View Full Version : First piece of equipment

Andy Wingfield
01-25-2009, 11:32 AM
Decision making process on first piece of equipment to purchase for and Engraving and Awards shop.
I was speaking with a potential customer the other day and he was waffling between a rotary engraver and a laser, being his first piece of equipment to purchase. If you take price out of the equation, and you could do it all over again, what would your first piece of equipment purchased for your business?


Andy Wingfield

Stephen Beckham
01-25-2009, 12:39 PM

I went Laser and Sublimation right off the bat... I got the rotary device with my laser, but I think you are talking about a pantograph machine of some sorts when you mention rotary.

I didn't and still haven't gone back to get one yet. I looked at several from Gravograph larger models down to the Metazza series. Nothing appealed to me as a money maker enough to start the business off of.

I'd stick with my original purchase again, except I'd go sublimation inks/gels instead of laser. I've got $1200 worth of laser toners that I won't use again - okay de-valued probably to a couple hundred, but I still think it's cheaper to replace the ink and I'm getting as good as results in every area except RED colors. Amazingly enough, my magenta toner is the only one that showing low toner too...

So back to your original question - rotary or laser. You'll need to figure out are you doing just trophies and precious metals (need pantograph) or are you planning on plaques and acrylics (either, but laser more versitile)?

Are you interested in wide format fonts? Pantograph does individual lines real close to give you thick fonts - distracts in my opinion.

Are you interested in graphics? Laser has much higher DPI quality than Pantograph - in my opinion.

I'm sure others would go the other way, but I'm running three years now and have only had about a dozen jobs I had to turn away because I don't have a pantograph. I would venture a lot more jobs would have been turned away had I gone only the rotary device up front.

Again - all of that in my opinion...

Good luck with your research!

Scott Shepherd
01-25-2009, 12:43 PM
Awards and trophies only- Laser.

James Stokes
01-25-2009, 2:40 PM
I too would have to go with the laser. I do have an older Xenetech rotary that I have now had for a couple years. It gets very little use.

Larry Bratton
01-25-2009, 4:08 PM
Sold my Vision rotary..laser only now, even for braille on signs (using Aaron's new Corel script for that process). However, I must say, the first piece of equipment I would buy if I had to do it over would be a CNC router. You can make money with a router almost out of the box, I can't say that about the laser. But if your into awards, I would go laser.

Mark Winlund
01-25-2009, 7:17 PM
If you take price out of the equation, and you could do it all over again, what would your first piece of equipment purchased for your business?

Let's see.... unlimited funds? A turn-key shop with every imaginable piece of equipment under the sun?

Seriously, if you have no experience at all, a pantograph doing trinket work is your best bet. Cost is low, immediate income (provided you have a suitable location), and if you don't like it you won't be quite so broke when you quit!

A moderately equipped engraving shop will cost you more than $100K when you factor in supplies, commercial location, and enough capital to make expensive mistakes (which will happen). Not an easy business to succeed in. A lot of fun, though....

Bill Cunningham
01-25-2009, 8:42 PM
When I started, Lasers were rare, and expensive.. I started looking at them when they were 100k and when they finally got to a place where I could 'almost' afford one, I bought one.. My business started out as engraving and rubber stamps with pantographs and a vulcanizer, but over the years drifted somewhat away and more into the printing field. I bought the laser 5 years ago, and now everything is drifting back to the engraving, and my laser had paid for itself twice over for every year I've had it.. Just buying one, and trying to 'start' a business from scratch could be a hard row to hoe, but 'adding' one to a current promotional business can be like owning a license to print money.. There are several 'trophy' shops in my area, but they concentrate on trophies, and other than a few name badges, have been no competition to me at all.. If I had to start over? All things considered, I'd probably do exactly what I did.. If I can make a comfortable living, I'm happy.. There is a lot to be said for not wanting to be the richest guy in the graveyard!