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Statistics on the Benefits of Color

In the past, we sought to identify the opportunities and barriers regarding the expansion of the color CAD printing market in the US. However, there was so little research available on the subject of color CAD printing that the team decided to perform their own architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market study. One significant finding was that 81% of the digital files that general contractors receive from designers are printed in black and white. Therefore, most general contractors can't print their construction plans and documents in color even if they want to.

When asked under what circumstances AEC general contractors would choose to print color construction plans, 68% of general contractors answered "When printing for a project team member that specifically requests color." When we asked what would motivate general contractors to print or purchase more construction plan sets in color, 63% answered "If there was very little price difference between black and white and color."

Benefits of Color Printing

One key takeaway of our color printing research report was this: "All construction project team members believe there is value to using color plan sets, but few are willing to pay the current color price premium." This research finding confirms that construction project team members don't yet recognize the value that printing wide format construction documents in color can bring. However, further research suggests that architectural, engineering and construction firms see a switch to full color construction documents on the horizon.

In a recent market study, InfoTrends asked the following question to respondents: "What are the primary reason technical documents are in printed color?" The majority (57%) of participants answered that users understand information better when it is communicated in color. In another study, InfoTrends collaborated with Cadalyst Magazine to conduct a survey of their US subscribers and asked "How do you expect the use of color in your CAD printing to change over the next 3 years?" Over 40% of users responded that they expect it to grow.

Our team of printing experts has also pinpointed other key color-related statistics:

  • The use of color increases understanding and retention of printed material by an average of 65%
  • Highlighting key information on printed material can reduce search time by as much as 80%
  • Employing color in print reduces errors by up to 80%

After reviewing color prints of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) documents issued on a construction project, one plumbing contractor said, "It would help to get colored bid documents before the job because it would save the takeoff guy hours of time." More efficient estimating means more jobs bid and likely more construction contracts awarded. Reducing errors and omissions means highly accurate estimating. This allows more confident bidding, possibly reducing field contingency allocations, and winning more bids.

Based on these findings, it's clear that mechanical, electrical and plumbing firms need to dig deeper into the specific benefits of wide format color printing in regards to construction projects.

Sources: USA Today, Wharton Business School, Case & Company Management Consultants; "Color for Impact", Jan V. White; The Persuasive Properties of Color, Marketing Communications; CapVentures,; ColorTherapy,

Learn How Color Can Reduce Construction Costs

Resource Center Home Printing Construction Documents in Color

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