Maximizing Laser Production and Your Profits

Posted by Trevor Wanamaker on

One of the most common questions I get is, how do I charge for my work and how do I maximize my production. The main driver for this is going to be quantity. There are many factors to consider when making custom items such as design time, machining time, material cost, and much more. By creating larger quantities, the design time cost will be spread out over more items, making it a more manageable amount than if you were to charge for one single item.

In this video, I walk through what the machining times look like for one item versus a full sheet and how that plays into your cost.

MATERIALS USED (May contain affiliate links)

TOOLS USED

STEP 1: Create the Artwork

One of the most important things to keep in mind when attempting to maximize your production is the design and how you lay everything out.

When making a product, it is typically faster per item to machine multiple at one time than it is to do one single item at a time. These magnets are a perfect example of this.

In this order, I needed to make 200 magnets. To maximize the production for the magnets, I decided to lay them out to fill an entire sheet of the material. This allowed me to fit 40 magnets on a single sheet.

STEP 2: Machining the Magnets

When machining the magnets, I decided to do a test to see how long it would take to machine magnets one at a time vs the time it takes to machine one single magnet when machined as an entire sheet.

For this to work, I machined a single magnet first to see how long it took. The entire process to make a single magnet took 2:09. 

Next, I decided to machine an entire sheet of 40 magnets at a single time. The entire machining time for 40 magnets was 29:51, which calculates to 44.78 seconds per magnet.

This means that machining an entire sheet at once is 2.8x faster per magnet than making magnets one at a time.

What Does This Mean?

When you are trying to work with a client, it is often better if you're able to get a bulk order for a larger quantity of items, than it is to make a single item for things such as keychains, magnets, etc.

There are things that you need to take into consideration when you are pricing your work.

  • Design time
  • Set-up time
  • Material cost
  • Machining time cost
  • Electricity to run machine and associated items
  • Packaging
  • Marketing Items (business cards, magnets, promo material)

When you take these things into consideration, it makes the selling price for one single completely custom magnet more expensive than most customers will be willing to pay. This doesn't necessarily apply to designs you make where making it "custom" involves only changing a name or a date.

Consider this. Let's say that adding up all your set costs that are independent of machine time results in a total cost of $50 for design, set-up, packaging, and marketing items. Just those costs alone make a single magnet more expensive than I'd be willing to pay as a customer. Then when you add in material and everything else, it's too expensive.

Now, let's take the same fixed costs and consider it's spread over 200 magnets. This means that the same costs are $0.25 per magnet now for design, set-up, packaging, and marketing. This is a drastic difference.

When it comes to laser produced items, making items in bulk will help you charge what you're worth much more easily than doing one of small items.

 


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