View Full Version : Laser Product Part 2

Tom Buzz Bernard
04-01-2013, 2:30 PM
Creation of a Laser Product

Part 2

In April I was going to discuss a recent new product idea I created but then I stopped. Based on when you might be reading this thread there is another product that better fit the timing.

We always want to be aware of annual events. Plus, these annual events give thought to new ideas for other products throughout the year. I know I’m being vague but the annual event just around the corner is “GRADUATION”. What product can we make with our laser to fulfill a need, make people want to buy, and get exposure for our business? Graduation is a great event for personalized products. Each year the demand is there and plenty of room for new creations.

I can think of at least 5 different graduation ideas. We could use last month’s idea and take a picture of the school along with some unique laser cut features to make a must-have product that could be hung in one’s office, displayed with pride, or create a simple desktop product.

Or we could create something to hold the graduates tassel for display or maybe something to hold the diploma/certificate using the school’s colors. We have students graduating from middle school, high school, college and each may want a choice of personalized products to pick from.

Some of the ideas we could create can be more functional, simple, yet still a product that is needed. I want you to think of all the possibilities when you are creating products. Make all the typical items you can think of, but I am going to try to give you an idea that you might have overlooked. When I went to school we used to receive a few invitations to give to family members to attend the graduation. If I remember correctly we were allowed to invite 12 or it might have been 20 people. Some parents have gone out and had fancy invitations made to honor their loved ones graduating. Custom-personalized products are right up your alley!

Go to any store and you will see fancy-cut cards (for all occasions) that you know had to be die cut or passed through a laser. This is not a new concept, but have you given thought to the profit, feasibility, or personalized need you could provide with your laser in your city, county, or state for personalized laser-cut cards?

For a graduation invitation you could create something with the school colors when choosing the card stock. One option is a laser-cut design on the cover, with a printed interior (using your inkjet printer), detailing the person’s achievements. Or you could print the cover with the school in the background and cut a fancy interior sheet. This may not be that clear so let’s create a generic card. Remember, the more personalized a card is, the more demand for others to buy when they see it. Example: if the head cheerleader buys a custom graduation invitation from you, what are the chances the rest of the squad will want one?

I just have regular 20 lb paper around the shop to create this example, but we can price this out with card stock to figure material cost. Even if you use two 20 lb sheets glued together this still makes a nice card. I would probably use a heavy stock for the outside cover and use regular paper weight for the inside.

I did not have a specific school in mind for my example so I took images of a graduation hat and diploma scroll to print all over the cover. You certainly can improve on this, but it gives you the idea. On the inside I want to try something different. Could I take one of our LaserBuzz designs and make a pop-up card? I think this method could be used with any of our designs. This will make it unique and gives me ideas for other uses.

Now, for the inside of the invitation (prior to laser-cutting), I printed the inside first (your inside info should be more personalized than what I used as the example). If this was for a cheerleader I would have used the cheerleading design. Since I used a graduation cap on the outside, I repeated this on the inside with the year, school name, etc.

I placed the printed sheet in the laser and cut out the areas I wanted for my effect. Note: a quick way to line up the cut would be to take a larger piece of paper and put a tape hinge on one side attached to your vector table. Make your cut on the blank piece, and then slide your printed sheet under to line up. Flip your template out of the way (fold back on tape hinge) and cut your finished sheet. Most lasers can cut several sheets at a time.

Once the inside sheet is printed and cut, glue it to the inside of your cover sheet (I used a glue stick). Then fold the card in half using a straight edge to get your pop-up piece to fold outward. You can see the picture example.

This is a pretty simple design to embellish; I would suggest making a template that could be used year after year. Could you make a design for showers, weddings, birthdays, get-well cards, and endless other ideas? What is the material cost? Mark up? Perceived value? Profit?

The paper material ranges from 2 to 4 cents per sheet, and printing is a guess (30 cents to $$). I think you would be hard pressed to spend 50 cents in material costs. A normal card sells for $5.00+, but I think you could easily get more. If you only got five dollars that still hits our 1000% mark-up target. I would fit my web page or contact info in small print on the card someplace. Marketing your company is the most important thing you do! You will learn future sales will come from previous orders and that is how your company will grow.

Of course this is just one idea for graduation that could be used for many other markets. I had a customer who did a large volume of sales for High School graduation invitations in their state; they told me $20K their first year. Minimum order size was $200 and they still ran out of time to fulfill the demand.

I must say the one unique thing about a laser is it can cut. I know many use the laser primarily for engraving (rastering). I once had a friend (YES, Buzz does have a friend!) come to me and ask to have his parent’s picture engraved into a mirror for their 50th anniversary. I engraved the back, painted it black, flipped it over and admired how nice it came out. But then I started to think – this is still similar to a black & white photo. Although it was nice I couldn’t help but think – could I have die-sublimated a color picture and applied it to the mirror?

The one thing a laser can do that no printer can compete with is CUT! I don’t care if you are making business cards for someone, cut something out so they stop and say “WOW, how did you do that?” Of course that is when you show them your Dremel tool and smile. :)

Roy Nielsen
04-01-2013, 11:14 PM

Thanks for these great ideas and how you go about looking at material cost versus target price as a goal. I'm looking forward to many more of your future postings.


Tom Buzz Bernard
04-07-2013, 11:40 AM

Thanks for these great ideas and how you go about looking at material cost versus target price as a goal. I'm looking forward to many more of your future postings.


Thanks Roy for your feedback.

If there is interest I will keep posting more.

Dee Gallo
04-07-2013, 1:02 PM

Good thought-provoking threads, thanks! The most productive thing we can focus on is understanding the customers we might have and create something to make them want and need the product even though they didn't know they wanted or needed it.

One more thing the laser can do that a printer can't is handle more different substrates. You just can't put a piece of wood or metal directly into a printer. Or a cracker or fabric or leather or wooden rose.

keep up the inspirational work, dee

Craig Matheny
04-08-2013, 3:15 PM
Tom has a great Idea, but the bigger picture is one that we can all glean from his post the concept. I personally do not do this type of work for hire as I just don't like it. However, with that said I have done many for friends and family for instance we did some invites in the shape of a bostie for a wedding shower using some scrapbook paper to get the colors and cribs for a baby shower. The cards are a big hit if you can figure out the market.

Thanks Tom for re-surfacing an old idea