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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS• Give us an overview of the laser engraving business and how these machines work?
• What software program do most people use with their laser?
• How much does a laser engraver cost?
• Do you offer refunds?
• I've seen different wattages and different bed sizes. What are important factors to take into consideration?
• So a rotary attachment is for lasering things like wine bottles or those types of things?
• Are there a lot of maintenance costs involved in using a laser engraver?
• Do you need a lot of training to operate a laser engraving business?
• Can you run a laser engraving business right out of your home?
• Is there a lot of competition in the awards and trophy business?
• What kinds of things can you make and sell with a laser engraver?
• What kind of products offer the highest profit margins?
• How do I go about developing a business plan for my laser engraving business?
• What about selling wholesale instead of just retail?
• How much should I try to make per hour for engraving?
• What are some effective ways to market my laser engraving business?
• What are some of the most common mistakes people who start a laser engraving business make and how can I avoid them?
• What is the lifespan and cost of laser tubes?
• What is the guarantee?
• What are the power settings for ink marking?
• Any other general advice?
Give us an overview of the laser engraving business and how these machines work?
A laser engraver is a very simple machine to operate. It actually works just like your printer would. Whatever you design on your computer and send it over, it pretty much will cut or engrave for you. The hardest part of running a laser is actually learning the software that you're using.
What design program do most people use with their laser?
90% of it is CorelDRAW. There are a few proprietary programs out there, but most all will import from CorelDRAW exports because that's the predominant software used. Another option is AutoCAD and supported file formats include BMP, DXF, DAT, PLT, AI.
How much does a laser engraver cost?
Prices start from R19,995 for the PLT 2030 40 Watt up to R289,995 for the PL-MC-2513 150 WATT METAL CUTTING LASER.
Do you offer refunds?
Unfortunately we do not offer refunds though all machines come with a 1 year guarantee on the machines and a 6 month guarantee on the laser tubes.
What features are important with laser engravers? I've seen different wattages and different bed sizes. What are important factors to take into consideration?
Well, if somebody were to ask me what I needed in a laser, first off the most important feature is power. Power will get you speed, will cut through thicker substrate, will run things faster, and make more money for you. Then, secondly would be table size. The larger the table, the more options you have to run other things. Air-assist is a must-have feature, I don't care what anybody or any salesman would tell you. You will need air-assist, especially if you're going to be doing any acrylic work, cutting wood, rubber stamps. I mean, there's a thousand different products out there you can make with the laser which you'll need air-assist for. Other features like rotary attachments, unless you have a very specific need or desire to do something in the round, you can do it without even having a rotary attachment but I would take that money and spend it on more power than getting a rotary attachment.
So a rotary attachment is for lasering things like wine bottles or those types of things?
It could be a wedding glass. It could be exactly what you said, a wine bottle. Glass is one of the trickiest substrates to laser engrave, but there are other ways of doing it without needing the rotary attachment. Some people may want to use it for other round objects like bowls and things that you may make and the laser is the secondary project you do on the product.
Are there a lot of maintenance costs involved in using a laser engraver?
Apart from the laser tube itself being replaced around every 3000 hours, there is virtually no maintenance. Nothing has had to be repaired on my machine. In ten years I've had it, I've replaced the focal lens, not because I had to, but I thought it was time and one mirror, because I thought it looked a little cloudy. The maintenance on these things are incredible. It takes so little effort, as long as you keep them clean. If you're running a lot of stuff that causes smoke, you want to clean it up and keep the machine clean. The more you run it, the better the machine performs. The less you run it, that's where you run into problems. If you have your laser sit for long periods of time, you'll start to notice more problems with your laser tube because your gas starts to separate.
Do you need a lot of training to operate a laser engraving business?
Not the laser engraver itself. You'll need some computer experience and knowledge to run the software. As far as if you can be accomplished with photographs or typing or using your computer, your laser is secondary in the learning curve.
Can you run a laser engraving business out of your home?
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I recommend it. If you do not have to get a shopfront, why have that expense? I would probably say 70% of the new entrepreneurs today are running out of their home and I think that percentage is conservative. I think it's actually higher. If you can create a product line that you can expose without having to have a storefront, I recommend that.
Is there a lot of competition in the awards and trophy business?
Yes. If somebody said, I'm going to try to corner the market in the awards and trophy business, I'd wish them well but that would be very, very tough.
What kinds of things can you make and sell with a laser engraver?
Well, that's a loaded question. There's probably 101 to a million and one, because the laser right now is changing so fast. New substrates are coming out every day. New designs, new product lines. If you go to a trade show, you'll see just a tiny portion of what can be done with a laser. You've got to remember, you can engrave but you can also laser cut almost any type of product or sub-part. There are a lot of industries out there that could use your service if they knew what your laser was capable of doing.
What kind of products can you make with your laser which offer the most profit margin for you?
Our industry, or what we do for business, is we create product lines. I try to tell everybody, think about what you can get locally for substrate. Could you run a simple piece of printed paper through your inkjet printer, laser cut it and turn it into a product that could have 2500% mark-up over material costs? Absolutely. Could you get local wood at a lumber yard and turn it into a major product that you could sell nationwide? Absolutely. Besides doing the onesies-twosies, the plaques, the awards, and name tags, look at what type of product line you can develop with substrates you can get locally.
