Start your own laser engraving business with Endurance lasers
Laser engraving as business
Let me share my experience in starting a small business with a small amount of money (around 495$ for the equipment). Inspired by the success of a classmate selling cotton candy, I decided to try a laser engraving business (engraving images on objects), because I’m interested in this topic and the price of the equipment with acceptable characteristics was less than my budget.
Personal experience (written by Sergey Mironov)
In this article I will focus on the business component, in the next – I will describe in detail the capabilities of the program and equipment, the correct settings and the results. Therefore, I warmly welcome here those who follow a similar path, since there are many manufacturers and types of equipment for laser engraving.
After consulting with an experienced classmate, I realized that when saving money at the start, you needed to carefully and meticulously choose the equipment. Having studied the market and the reviews, you understand that the budget of 750$ does not include active support of the buyer and the high quality of the equipment. Chances are it will be Chinese, DIY, and low-powered. When choosing a technology for this money, I refused to buy a powerful CO2 laser (40 W and above), since it would be a very cheap CO2 laser, i.e. the lowest possible quality with uncertain service life. I chose a semiconductor laser and a prefabricated DIY of aluminum frames, on Arduino. There are lasers with the optical power from 1 to 8 W on sale. 1 W is enough for engraving, while for cutting 5-8 W is needed.
The distributor is from Moscow, but the software and instructions are in English. On Youtube, there are video reviews in Russian. So I ran the software, had a look at the software settings and focusing, spoiled a couple of pieces of plywood, tested different materials (plastic and leather cases for smartphones, a bamboo plate from Ikea, wooden pieces from Leonardo) and various types of images, achieved an acceptable quality by setting the laser intensity (from 1% up to 100%), the exposure time (from 5 to 100 msec). At the end, I mustered up the nerve to go out into the world.
Participation in outdoor events with crowds of people is a concentration of trial and error, when in a short time you can understand what exactly people need, who the target audience is, how much they are willing to pay, and accordingly how much you can earn. For example, I photographed and recorded videos of satisfied customers to post on my website and social networks for advertising.
Fig 1. A happy customer with her engraved photo.
Fig 2. A couple of happy customers demonstrating a wallet with a logo.
I bought a few workpieces and took part in two Moscow events: SBERBANK IT Conference “Promotion” (on the DI Telegraph site near the Red Square, free entrance) and Geek Picnic 2017 (in Kolomna park, entrance fee 10-20$). Some workpieces, such as cutting boards, hangers, photo frames) were not at all interesting to people, and some sold like hotcakes. So we are testing the demand…
Fig 3. Workpieces.
For work I used a DIY engraver valued at 495$ with the working area of A6, the Acan program, and a 3.5 W Endurance laser.
This was enough to engrave a picture on an object presented by a customer, or on a workpiece.
At my first event, people did not understand what I was offering and constantly asked questions. Therefore, next time I engraved the following texts on a large wicker circle: “Before your very eyes!” Favorite ah: logo or photo on a case, purse, workpiece! From 10-20$ + material.”,”3 at the price of 2″, “How do you make happy your beloved?”, “I don’t give a damn, I’m engraving wherever I want.” Plus, to attract attention, I exhibited beautiful samples of engraving and cutting.
At events, customers want to get results here and now, a FIFO queue is formed at once, so to maximize the revenue it is necessary to minimize the time for preparing a picture or text and the engraving process itself. It took up to 2 minutes to prepare simple texts and outline pictures, and up to 7 minutes to process complicated photos and large images. The engraving process took from 5 to 30 minutes.
On the first day, I suggested that people should themselves determine the cost of my work, i.e. pay how much they are willing to pay, how much they do not mind. Some guys were not willing to pay for the engravings on their material, which was depressing. While girls gave from 100% to 800% of the margin, where 100% is the cost of the workpiece. On the second day, I set the average price of 15-20$ including my material. On the third day I charged 10-20$ rubles for an engraving + the price of the material.
The average income was 100-200$ per day.
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Run your business as successful as Florian Kelsh
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