Q? How much does it cost to run a project? What is a cost of the prototype and what is a production cost?
A. Our cost structure is based on the following:
Total Cost = $Files + $Laser Processing + $Material + $Shipping
Files: $75/Hr for file(s) set up. In general it takes no more than an hour to review and set laser files.
We also provide design assistance if customer does not have files. It may take longer than an hour to produce new files for the customer.
Laser Processing: $120/Hr processing the laser cutting and engraving
Material Cost: $$$ – Cost of the material is added only if we provide the material for laser cutting . The cost of material is dropped if customers provides the material.
Shipping: $ – Cost of shipping is dropped if customers provides their shipping account # with FedEx.
Potential additional charges may include special handling, assembly, special packaging etc.
Minimum cost of the laser cutting project is estimated at $195 ( $75, files + $120, 1 Hr of laser processing)
We accept the following file formats for laser cutting:
- DXF compatible with AutoCAD version 2014 or earlier
- DWG compatible with AutoCAD version 2014 or earlier
- AI version CS5 or earlier
We can also convert your laser cut files for you:
- Our conversion rate is $75 per hour.
- Just contact us with your particular file format and we’ll let you know if it’s possible.
- If you need us to create a file for you, please see “setting up a sketch” or contact us.
Please set up your file as follows:
- Laser Cut lines — Draw thin, black lines where you want the laser to cut; the laser will cut down the center of your lines. In CorelDRAW, the lines should be “Hairlines”. In TurboCAD, the line thickness should be 0. In other programs, be sure the cut lines are 0.003 inches wide or less.
- Size reference — Include and label a one-inch square size reference in your file.
- Laser Cut Layout — Be sure to leave at least 0.05″ between adjacent parts in your layout for materials thicker than 1/4″, adjacent parts should be no closer together than the material thickness). If you need a different layout area, we can use any sheet size up to 51″ x 63″ that can be cut from a 48″ x 96″ sheet, in which case the layout must have at least a 1/4″ border all the way around.
- AutoCAD files for laser cutting — If you are drawing your parts in AutoCAD, be sure the file is purely two-dimensional.
- Send only one file — The file should include one copy of each unique part with indications of how many of each you need, and the material from which each should be cut. This information can either be text in the file, or explained in the description section of the quote request form. Please make sure to leave enough space around every part so that we can easily select them by dragging a rectangle around them.
- Line sharing a common practice for laser cutting— When setting up a layout that includes line sharing (two parts right next to each other so that they share a single cut line), please be sure to delete any redundant copies of lines. This is very important. If you have lines stacked on top of each other, though you might not be able to see them in your file, the laser cutter will see the paths and end up cutting twice along the same line, degrading the final part (and possibly causing melting or warping).
- Multiple files — If you must send more than one file, please zip them and submit them in separate quote requestforms. Please explain the materials and quantities you would like for each file in the description section of the quote request form.
- Adjust for laser kerf — You may want to adjust for the kerf (the thickness of the laser beam), which is about 0.002″ to 0.01″, depending on type of material that is laser cut . (The laser centers itself on the lines you draw and takes off about 0.001″- 0.005″ of material from either side of the lines.) For example, if you would like the hole in your part to have a diameter of roughly 1.0″, you should draw a hole with a diameter of 0.99″. If you would like a circular part with a diameter of about 3.0″, draw a circle with a 3.01″ diameter. (These numbers are approximate and can vary depending on the material and its thickness.) In CAD programs, this can be achieved using an offset of 0.005″.
- Acceptable Small Details for laser cutting — Small details should be no smaller than material thickness. For example, if you are laser cutting a spider web pattern from 1.5 mm acrylic, the thin pieces of plastic that make up the web must be no thinner than 1.5 mm wide in your drawings. Note that the laser beam thickness will cause the final piece to have webs that are slightly less than 1.5 mm wide. We can attempt to laser cut thinner pieces than this general rule of thumb allows, but the part will likely warp and be very fragile.
- Text for laser cutting or engraving— Text should be converted from a font to line art (often called breaking apart text to lines or polylines” in CAD, or “converting text to curves” or “create outlines” in other drawing programs). Please “un-group” your text as well. Otherwise, if we do not have the font you are using, our programs will substitute your font with a different one.
Please set up your file as follows:
- Vector-engraved lines for laser process — Vector engraving files should be saved as PDF, DXF, Dwg, Ai, etc. Use a vector engraving file when very precise laser engraving is needed. Please be sure to “ungroup” the individual elements within your vector files before sending. Also, be careful to not have two of the same line shape over top of each other… Otherwise, the laser will “double-cut” this area.
- Laser Raster-engraved areas — Raster engraving files can be saved in two ways: “black and white bit map raster files”, and “256 color grayscale raster files”. Use a “black and white bitmap raster file” when a solid tone is needed to be laser engraved. Use a “256 grayscale raster file” when a multi-tonal or photographic laser engraving is needed.
- Laser Engraving depths — We can vary the laser speed and power to change engraving depths. We will do our best to engrave any depths you specify but we cannot guarantee any particular accuracy with engraving depths. Laser Raster and vector engraving are best for making cosmetic markings and are not suitable making mechanical grooves or features with precise depths.
- First surface and Second surface of laser engraving — We can laser engrave clear and transparent plastic ( acrylic, i.e. plexiglass) from the front (first surface) or back (second surface) of the material. Mirrored acrylic is typically laser engraved on the back (the matte gray side) so that when you look at the piece from the front or mirrored side, you can see the engraved areas that have been laser etched into the mirror film on the back.
- Laser engraved Text — Text for engraving should be converted from a font to a vector format (often called “breaking apart text to lines or polylines” in CAD, or “converting text to curves”, or “create outlines” in other drawing programs etc.). Be sure to fill the line-art text black and remove any outlines unless they are to be laser engraved.
- Files with laser cutting, and laser vector engraving — We can laser cut, and vector engrave a design all as a single job. All images, lines, text, etc. to be vector engraved should be a part of the same file as the cutting file. You do not need to split the laser cutting and laser engraving among different files.
- You can send us your idea via a scanned hand drawing or you can draw up a rough sketch on a computer in any file type that we can read.
- The file could be a text file with a written description, or you can create it using Word, Paint, or Excel, etc. and save as (JPG, GIF, BMP, PDF).
- If you would like us to draw or set up your file on the computer for you, you will need to prepare a mock-up of your design or a send us a written description of the design that you need.
Please follow these guidelines when preparing your mock-up file for laser processing:
- Written descriptions should include all sizes of parts, quantities required, and material types and colors for each.
- Mock-ups and scans should include all relevant dimensions (be sure indicate the units of measure you are using).
- Please try as much as possible to make your drawings to scale (please include a 1″ x 1″ square for reference).
- When showing the location of a hole, please specify the distances from the hole’s center to the nearby shapes or edges of the part.
- Include the quantity required for each part needed.
- If you need to send more than one file, please zip the files or ask for our FTP site info.