Sixth Grader Discovers How Government Could Save Millions With Printing Change

printingHow could the government save $400 million each year without having to cut valuable services? According to a recent science fair project by one middle school student, it’s as easy as changing their printing typeface.

Suvir Mirchandani, a sixth-grader attending Dorseyville Middle School, was looking for a science fair project idea, and noticed that he was receiving many more paper handouts than he did in elementary school. Mirchandani devised a way to test whether simply using different typefaces could help his school and other government facilities easily cut down the amount of money they spend on printer ink. Though much attention is given to how reducing the usage of paper can help save money, few have turned their attention to ink.

Mirchandani compared several common letters from four different but popular fonts — Times New Roman, Comic Sans, Century Gothic, and Garamond — and enlarged them and printed them on cardstock, then weighed the difference. This led him to realize that the government could potentially save millions of dollars just by making a small change to the way they print.

Seem incredible? It might make more sense when you keep in mind that printer ink is actually twice as expensive as French perfume by volume, according to CNN. The government typically uses the font Times New Roman, yet a switch to Garamond, a similar font in appearance to the naked eye, can cut down on ink consumption by 24%.

For Mirchandani’s school, this amounts to savings of $21,000 — if both the U.S. Government Printing Office and state governments switched, the savings would be $400 million.

“That is definitely one way to save! There are many other ways that other users can save as well,” explains Chris Kovacs, General Manager of Absolute Toner. “There are adjustments that they can make to their printer settings which could allow them to save on their toner and ink supplies.”

How has the government replied? Although they were interested in the results, they basically said their focus was, instead, concentrated on saving money by publishing online rather than through hard copy format. Mirchandani is persistent, though. “They can’t convert everything to a digital format… some things still have to be printed.” He expresses home that changes will be made, and says he will “be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible.”