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How Do I Start A Laser Engraving and Cutting Business? [In 8 Steps]
Wondering how you can step into the laser engraving and cutting business? You’ve just landed on the right page.
Thanks to the technology that now laser engraving machines are compact, affordable, and accessible. It is the reason that a common man can easily start earning money through a laser machine.
We are here with a comprehensive and complete step-by-step guide to help you start a laser engraving and cutting business. We will dig deeper into every step to discover the challenges, what you need to do, and how you can nail every step.
In This Article
- Why start a laser engraving business
- 8 steps to start a laser engraving business
- step 1: select a machine
- step 2: learn how to use a laser engraver
- step 3: find a profitable niche
- step 4: buy materials & design files
- step 5: go to the market
- step 6: pricing
- step 7: grow your business
- Step 8: improve your productivity
Why Start a Laser Engraving Business?
Before we dive into the steps to start a laser engraver business, it is better to know why you should start it. You need to understand the demand and the market to know the potential of the business.
First of all, you can start a small laser engraving/cutting business from your home or garage. It does not require a vast space; a small room or space is more than enough.
Secondly, there is not a massive investment needed for this. Desktop laser machines are pretty affordable, and you can easily make a living through them.
Nowadays, we have seen a boost of customized and unique products in the market. All such products can be made using a laser machine. You can make almost anything using compatible materials. There are tons of ideas you can implement by sitting at your home.
You don’t need special expertise to run a laser machine. All you need to do is learn a few things and master the safety measure. It won’t take much time to be an expert.
There are uncountable laser products being sold in the markets. You can also implement your idea and bring something new or better. There is a massive opportunity out there.
Most importantly, selling laser products is a bit easier compared to other products. The market is huge, and you can sell your products on many platforms and through various channels.
Simply put, a laser engraving and cutting machine is an excellent investment. You can make a living through it. It offers the better and quick ROI you wish. Plus, you have the opportunity to scale it and take it to the next level.
8 Steps to Start a Laser Engraving Business
There are eight essential and main steps for starting a laser engraving business plan. Before you buy anything, read these steps carefully so that you can follow the right path and plan accordingly.
Beginners often struggle after buying the wrong machine, neglecting the prerequisites, selecting the wrong niche, and other things. So, you must have a clear vision of what you want in the end. These steps will help you out in starting a successful laser engraving business from scratch.
Step 1: Select a Machine
There are different types of machines out there, and it becomes difficult for a new person to select the right machine. This is the most important step in starting a laser engraving business because your major investment is the laser machine.
Before we dive into the type of laser engraving and cutting machines, we should understand the relation between power and engraving/cutting.
For engraving, low power is suitable because it offers a very fine spot, which is the best for engraving. If you try to engrave with a high-power machine, the spot will be large, and the results won’t be very fine.
For cutting, the high power of the laser machine is the best. It will take fewer passes and less time to cut the material. A low-power laser is not preferred for cutting.
One more thing that we would like to mention here is the power. People often get confused because a laser machine has several power ratings in the specification. The power that is responsible for cutting and engraving is the optical or output power.
You only need to consider that power while buying the machine. The other power ratings are machine power and module electric power. These give you an idea of electricity consumption.
You might be thinking about which power you should select, the high power or the low power. We will explore that, but it also depends on the type of laser machine you want. So, we will discuss the type of laser machine first and then discuss what laser power you should go with.
For starting a small laser engraving business, the best options are diode laser and CO2 laser. For beginners, we recommend getting a diode laser machine. Then, with the growth of the business, you can also buy a high-power diode laser machine or a CO2 laser machine.
As far as the cost of the machine is concerned, diode laser machines are the most affordable. They only cost about 1/4th of the CO2 laser machine. But they can engrave fewer materials than a CO2 laser machine.
Beginners can start their laser engraving business with the xTool D1 Pro 10W diode laser machine. It can engrave as well as cut with perfection. Later on, they can pick a 5W and 20W diode laser module. The 5W module will give the best results for engraving, and the 20W is ideal for cutting. You can attach these laser modules to the existing D1 Pro; there is no need to buy a new machine.
