Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut and mark materials, it used for industrial manufacturing applications and various other applications such as small business, craft and hobby. Laser cutting works by directing the output of a CNC controlled (computer numerical control) high-power laser to cut, mark, engrave or etch the desired image or output.

Getting Started
To start this business you need a laser cutter or laser cutting machine. These machines range from small desktop models to large industrial units.

Business Model
This is quite an interesting business because you can offer laser cutting as a service or make and sell products made using a laser cutter.

Laser cutting as a service
Here the client brings you the material to be cut or engraved as well as the artwork – usually in vector format (.eps, .ai, .svg or even CorelDRAW .cdr). The client is then charged a rate for the cutting (usually based on the amount of time it took to cut the material).
Materials that can be cut this way include
Perspex (acrylic sheet) usually for signage, but laser cut acrylic is used for many other uses as well.
Mild steel, carbon steel and stainless steel
Density board, organic board

Laser cut Perspex

Laser cut Perspex

Laser cutting as part of a product business
Here you create products using a laser cutter: toys, coasters, craft supplies, wooden products etc. and then resell that product.

Products & Services
When offering this as a service you have the choice to offer two types of services:
Cutting and Marking (engraving and etching falls under marking). Cutting involves cutting the material into shapes, through and through; marking on the other hand does not cut all the way through the material, but instead is used to put letters and designs onto the material. Some companies offer both, others only offer one or the other. It is up to you to decide which product mix you go with.

Laser Cutting – This involves cutting the material into shapes

Laser Marking – Often used to mark items with serial numbers

Laser Etching – Used to create designs on a surface

Laser Engraving – Use to create text and other shapes on a surface

Target Market
This business has many applications and broad use. Practically you will be limited to what your machine is capable of (cutting size and depth), many people with small machines focus on the craft market cutting thousands of those little wooden trinkets while people with larger machines focus on the business and industrial market.

Resources
Business Model Service, Manufacturing
Equipment Laser Cutter
Training  Mastering RDworks / RDcam and Chinese Laser machine
Industry Cutting & Marking

Image credits: woodguide.org, rock-shoppe.com, soulcraftcle.org, epiloglaser.com


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