Calculating Ink costs

November 22, 2011 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

How do you calculate ink costs?  Here is our Northeast Regional Sales Director, John Levocz with more details:

With the ever rising costs of materials used in screen printing like cotton, screen chemicals and ink, it is important to know what the actual costs per garment are.  For this exercise we will just focus on ink.

The important number is not the price per gallon of the ink you are using; it is the cost of the ink per print.  Since you charge per garment you need to know what the cost is of the ink on each garment.  There are many variables that will either have you use more or less ink, but we will focus on just the ink first.

As an example we will use the following values:

            Ink Cost = $60.00 per gallon

            Ink Weight = 12 pounds per gallon

Using these numbers, 1 pound = 453.6 grams, so 12 pounds = 5443 grams

Weigh an unprinted shirt and then print a design and reweigh the shirt. The difference in weight can be attributed to the weight of the ink.

As an example we will use the number of 3 grams of ink per print.  Divide the 3 grams into the 5443 grams that the gallon of ink weighs and that will tell you how many prints per gallon you will get.  Again, using our example (5443 g/gallon ÷ 3 g/print), we will get 1814 prints per gallon.  

At $60.00 per gallon, each print has $0.033 of ink printed on it ($60/gallon ÷ 1814 prints/gallon).  As you can see, the ink costs are not the highest costs in your operation.  If you had a price increase of 10% on your ink, your cost per print would only go up to $0.036 per print.

Ink usage can also be affected by mesh selection:  A 110 mesh will lay down more ink than a 156 mesh count.  Check with your mesh supplier to see if they can supply you with a chart that will show the inks lay down with different mesh counts and thread diameters.

Your emulsion thickness will also affect your ink lay down.  Use the proper type of scoop coater as well as coating technique for the type of printing you will be doing.  Another tip:  You can also change your squeegee and flood angles and printing speed to get the best quality print while using the least amount of ink.

Remember it is not just the cost per gallon. There are many variables that can help you keep your ink costs under control.

For more general ink cost estimating (the weighing method is the most accurate way), International Coatings’ Color Formulation Tool ( also allows you to calculate the price.  Simply create a log-in, then input your ink costs, mesh count, and approximate size of the printed design.  The tool will then calculate the approximate cost of ink per print.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers.  For more information on our products, please visit our website at

      International Coatings:     Is Everywhere You Want To Be


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SPSI Tech Seminar Nov. 18, 2011 Happy Thanksgiving!

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