For covering a wider range of materials, they can also buy the xTool Laserbox Rotary, which is a CO2 laser machine, as their business grows. With all these machines, they can take their laser engraving business to the next level.
Step 2: Learn How to Use a Laser Engraver/Cutter
Having a laser engraving and cutting machine is not enough. You also need to learn how to use the machine and the software, and there are various other things that you need to know. But don’t worry; you can easily grab all these things in a short time.
We are going to list a few things that are important to consider. You should learn about these as much as you can.
a) Materials and Testing
First, you need to know what materials you can engrave with your laser machine. If you are using a diode laser machine, you can engrave solid wood, plywood, glass, coated metals, acrylic, ceramics, paper, etc. Plus, if you are using the 20W laser module of xTool, you can even color engrave on metals.
Using a CO2 laser machine, you can engrave wood, acrylic, glass, leather, cardboard, paper, stone, metal, rubber, food, fabric, etc.
Before you start engraving, you need to do a speed and power test on a piece of that material. It will help you choose the optimal settings for engraving or cutting.
You also need to use the software that can run the machine. xTool machines have dedicated software, which is beginner friendly. You can also use LightBurn with xTool machines. It is an advanced software for experts.
You will need time to learn to use the software, and it is not very complex. Once you start, you will understand things quickly.
Tutorials are quite handy for beginners. xTool has a blog, video tutorials, and detailed guides that you can follow.
Moreover, you can also learn from some laser engraving and cutting YouTube channels. Some of them are Build Dad Build, LA Hobby Guy, and Paw Paw’s Workshop. You can see their videos and follow their tips, tricks, and hacks to get the best results.
You can also join the xTool’s Facebook group, where people share their projects and guide each other. You will get to know a lot, and our moderators will also help you out if you are struggling with anything.
Safety is very important, and you need to take all safety measures before using the machine. Firstly, you should wear protective glasses to keep your eyes safe from the laser. Due to any mishandling, the laser can reflect, so you need to make sure your eyes are safe.
Keep the machine area clear. There shouldn’t be combustible materials near it. Moreover, never leave the machine unattended and keep your children and other people out of the room.
Another important thing is that you should never try a new material before you get to know about its composition and whether it is safe for laser or not.
You also need to make sure there is proper ventilation. Some materials might produce toxic fumes, so you should also know how to filter them and improve the ventilation of the area where you are using the machine.
With all safety measures, you are ready to start the engraving and cutting.
Step 3: Find the Profitable Niche
image credit: emilyandblair.com
People usually ignore selecting a niche, and they try to sell whatever they see. If you want to boost your sales and earn a handsome profit, you need to select the right niche.
There are many niches, such as photo engraving, making customized keychains/gifts, and décor items. These niches are very vast, so you can also narrow them down and pick something that is profitable as well as hot selling.
For instance, you pick the niche of décor items, but as it is a vast niche, you can narrow it down to banners, minimalist décor items, wall hangings, or wall clocks.
You can choose any of the niches or micro-niche to start. But before that, you need to ensure whether there is a market for the product or not.
You can search for similar products on Etsy and other online marketplaces to get an idea of the number of customers and the market. You can also check what local customers are selling in their stores and events. Once you understand the potential of the product, you can start making it.
Step 4: Buy Materials & Design Files
For making any product, you need to buy suitable material. For instance, if you are thinking about creating an engraved photo, you need to select the right plywood that will offer better contrast and has fewer visible grains.
You need to list the products you need for the project. Then, you need to check the online stores, local stores, and markets from where you can buy them. Make sure to check several websites to get the best price. Sometimes, you can get better rates from your local store if there is any clearance sale.
After materials, you also need the design files for the project. Sometimes, there is no need for such files, but most of the time, you need these. There are pre-made design files available, and you can purchase them for your commercial projects. Plus, you can also search for free design file websites.
Here is a short list of websites that you can use for materials and design files.
