View Full Version : Time and Pricing

David L Shaw
09-18-2007, 9:27 PM
Not a user of a laser yet, but hopefully soon. My sideline business is making custom grips for bows (archery) out of Dymondwood. I make around 1800 of them a year in my spare time ( if you call every evening and all day Saturday and Sunday spare time). I believe I could hit a 30% to 40% of those grips as being engraved with name, initials, picture or both. I found a younger gentleman that has a Mercury II laser 25 watt to engrave them for me recently. He is not actively using the laser as he is in the construction business now. I am about his only customer. He says it takes him up to six minutes to burn a name (16 letters) and 4 minutes for a small graphic. This seems like a long time for that task. My question is what should the time to engrave a name 1/4 inch high take?

He is thinking about about leasing or renting by the hour the laser. The laser would be located at my location. The first price he quoted seemed way out of line for a 2 1/2 year old Mercury II 25 watt laser. He quoted $525 a month or $2 a minute (corrected original post that stated $2 an hour). The $2 a minute might be reasonable if I can get the engraving times down to a minute or two. What are your thoughts

an archer, woodworker, computer person in Kansas


Stephen Beckham
09-18-2007, 9:42 PM
David - I guess I'll be the first to jump in on this one...
Run away from that deal. At $535 a month I could have gotten a better laser than I have. You can get your own - and pay less than $500 a month (I got a 45W brand new at $20K and paying $443 per month for purchase). If you're only going to be doing smaller parts - you could get one of the smaller ones starting at $12K and pay way less per month.

The other option is to lease one from a dealer. If you decide it's not for you - let the lease run out. If it's right for you trade up or buy right out. Still a better deal than taking hand me down's at that price...

My 2 cents...


Bill Cunningham
09-18-2007, 10:34 PM
Hmmm If you burn em D E E P, either of those engravings should take 1-2 minutes, mabe two, with a 25 watt machine.. I could carve that into a rock, in 6 minutes!!!
Maybe his tubes on the way out!!

Joe Pelonio
09-18-2007, 11:10 PM
I'd say that 6 minutes on that machine seems a long time too, but then it's only 25 watts and a more powerful machine could cut it to less than a minute.

I also agree that for $500/month you could make a lease payment on about a $16,000 machine brand new.

On the other hand $2/hour seems reasonable if you only use it a few hours a day. One problem though, who pays when it breaks down, especially if something like the tube going out that's expensive to fix?

Nice work on the grips!

Mike Hood
09-18-2007, 11:10 PM
Either of those should be engravable in less than a minute or so at the outside.

If he'll rent time for $2/hour ... I'd just do that. heck that's $16 for a whole shift of laser time. The electricity to run the laser, computer and compressor would cost that much. :)

David L Shaw
09-18-2007, 11:38 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I corrected the original post from $2 an hour to $2 a minute for the use the laser.

Lets, thats $120 an hour, $960 a day, or $4800 a week if a person was to run the laser constantly for 8 hours a day.


Gary Hair
09-19-2007, 12:22 AM
If those names take that much time then he certainly has a problem with his laser. I could do them in less than a minute. If you want to avoid the expense and trouble of owning your own laser, I would be happy to sub those parts out for a very reasonable rate. Let me know by PM or Email if you are interested.


Niklas Bjornestal
09-19-2007, 4:05 PM
Or you could get a cheap chines laser...
I have a RS3040 and it works fine when engraving, but its not that good when cutting.

Dave Fifield
09-19-2007, 4:17 PM
The LASER run time might only be 1 minute, but if presented with this job, I'd also charge for the time to launch Corel Draw X3, type in the name, retrieve the graphic, choose the right font and size the text, size the graphic, set up the print options, download the work to the laser, position it correctly, then, after the lasering was done, unload it, wipe it clean, pack it up, and ship it. This would take about 6 minutes per item when amortized over a small batch IMO - you'd be surprised how long stuff takes to do.....

Laser/prep time is more usually charged at $1 per minute.

Bill Cunningham
09-20-2007, 9:18 PM
Dave's right, if you include everything, the time would certainly be 6 minutes or more.. Although, the burn time would be short, if these are all 'one off' items, and he's including the setup time, the time is not bad!! Someone walking into my shop to have 'one' of these done, would be charged a minimum of $15.00 if the customer supplied digital logo artwork on a disk.. If not, well that gets more expensive.. A regular customer supplying a quantity of these to be done, would get a much better price.. I have taxidermists that I do simple enamel brass plates for, and their price is half my price for a walk-in 'one off'

David L Shaw
09-20-2007, 10:54 PM
The times he was quoting were the burn times, no setup time included. The $2 a minute were for me to take possession of the laser and place it a my business and I do all the setup and burning. This is the way I would like to it since I am very picky on the way the lettering and graphics are placed on the grip and would have total control of it. I take care of computers for a living and I am into graphic design so I don't see a problem there. Remember he has had it for 2 1/2 years and only has a few hours on it. He has only done 3 jobs this year besides the 30 some jobs that I have had him do in the last 2 weeks. That would include doing anything that he might need to have done but that wouldn't count against the laser time.

Looks like it might be a way to get my feet wet without investing a lot of money and seeing if I do have a stable paying market for the use on a laser. Right now I am charging my customers $9 to have up to 20 letters put on one of my grips. You can check out how I have my pricing and setup for the laser engraving on my website.... http://www.torqueless.com/engraving.htm

Am I off base for what I am charging for the finished product. I believe the engraving will bring in a few extra dollars on the grips that I sell but I don't believe it will actually increase the volume of sales that I do on the grips. It might be a deciding factor on a grip from me instead of one of my competitors but not that often.

Thanks for the comments,

Darren Null
09-21-2007, 12:41 AM
$2 a minute? 6 minutes per burn? The bloke is pulling your parts.

You don't need that size of machine just for grips; you can almost certainly lease a new one for less money; and I'd be surprised if the burns took that long.

Bill Cunningham
09-23-2007, 7:38 PM
If his laser has little time on it, that could also be a problem.. Non use for long periods of time will also kill a laser tube.. You will be far better off to get your own..