View Full Version : Setting up a new laser business, what other tools have are important for success?

jon stevenson
03-27-2019, 11:34 PM
Well I have been a member for only a short time and have been trying to soak in a lot of knowledge on this forum, so thank you to all this far. I, like others I’m sure, decided to purchase my first laser in hopes of finding success, fulfillment in what I do and hopefully a profit. Being a laser is so versatile i will be honest and say I have no idea where I’m going to end up with it until I start knocking on doors and see where the demand for it will come from.
I will possibly be ordering a 80w speedy 400 in the next week unless I feel compelled last minute to go with another brand. I am hoping I find it to be a capable and versatile machine.
In any case, in a fresh start up, I have ideas of what I want to do to at least get my name out there and try to show some capabilities of the machine, but I know it will take plenty of time to learn the laser and all of the different substrates and techniques to use them appropriately. To me sometimes it seems overwhelming as far as what tools should I use to cut aluminum sheets, should I get a small mill, should I get a plasma cutter, what accessories, what materials on hand,maybe a better table saw?maybe a better bench? The list can go on and on.
I was just hoping some of you experienced operators may have some tips of what tools and materials you purchased that make your laser business easier or that you can’t believe you ever went without. I look forward to being apart of the community and hopefully a contributor as I get my feet wet :)

Gary Hair
03-28-2019, 6:45 AM
That's a lot like a post I did on another forum 13 years ago when I started my business. Some of the best advice I got was not to buy a bunch of stuff right away, let your customers dictate what you should purchase and when. Don't buy a bunch of product to engrave and sell unless that is the market need in your area. As for "getting your name out there" - don't do it by discounting your prices just to drum up business - all that does is "get the word out" that you are cheap. If you win customers on price, you will lose them on price. Win them with your service and quality and the price won't matter.
A Trotec Speedy 400 is a great choice, I know it will serve you well! If you do go that route and you think you want a rotary fixture, I have one for sale that is in pristine condition. I have used it a lot but I take care of my equipment quite well.
As for other tools - an inexpensive Digital caliper is indispensable, blue painters tape for test marking, 1/16" acrylic for fixtures and templates. If you need to cut aluminum sheets then a shear is ideal, but that depends on what you need to cut. For name badges and the like, you don't need anything besides a shear. If you want custom shapes that are not rectangular then you might want to consider outsourcing them instead of cutting in-house. All of this is just guesswork at this point though, not knowing what you will be doing makes it a bit difficult to suggest more.

The best thing you can do is focus on getting comfortable with your design software, Corel Draw is best, Trotec Job Control, and the laser itself.

Mike Null
03-28-2019, 8:23 AM
Welcome to SMC. I second most of what Gary says. I am now in my 21st year in the engraving business. Its purpose is to supplement my retirement income but it does more than that. Like Gary says, don't buy equipment until you need it.

Mine is home based and I provide engraving services for the most part. I make it a rule not to inventory anything I don't plan to use in 90 days. So my inventory is made up of sheet plastics (I use Johnson's), certain aluminum and brass metals, one particular type of plaque which I recommend when a customer inquires. If they want something different I special order it.

If there is a process I can't do I farm it out to a competitor or to a supplier. Don't buy equipment you won't use often enough to make a profit on it.

Go to the trade shows--there is much to be learned.

I had a "catastrophic" event last week. We had a sudden power outage. When I went to run a laser job the computer and the laser wouldn't communicate. On Friday I called Trotec tech support.. The tech worked with me for over 3 hours and installed JC on a new pc. Still no luck. I messed around over the weekend and probably did more harm than good. Monday--another 2 plus hours with Trotec tech support. Using some work-arounds we got the new pc to work and I was able to get out some jobs. Yesterday, more issues popped up. another call to Trotec tech support--solved the problem--a printer driver issue and this guy took the time to look into my other pc issue and soon enough had it back up and running better than before.

This is my second Trotec and this tech support is one of the reasons I'll stick with them. BTW, some of my pc issue was caused by old Watash himself. (me)

jon stevenson
03-28-2019, 8:34 PM
Thanks for the advice so far, the pricing is definitely going to be tricky at first as I canít charge for my time to learn when experienced guys like yourselves ďpresumablyĒ draw something up and and are cutting in minutes:) Do you find its best to charge by actual laser time plus a set up fee? Or how do you find the best way to price For you is? I can see already if iím going to be ďArtsyĒ with the laser i will never get my money back at least for one offs when you add in design time,Color filling,cutting, assembling etc. I know I may have to do some artsy things to get going but I recognize for myself thatís not what I want my end game to be and that the time will have be eaten by me as the education cost:) I will definitely take note on not much inventory, Iím in a rural setting but freight is only 2 days out.

jon stevenson
04-01-2019, 10:47 PM
Well itís official, a new speedy 400 is on the way or production line at least!! Very excited, ready to get at it.

Gary Hair
04-02-2019, 8:10 AM
Well itís official, a new speedy 400 is on the way or production line at least!! Very excited, ready to get at it.

Congratulations! You are going to love it!!

Mike Null
04-02-2019, 8:18 AM

Congratulations! Keep us posted.