View Full Version : Providing a quote

Graham Taylor
03-31-2015, 10:31 PM
How would you guys provide an estimate for a job that you haven't done before such as an engraving or simply cutting out a word or a shape in a material you haven't used before?

For example - a customer has contacted you for a quote to cut the word 'Welcome' out of a piece of 6mm MDF - how do you work out a price for them?

It's easy enough to work out the cost of materials but how do you estimate how long it will take if you haven't cut the word out in the material of their choice before without actually doing the job? You could cut it out of paper to get a time estimate but that is going to be quicker than cutting it from the 6mm MDF they want it in so how do you scale the timing so that it works out to be a price that you are happy with without actually doing the job and risk wasting materials that could be used for other things?

Hopefully the general idea of the question makes sense and that it can be asked for jobs ranging from cutting out shapes/words to engraving jobs on materials that are unfamiliar?

Sent from my iPad

Glen Monaghan
03-31-2015, 11:02 PM
Some systems have job time estimation software that can help if you have material settings, but you can do it manually too. I recently had a similar request and started by cutting a few small shapes from a sample of the material to determine appropriate speed/power/frequency settings. Then I cut a couple of different sized reference shapes with those settings. I used a CorelDraw macro to get the cut line lengths (perimeters) of the reference shapes and the actual job shapes, and multiplied the time for a reference shape by the length of the job shapes, divided by the length of the reference shape. That gave an estimate of the job time. Repeated with a second (different size/shape) reference and took the worse as my time estimate.

Bid accordingly and, assuming you do the job, keep a record of your calculations and actual time to improve future estimates.

Chris J Anderson
03-31-2015, 11:20 PM
Hi Graham,

It really gets back to an addition of all of the following...
1- The time to set the job up, do artwork etc.
2- The time your machine is in use to do the job.
3- The time to clean up / finish the job.
4- The sell price of your materials.

Its really simple to set up a spreadsheet to do the calculations for you.
I have a spreadsheet which has the following...
- My setup rate per minute.
- My cleanup rate per minute.
- My charge per per sq cm raster. (for each material).
- My charge per cm vector. (for each material).

I then simply enter...
- Setup time in minutes.
- The width and height of the material to be used.
- The raster width and height.
- The vector length.
- Cleanup time in minutes.
- Additional materials.

Alongside each material its price is shown, really simple.

To find out your rate per cm...
If you cut out a 100 mm square, and just time how long it takes, do the math for your hourly rate, the rest is simple.

Once you start on the spreadsheet, as you do different materials your sheet becomes more accurate and more powerful over time.
It also reduces the time required to quote, and looks more professional if you have a consistent process that you go through for quoting.

It also serves a reality check for how long some of these jobs actually take, and how much we can tend to underquote.

Hope this helps...


Andrew Holloway
03-31-2015, 11:25 PM
As Glen said, doing test squares in that material to get the power/speed/frequency settings right.

If you don't have any on hand and don't want to get any until they decide to go ahead then estimate based on a similar material. ie, on my machine 3mm mdf cuts at exactly twice the speed of 6mm MDF. Create the material in Job Control with your best estimates, import the job and get the time estimate.

If you are not too confident and/or haven't used any similar material, quote lowish and use this job to work out pricing for next time. Let them know you are giving them a good deal so they won't expect the same low price next time. I find this to be a great way to 'get paid to learn'.

If it's a large order, it would be worth getting some material and making a sample at your cost to give you a good idea of where to quote. It sounds like this is a small one off job so this is probably irrelevant.

Dan Hintz
04-01-2015, 6:21 AM

I know that sounds like a "lob it over the wall" answer, but it's quite valid. With experience, you will know how long a particular substrate of a particular thickness will take to cut or engrave to a certain detail/blackness level. You can only get this experience via experimentation on your "off time" or by taking jobs at (quite possibly) incorrect rate quotes. You suck it up if you got it wrong and learn from the experience for next time.

Junior hall
04-01-2015, 8:03 AM
Dan Hintz can he use this for some close pricing http://thesignexpert.com/sign-pricing-calculators/sandblasted-sign-calculator/

Mike Null
04-01-2015, 8:55 AM
Your Trotec will estimate the job time for you providing you input the speed and number of passes. You have probably done some materials previously that will give you a close idea of what power and speed you'll need.

Chris has offered a pretty complete list of other considerations.

Graham Taylor
04-01-2015, 2:55 PM
Thanks guys, I do have a spread sheet to give me a price so that's all good. I was just wondering how you estimate for a job that your have never done before.

i guess I just need to keep trying different things to get more experience with different materials.

thanks again

Mike Lysov
04-01-2015, 5:23 PM
As Glen has mentioned above already you can get a macro that will measure a total length of all curves you need to cut out. And if you do not know required speed for some specific material you can run a test with a square and an open lid to get it.
Moreover if that macro can calculate an area of a shape and you know material density you can even calculate how much its exact weight will be. I do this calculation for MDF signs I cut out to make sure I quote the right shipping cost.
I use E-cut macro that comes with all these functions plus a lot of others.

Mayo Pardo
04-01-2015, 6:44 PM
Mike Null already mentioned this - The Trotec Job Control software gives you the estimated job time.
Just design the job and send it to the printer as if you're going to run the job.
In the material set up select Wood and there should be an entry for plywood. Within the Wood heading/folder you can create a new entry for MDF.

My Speedy 300 is only 30 Watts but I have cut 1/8 inch MDF at 100 power, 0.50 speed, 2000hz. 1 pass.
I have cut 1/4 inch plywood at 100 power, 0.60 speed, 1000hz and 3 passes.
I imagine an 80 watt will be tremendously faster but I don't know of any formulas to multiply out to get a change for increased wattage.

The estimated job time will be shown when you are in the job control screen with the job selected.

MDF is cheap enough to buy a 2'x4' (or smaller) piece and run some test cuts. Have fun with it!

Mike Lysov
04-01-2015, 8:31 PM
It is good that Trotec has it built in but most lasers do not. The method that Glen has mentioned and I confirmed works for any laser and probably can be applied for engraving as well.

BTW, I use it for estimating bulk orders to give the best possible quote. For one sign orders(mostly MDF words/letters) I just charge per letter based on a sign height and thickness.