I get this question a lot- “If I purchase a laser how quickly can I pay it off? Is it a good investment”? This question is so specific to so many factors that it is hard to say! In my area laser work is booming because there isn’t anyone else with a laser (that I am aware of) so everybody goes to me. Where as someone who has a more heavily populated area, the story may be completely different.
I have been patrolling various groups though and have gathered some thoughts as to what makes a laser business sucessful and what people should keep in mind when looking or joining the laser communities.
Some common things with successful laser businesses I have seen:
- Original Files & Design. If you can design and make your own files you can continue to push new designs and products out there
- Organization & management. You need to have a solid structure and foundation to keep ahead of projects, materials, clients, etc.
- Location. This is huge if you work local! Get your name out there and try to talk to people.
- Budgeting. Do you have enough to set aside for a laser? What about the materials and maintenance?
- Passion & Drive. If you love what you do- your work will show and speak for itself!
- Lending a helping hand. It’s not all about competition- it’s about supporting eachother. Is your laser waiting on a part? There may be someone local who can help pick up the slack!
How did YOU know a laser was right for you?
After having countless people ask me if my Cricut could engrave or cut wood, I knew! Truthfully, it was a risk. But that risk has paid off tremendously! Another thing people don’t often think about is when you start out, you don’t want to sell right away. You want to learn your materials, test them out and make sure that they hold up and function properly. I usually accommodate 1-2 months for testing. I test all new materials and the same for suppliers in the same way. I don’t sell until I know it holds up as I see fit.
One good way to test your materials and projects is through gifts! My friends love it when I gift them something handmade. They are also my testers so whenever I come out with something new I usually try it out myself or have them try it as well.
Now- let’s get into a rundown of what I feel is needed when starting out with your laser:
- Laser (I went with a 60w OMTech)
- Distilled Water for Pump/ Cooling
- Inline Fan Upgrade (This is the one I have)
- Double Wall Tubing for Fumes (This is what I have)
- Proper Maintenance Materials
- Grease for rails (once a month)
- Cloths for cleaning the lens
- 99% Isopropal alcohol
- Materials (you can actually order seconds or blemished scraps which is what I started with!)
- Chiller (recommended if you live in a warm climate)
- New tubing for Chiller (I got a thicker one so it wouldn’t kink and set off the alarm)
- Distilled Water for Chiller
- Rotary (if you want to do glasses/ mugs)
- Air Assist (if you want cleaner cuts)
- Lightburn Camera
Which brings us to…
As a rough estimate, $2750 for the laser. $150 for inline fan & tubing. $50.00 for the maintenance supplies. Then the material cost is really up to you. So I would budget around 3k for a laser at least. Now prices fluctuate all the time so this could change day to day and week to week.
Who shouldn’t get a laser?
I have come across some individuals in my groups who have been ever so kind to share their stories. One of the largest reasons (other than budget) is iv’e seen some people have allergies when engraving or cutting wood. Even with proper ventillation- some people are extremely sensitive or have certain sensitivities to different woods and acrylics. Many are not aware of this until they start working with the machines.
Another thing to also be mindful of is if you live in a small apartment or have a small area- chances are you might not be able to fit certain sized lasers through your doors or up the stairs so you will need to ensure that you get one that fits. Iv’e also heard people advise letting the building manager/ landlord know (if you are in an apartment) to ensure there isn’t any issues.
As much as my boyfriend wants my laser to move in- there isn’t any way we are getting a 300 pound machine up three flights of stairs in an old building and through a tiny door.
Looking for some more tips & advice?
Check out the resources over at OMTech (small business advice section) for more info. For those who may not know me as well and are jumping into seeing my laser work- iv’e been collaborating with the amazing team over at OMTech and they have some great resources in the works to help out potential laser owners and/or laser newbies too!
How about you? Have you ever thought about adding a laser to your business or growing your work? I’m always open to questions! I know in a lot of my business groups not many people know about all the different options available when it comes to these machines!