View Full Version : Just wondering if someone can help? Before I dive in.

John Ernest
04-26-2010, 10:15 AM
Hello everyone. I'm new to this forum. Well actually I've been lurking around this forum for years. Its just now I decided to sign up. So here's my situation: I'm a step close to leasing an Epilog Zing 40 watt. I plan to use this engraver to tap into a particular niche market thats in relation to my hobby.
It wasn't until recently I started to utilize the service of a laser engraving shop to experiment. I had a couple parts engraved with my artwork. I posted them for sale on a forum for people of like interest and within 2 hours they were sold. Several people also inquired when I'll have more of these. I pretty much got a very good reception from alot of members. I also showed these to my local retailer who sells such products. They seemed pretty excited by it as well.
From my standpoint, The signs seem to be all there, that I should proceed with leasing this epilog. But, I still need more convincing within myself before I invest in such.

Tom Bull
04-26-2010, 10:26 AM
I would definately farm this work out a bit longer before a financial commitment is made. There is bound to be someone who wants a bit of extra work in your area. Check with trophy and award shops if you don't get what you want here.

Mike Null
04-26-2010, 11:19 AM

I hate to welcome you to SMC by deleting part of you first post but our TOS do not permit help wanted ads at all. Other ads, such as used equipment, materials and such can be advertised in our Classified Forum by contributing members.

Another option is for you to contact anybody in the Friends of the Creek listings. This is a new feature that we are just beginning which will list members who have services and products to offer of various types. (see Friends of the Creek thread for details)

I hope you'll find that we really are a helpful lot even if your first post has been edited.

Viktor Voroncov
04-26-2010, 1:01 PM
Mike - this is super! :)
I hate to welcome you to SMC by deleting part of you first post

John Noell
04-26-2010, 2:43 PM
John, welcome to the creek! Your question about the viability of your business idea is one nearly all of us have asked. No one else here can really tell you if your business plan (and I hope you have a real business plan in hand) will succeed. But I can say that unless you are clear about your market and how to satisfy it, it is unlikely that a scattergun approach will bring in enough customers to pay for the machine, materials, and your time. IMHO your business plan and Corel (or similar program) skills are more important than the specific laser you buy or lease.

James Terry
04-26-2010, 5:44 PM
I own and also participate in a couple of forums and I can tell you first hand that forum folk are fickle. Always remember that talk is cheap. I have actually polled my group for "who would by this", then made it happen through a vendor and almost none of those polled ever bought it...

I would operate through a vendor for a little longer even if there is no profit to be had by doing this. You need to get a better feel for things. Use this time to build up your portfolio with unproduced items; ie: do the tough artwork and design up front. When you have enough variety to stuff a small storefront, get some produced, test the market, then buy the laser machine.

You can also sell on Ebay at that time. You can also work to get listed on Amazon as well.

Consider buying a second hand laser. I picked mine up for a steal by looking for it for months. The right deal comes along eventually and I was ready for it.

If you arent tech savvy, find a nerd who can help you run your website.

I will say this much though, forums are dynamic content and the search engines love them. So if you are able to mate your store to a forum, you have good advertising built in. I'm still learning and working this kind of stuff on my own sites.

Bill Cunningham
04-27-2010, 9:39 PM
How many of those 'widgits' do you have to sell to pay for the laser would be the first question? Is the market big enough the second?

John Ernest
05-01-2010, 1:41 PM
Wow so much advice :) thanks everyone for putting in their .2 cents on my situation. Sorry for the delay in reply, its just been a tough week for me with my new consulting gig. Also my apologies for not reviewing the rules before posting on this forum. Thanks Mike for the welcome and editing my post :)

But yes, I think I will definately hold off on leasing that Epilog Until I do have a solid business plan. I've burned myself before in the past by investing in a Maxnc cnc hobby mill only to realize it was wasn't what it was cracked up to be. But for the meantime, I will continue to toy around with my idea hopefully with the help of someone locally who has a laser engraver. At the same time I will start posting my work on that forum again. But yes forums can be fickle as I've recently learned first hand. A few months ago I machined some parts I designed on CAD for my FJ Cruiser using my uncles cnc shop. I posted pics of it on the fj forums. Members were posting flattering comments but nobody bought. On top of that, from what I heard from other members offline, it also ticked off the forum sponsers/retailers causing the mods to delete my post.

In the case of this other hobby of mine, as I've mentioned, people seem very eager to buy and have bought the things I've had engraved and test marketed. I noticed their enthusiasm in buying my parts only because this is something not normally seen, and its custom looking. I've even gotten inquiries for engraving entire teams and organization logos on their parts but had to turn them down. The market for this hobby of mine is quite big, still in its infancy stages but has gotten huge over the years among young men. Typical retail price for the widget I'm engraving normally retails for $75. Luckily I have close ties to a retailer who sells me these parts much lower at $40 each. Therefore it allows me to sell at full retail and make $35 profit. So by doing the math, in order to make profit to pay off the machine I'd have to sell at least 300 of these parts. Ofcourse there are a bunch of other products within that realm I want to engrave as things progress. I also forgot to mention, I work in the aerospace industry. I'm trying to get a contract with this one company I worked for engraving part numbers onto anodized parts. I also just got word from an ex coworker that they are also looking into laser engraved placards. They are open to the idea of farming it out to him and I as well once the material used for these placards gets FAA approval. So there are lots of ideas one can do with this kind of equipment. Its amazing.

