size.

ecofont test image

A comparison of Ecofont against Arial, both at 10 point. Courtesy of TreeHugger Lloyd Alter.

As you can see from this sample, it is a bit taller than Arial in the same size. And, it ends up looking like a grayscale print job. In fact, you can probably just set your printer to print grayscale in fast draft mode and get an equal or larger ink savings.

But it could indeed be practical in certain situations.

ecofont printed page 9 and 10 point font image

Super upclose scanned image of 9 and 10 point samples of Ecofont, printed on a laser printer. Courtesy of Ben Boyd in TreeHugger Tech Support.

Ecofont itself notes:

Naturally, the results vary depending on your software and the quality of your screen. The Ecofonts works best for OpenOffice, AppleWorks and MS Office 2007. Printing with a laser printer will give the best printing results.

It's an interesting font-based solution to ink conservation. But ideally, just don't print.

More on Eco-Friendly Printing:
Save Paper, Save Money: 5 Free Software Downloads That Spare Your Printer
Set Your Printer for Green-ficiency
Print Less: Make Just One Copy Do the Job

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