Laser engravers are such a versatile tool that I would imagine a lot of people buy one before they've developed a business plan. How do I go about developing a business plan for my laser engraving business?
You know, any business you get into, if it isn't a franchise, you have to give some thought to what your exit strategy is. Your first priority is to aim to pay off your laser machine in 6-12 months. And with an almost 100% profit margin, that's straightforward.
What about selling wholesale instead of just retail?
Exactly. A big business right now is pets like dogs and cats. If you can make a product that could sell in a place in Cape Town, there is a good chance that someone in Johannesburg who has a dog would want that same product, so technically you could wholesale across the country. Nowadays with shipping and Speed Services, it doesn't matter if you're shipping ten kilometres or a thousand kilometres.
How much should I try to make per hour for engraving?
Let's be realistic here. The laser is one of those machines that you can compete with against Chinese goods, because the profit margin can be that good, but you have to realise that if you ran just forty hours a week times sixty minutes in an hour, that's 2400 minutes a week. If you were making R5 a minute, that'd be R12000 a week. For a R33 000 (PLT 3040) machine? I mean, if somebody told me that I could make that kind of money, I'd want to be buying ten machines. The truth is that what you want to do is keep that machine steady. If you kept that machine steady, even at R2.50 a minute, you'd be making a good living off that R33 000 investment. The trick is not how much you make an hour on that machine, as much as it is getting the sales and marketing volume for running that machine. Better still, train an operator or family member so you can concentrate on networking and marketing.
What are some effective ways to market my laser engraving business?
This is the easy part: weddings, celebrations, gifts (especially tourism ones). Engrave wine glasses and bottles, pictures on jeans and clothing, stylize gifts and accessories, engrave photos directly onto wood, steel or glass to give that permanent durable look and feel. The possibilities are endless.
What are some of the most common mistakes people who start a laser engraving business make, and how do you think I can avoid them?
The biggest mistake one can make is not to network with your friends, business associates and social circles. Constantly set out to impress them with your suggestions. If you keep quiet no one will flock to your door. There are no major recurring costs in the engraving business once you have bought your engraver, but by the same token unless the machine is operating, your revenue will not be maximised.
What is the lifespan and cost of laser tubes?
All our laser tubes are rated at 3000 hours. The cost to replace them ranges from R5000 to R7000.
What is the guarantee?
6 months on the laser tubes and 1 year on the rest of the machine (excluding mirrors and lens).
What are the power settings for ink marking?
Isopropyl can be used as an alternative to Denatured Alcohol
For Airbrush Application: After activating powder, add an additional 10-20% of solvent to achieve a smoother coating. If you see any particles of powder after activation, continue to vigorously shake bottle until material is completely dissolved prior to use.
For Glass Application: Use 10% power, 1000 ppi (dpi) and adjust the speed. Do a power bar of the first setting 10 power 10 speed 1000 ppi. Then try 20, 30, 40 and 50 speed. See what settings work the best on your specific laser. Adjust the speed as needed for your laser to get the best results. Settings will need to be adjusted if using a raster image. A thicker coating of material is recommended for better results on glass and ceramics.
For Wood Application: Apply an even coating of wood mark liquid to entire surface. Dry thoroughly and mark. A clear lacquer coating must be applied to wood after marking to secure mark. If not sealed with lacquer coating the image will smear. Use 100 speed at 500 ppi, and adjust power to the suggested range of settings. (8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18.) Caution anything above 20 power will start to burn the wood.
Any other general advice?
I would say that if somebody wanted to get into a new business, was looking for something very different, something that not everybody has, something that's almost futuristic and that has many possibilities. We can't even tell all the different things you'll be able to make in the future. Then it could be a great business for somebody. It's just like every other business. I don't care if you have a service station, a shoe shop, or a laser engraving business, without exposure and somebody marketing and getting sales, that's where the money comes from. This can be a great, fun business and you can make a lot of money and be able to go to work in your garage if you want to.
| || ||DISCLAIMER / WARNING : Laser cutters/engravers sold by Perfect Laser are Class IV Laser Devices and are extremely dangerous. These lasers will instantly ignite clothing, wood, paper, plastics, and many other common items and will seriously burn flesh, including eyes. Care must be taken to avoid serious injury and/or blindness. Always operate any high power laser in an environment free of flammable materials, children, pets, spectators, etc. Always ensure that flooring around your laser is clean and free of any obstacles. Always ensure that the work surface is kept clean. Always ensure that water cooling is sufficient to keep the tube cool. Always use eye protection when operating your laser. Failure to do so may result in permanent blindness. This laser uses lethal high voltages. Care must be taken when working with high voltage. Failure to do so may result in Serious Injury or Death. Untrained operators are forbidden to operate any laser equipment supplied by Perfect Laser. The use of any laser equipment is dangerous, and you do so entirely at your own risk. Perfect Laser, its staff, employees, family, consultants and technical representatives will not be held liable for any injuries, damages to property or any other damages whatsoever caused by operating laser equipment.|