Now as the gears in my head turn, the question I ask myself is, how long would it take for me to pay this machine off with my profit? hmm If only I know someone locally who has a machine and can help me will I ever know. Unless I close my eyes, bite the bullet, and just lease it.

Quite honestly, as the weeks go by, I'm slowly but surely am getting desperate in wanting to know furthur about the success of my idea.
I'm seriousely thinking of starting out with a cheap Chinese laser. Particularly a Rabbit HX3040. But as I research more about this chinese laser on this forum and other forums, I kind of get the impression its not really meant for "industrial" or proffessional type work. More for like for
hobby purposes. Does that impression that I have regarding that machine hold true? If not please enlighten me further in regards to these
china lasers as to why it might be a better and cheap alternative to help launch my idea. I was thinking I can settle for that until I can afford
to pay full cash on a better machine. But I've done cheap before and failed miserably. So yes, budget wise is also an issue. If I can
get the same output quality and results from a Rabbit Laser as compared to an Epilogue zing but at a slower pace, then I may just jump into it. Speed and repeatability I'll worry about later as things progress.

I can always look into farming out the work. Problem is the pricing. The prices I get are just too high for me to make profit considering the small
volume I want to start out with. It was fine when I sent my test pieces out, but it was only for testing the market.

As I review what I've typed out. It really makes me think, and a new question arises. It really comes down to this as I ask myself; should I go ahead and dump $2800 on a Rabbit 3040, deal and fix the kinks of it, do small runs, hoping to eventually use this as a catalysist to upgrade as I deal with higher volumes? This I ask because what if I can't find someone to with a laser willing to help me out? Then ofcourse I'd have to settle for that option.

Thank you everyone for sharing your input which I find quite fatherly. Thank you for the warm welcome on this forum as well. It truly means alot to me. You guys are a great crowd to talk to :)

Dave Johnson29
05-01-2010, 2:45 PM
should I go ahead and dump $2800 on a Rabbit 3040, deal and fix the kinks of


I would not use the term, "dump" with the rabbit and some other Chinese lasers. They are indeed capable of production work.

Do some searching here on Rabbit lasers and in particular James Jaragosky (sp?) he recently bought a second one.

I have set up two for friends and have been quite impressed with them for the cost. One was a Rabbit and the other a Shenui (sp?)

Viktor Voroncov
05-01-2010, 2:48 PM
I have sold more than 100 GCC lasers. I have few customers who have 2-3-4-6 GCC lasers. They work and make money. Their business is stabile.

Look stories and questions on cnczone.com
People pay less for Chinese lasers and spent hours and hours resolving allignment, connection, software problems, problems with glass tube and water cooling. And they always said: I HAVE PAID JUST SMALL AMOUNT OF $$$ FOR THIS LASER.
My choice - Buy Brand laser and make money. With Chinese laser this phrase looks like - Buy Chinese laser and TRY to make money.

Bill Cunningham
05-01-2010, 8:16 PM
The chief reason the Chinese lasers are considered hobby machines, is when they go down, and need parts..
If your in business, and your machine is down, and you need parts, you need them NOW not weeks from now.. My machine has gone down at 11 am in the morning, one call to Epilog, and I'm back up and running by noon the next day, and their 2000 miles or more away from me.. My machine has only gone down three times in 6 years, all three times times I was back up, running, and making money within 24 hours.

Viktor Voroncov
05-02-2010, 4:24 AM
Addition to Bill's post - with chinese lasers you can easily be dissapointed with price for spare parts after warranty. We cancel our relationships with chinese suppliers when promised $120 price for motor after warranty suddenly became $600 :(

Rodne Gold
05-02-2010, 5:31 AM
You will spend round $15k on a good laser with all the accessories - you need to amortise it over 2-3 yrs , IE you need to make $7k per annum to pay the machine and spares/service.

That is a turnover of at least 35k based on a 20% net profit percentage. You havent even paid yourself or taxes , so double or triple that to earn yourself $1200 a month - IE you gonna need about 100k Per annum t/o to make a miserly sum for yourself and pay off your machine.

Thats about 8k a month T/O or $400 a day.

Can you do that with your product?

I would buy a proper production machine if you think you can achieve those figures

Viktor Voroncov
05-02-2010, 12:13 PM
Rodney, you calculation based on worst scenario. Really I also make all calculation based on worst, and in this case reality is always better. But all my customers do less than $400 per day but all of them are profitable with lasers.

Rodne Gold
05-03-2010, 12:22 AM
Yeh , it is toward the "worst case" scenario. I would rather calculate on this basis (or the 1/2 x2 rule - 1/2 advertised production and double advertised costs) than be blithely optimistic and be in for an unpleasant financial surprise.
Most laser purchasers discount the fact that they need to pay themselves as well as the laser ... if you take some of the profitable operations and apply a reasonable salary for the owner - you may find they not that profitable after all.. :)