- HTV/Vinyl: Crafthtv
- Stainless Steel Cups and Powder Coated/Glitter Items: MakerFloCrafts
- Tumblers: Bare Tumblers, Bulk Tumblers
- Leather: Tribal Spirit Music
- Wood, Acrylic, and Other Materials: Maker Stock, Smokey Hill Designs, Woodpeckers
For Design Files:
Step 5: Go to the Market
Selling products is a significantly struggling step in starting a laser business. You can make dozens of products, but if you can’t sell them, your effort is useless.
If you want to sell laser engraving and cutting products, you should leave no stone unturned. It means from online marketplaces to your nearby simple store, you need to try everything.
First, you can try selling products on Etsy. It won’t cost you much to list a product, and then you can make the products once you get orders. Other than Etsy, you can try Amazon, eBay, or anything you can try. If you have a blog or website, you can also promote your products there.
Social media is the best place to kickstart your laser engraving business. You can create a brand-new page and then start promoting your products. With the help of paid advertising, you can gain a lot of customers, given that you know how to use Facebook ads or you have a particular person for that.
Another way to get instant sales at the early stage is through the help of friends and family. You can tell them about your products and ask them to promote them through social media or word of mouth. It will help you sell your products quickly.
You should visit the nearby stores and tell them what you can do with the laser machine. You can make products of their choice as well. Shops, restaurants, and businesses also require such products, so you can also show them your product range and convince them how you can customize products for them.
If there are ten ways to sell products, you should try all ten and look for the 11th one. You need to do everything to sell your products.
Step 6: Pricing
Here comes an important issue of which beginners are not aware. The pricing of the product matters a lot. Obviously, you are a new seller, so you must offer your services at a bit lower rate than existing sellers on the market. It is just a simple strategy to skyrocket sales, but if you want, you can also match the price or set it whatever you want.
First, you need to keep the material cost in mind. You have purchased the material, so make sure how many items you can make from it. After the material cost, you need to add advertising cost, electricity cost, shipping cost, packaging, and whatever the expenses are. You also need to keep in mind that the laser machine you are using is a massive investment, so you also need a return for that.
Once you determine the cost of making the product, you can set a suitable retail and wholesale price. Make sure there is enough margin to cover your own labor cost and machine investment. Try to keep the price as reasonable as possible.
Here is a guide to price your items resonablely to make money with your laser engraver.
Step 7: Grow Your Business
image credit: apac-insider.com
When you want to make a living through the laser engraving and cutting business, you need to grow it gradually. For growth, you need some reliable customers or partners.
If you are making customized gifts and items, you can contact companies and businesses and tell them about the customized gifts and boxes you make. They might ask you for special corporate boxes, keychains, pens, or anything they want.
You can contact nearby schools and show your engraved products. It could be wooden alphabets and numbers, wooden toys, building blocks, DIY toys, etc. Other than that, you can offer them engraved shields, cups, and gifts as well.
Nearby stores also require wall clocks, toys, customized items, décor items, and many other things. You can show your product range and ask about their requirements.
The most reliable customers and partners you have, the more reliable your business will be. You will have a constant income stream.
Step 8: Improve Your Productivity
Once you have reliable customers, a healthy online seller profile, and constant orders to work on, it is time to scale your business. You need more machines to increase productivity.
If you have xTool D1 Pro diode laser machine, you can get a higher power laser module and other accessories, such as extension and rotary attachment. You can also get the infrared laser module to engrave more objects.
You can also get a CO2 laser machine as it is capable of cutting and engraving a wide range of materials. It has the potential to increase your product range. Upgrade your existing machine and buy new ones gradually. You can quickly scale your business and increase productivity.
Starting a laser engraving and cutting business is not extremely complex. If you know the right path to follow, you can start the business on your own. We have explained eight essential steps that are required to start the business. You need to pay attention to every step because each has its distinct importance. These steps give you a clear picture of what you can do, how to do it, and what to expect in the end. Once you grasp all these steps, you are ready to kickstart a successful laser engraving and cutting business right from your home, garage, or shop.