Adobe unveiled its LeanPrint technology today, aiming to cut the cost of printing in homes and businesses. LeanPrint works by optimizing document formatting, colors, and layout, while managing toner output to reduce the overall use of ink during a print job. Adobe's patent-pending software technology is used in a variety of plug-ins for popular desktop apps such as Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. Adobe says it is also working on support for Microsoft Outlook, PowerPoint, and Chrome in the future.

Toshiba has partnered with Adobe to distribute the software to North American customers. LeanPrint use can be visualized over days, months, and years — providing a way for businesses to track their printer usage and savings. While similar solutions exist, Adobe says its Toner Saver option will create less toner-heavy prints, and a Super Saver mode uses fewer pages. Adobe claims this reduces costs by an average of 40 percent for typical office documents.

Printer ink usage has long been a topic of great debate for consumers and businesses. Some manufacturers use refills as a cash cow for their printing divisions, while others have attempted to offer solutions to reduce ink usage. HP's recent first quarter revenue dropped 7 percent in its Imaging and Printing Group, indicating that printers are lasting longer, consumers are going digital, or the increased competition is forcing consumers to look elsewhere for ink-friendly printing. If Adobe's technology is widely adopted and works well on existing devices, then it will create even further problems for printer manufacturers who have typically relied on ink refills as an easy revenue stream.