How to use sensor to measure amount of ink used for each print job?

Problem:

I have done a bit of research and noticed a lack of this feature in the official software by the major inkjet printer manufacturers to measure and record the amount of ink used in each print job.

This is useful for home users and critical for commercial users to find out the true cost for each print job.

I found one by Epson(official software).

However, it is closed proprietary software and device dependent, Ie, only meant for Epson printer.

For printer companies are widely known for their excessive ink profiteering, it is very hard to imagine that they would open their platform(API) for third-party developers.

In the spirit of the maker movement, I would like to gather more information around this area and hopefully hack out a solution for any chosen printer.

Ideal Solution:

1) Before Printing: To anticipate the amount of ink to be used for the print job.

2) After Printing: To record the actual ink used for the print job.

3) The amount of ink used/to-be-used to be listed by their colors(refer to screenshot in the review link).

Implementation Options:

This method mainly revolves around messing with the software(driver). It also takes a lot of time in codes digging and writing the hack. But to do it at the driver level, it could potentially accomplish all #1, #2 and #3. However, this method may not be even possible as drivers for non-Epson printers may not be addressing ink usage at the get-go.

b) Adopt an ink tank system and attach a "valve meter" on the tube connected to each ink cartridge.

This method is more of a hardware/electronics implementation. It may involve a microcontroller/sensors at the "valve meter" level to monitor ink flow and record ink drawn from the tank. Data will be saved, manipulated and displayed on an external dashboard in whatever way we want it. It seems like a neater solution in theory. However, it wouldn't be able to accomplish #1 (which is not a bad trade-off). But this creates a one-off solution that is device independent, Ie, virtually works on any printer with ink tank system. Huge plus!

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If you have any suggestions and/or know-how, I would be delighted to hear from you and love to see this project through.

• If you have an image that needs to be printed surely some software that can process the image could tell you the various measures of colours the job needs. If the printer used this as the basis for charging you that would make sense. Measuring how much ink was put on the paper appeals to nobody except the printing company in order to ensure their process is efficient. – Andy aka Jun 12 '19 at 9:03

• @MichaelKaras I am not intending to make this as a one-size-fit-all product for sale. I look at it as more of an open source "hack" on current printers to unlock the ink measure feature. If it is made possible and adopted commercially, one of the applications that we may start seeing is forward thinking companies to charge their customers by true ink used instead of aggregated cost for each print job. Ie. "Hey customer, your concert poster is $2.13 based on actual ink used", instead of, "Hey customer, it costs$5 as there are 3 colours within a A3 space regardless of total ink used". – Jack Oat Jun 12 '19 at 6:52