My one man business is growing and I'd like to buy a 3-5kw laser but no idea how...
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    Default My one man business is growing and I'd like to buy a 3-5kw laser but no idea how...

    In 2020 I spent $72,000 just for laser time (not material) and so far this year my gross sales are up 75%. I'm still running the financials to make sure it all makes sense but I'd like to get some more info on purchasing industrial equipment like this.

    1. Should I purchase new or used? I typically only cut 5-10 sheets of 1/4" - 1/2" material each week so I was thinking used.

    2. Do you try to purchase used direct from the manufacturer or are there other reputable sites? Auction? I'm pretty technically inclined with a background in engineering but I don't need a new chore babysitting a machine that's always breaking down.

    Any other input you may have is certainly welcome. I'm not in the general fabrication business, I make a product that I sell directly to consumers and dealers.

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    I'd steer clear of used. Lasers can cost a lot in maintenance and being they are very expensive to move and install companies typically don't replace a laser that isn't giving them problems.

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    Good point but there's got to be a fair number of companies that just end up going out of business no?
    My local fab shop uses Trumpf lasers and I see that they do sell used factory refurbished ones. Perhaps that's the way to go instead of just buying some random used laser?

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    Looked that up quick, seems they offer a warranty. So that could be a good option for you.

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    Do you have staff to work on that laser
    Staff costs money too Even if it is you

    Peter

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    Would it make sense to automate the loading/unloading so that you get more throughput?

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilblackdog View Post
    In 2020 I spent $72,000 just for laser time (not material) and so far this year my gross sales are up 75%. I'm still running the financials to make sure it all makes sense but I'd like to get some more info on purchasing industrial equipment like this.

    1. Should I purchase new or used? I typically only cut 5-10 sheets of 1/4" - 1/2" material each week so I was thinking used.

    2. Do you try to purchase used direct from the manufacturer or are there other reputable sites? Auction? I'm pretty technically inclined with a background in engineering but I don't need a new chore babysitting a machine that's always breaking down.

    Any other input you may have is certainly welcome. I'm not in the general fabrication business, I make a product that I sell directly to consumers and dealers.

    Can the parts be cut with a lower accuracy machine ?

    I'm thinking Hi-Def Plasma.

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    We went used and regret it. The machine works fine, but it was months of our time to get everything right.

    We learned after our purchase that Amada has excellent financing.

    We also looked at another lower cost laser that I can't remember the name of but we couldn't get the $220k financing that we needed for the 3kw model. I can find the name for you.

    CO2 lasers work but they are power hungry and annoying, You need laser gas and chiller power and dust collector power, whereas the newer machines are trending towards one circuit to feed the laser and everything runs off of that.

    Running 300, 150, and 60 amp circuits plus three transformers was a nightmare compared to the single 200 amp 208V circuit a fiber laser would have needed.



    We are looking to upgrade as soon as we hit the ROI on this machine. Which to be fair it works fine, and we are picky, but we wouldn't do it again. Especially not for a one man shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strostkovy View Post
    We went used and regret it. The machine works fine, but it was months of our time to get everything right.

    We learned after our purchase that Amada has excellent financing.

    We also looked at another lower cost laser that I can't remember the name of but we couldn't get the $220k financing that we needed for the 3kw model. I can find the name for you.

    CO2 lasers work but they are power hungry and annoying, You need laser gas and chiller power and dust collector power, whereas the newer machines are trending towards one circuit to feed the laser and everything runs off of that.

    Running 300, 150, and 60 amp circuits plus three transformers was a nightmare compared to the single 200 amp 208V circuit a fiber laser would have needed.



    We are looking to upgrade as soon as we hit the ROI on this machine. Which to be fair it works fine, and we are picky, but we wouldn't do it again. Especially not for a one man shop.
    Thanks for the feedback, it appears that fiber lasers are the way to go if you can afford one. I'll just have to decide how much I want to spend. This year I'm on track to spend $125k on laser time so unless the bottom drops out the ROI is pretty decent. Especially considering I only have about 8 hours of cut time per week (roughly estimated).

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Can the parts be cut with a lower accuracy machine ?

    I'm thinking Hi-Def Plasma.
    It's not so much an accuracy issue but I sell AR500 steel targets and through the wonder of marketing Laser cut targets are considered superior.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allloutmx View Post
    Would it make sense to automate the loading/unloading so that you get more throughput?
    I'll have to see the space requirements and cost. On one hand it'll be a nice feature but on the other only have around 8 hours of cut time per week so I'm not sure the money spent on that specifically is necessary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter from Holland View Post
    Do you have staff to work on that laser
    Staff costs money too Even if it is you

    Peter
    I don't have any staff now but I will need some eventually at the rate I'm growing. This year I'm on track to spend $125k on laser time and my cuts take roughly 8 hrs/week so I don't foresee it being a huge time sink for me with a great return. Then the money I save can go to hiring someone to do it for me as well as other things and still have room for additional profit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilblackdog View Post
    I don't have any staff now but I will need some eventually at the rate I'm growing. This year I'm on track to spend $125k on laser time and my cuts take roughly 8 hrs/week so I don't foresee it being a huge time sink for me with a great return. Then the money I save can go to hiring someone to do it for me as well as other things and still have room for additional profit.

    8 Hours cutting time is 12 hours on the job probably
    That should mean you are picking your nose now a day and a half each week ???
    Or you plan to work 12 more hours ???
    Or leave some other jobs unattended??
    Only you can do the math

    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilblackdog View Post
    I'll have to see the space requirements and cost. On one hand it'll be a nice feature but on the other only have around 8 hours of cut time per week so I'm not sure the money spent on that specifically is necessary.
    maybe I interpreted your OP incorrectly. I read this as if you already owned a laser and were looking for additional equipment. After reading this reply and re-reading your OP it sounds like you want to bring the work in house instead of farming it out- and need advice on your initial purchase?

    8hrs a week x 52 weeks and costing you 125k this year means your spending $300 an hr on laser time? Holy hell. I know EDM guys cheaper than that

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    Alloutmx hit on a key point.

    There's what the laser will cost to run, vs what you buy it for. Since you talk about numbers penciling out, it seems likely you grok this.

    Which is why a new machine, or refurbed machine with warranty, is likely a better story. It's apparently your first laser, it's not like some expert buying some old machine and making it work. You need to control random unexpected side costs. ("I need a permit from Who? for What??? It will take up How Much floor space?" and "The What??? broke???" "I'm supposed to clean the lens with Urglefarp? Where do I get Urglefarp?" <at home depot it turns out, but it will cause stress until you know that>...)

    On the other hand, is there a business in getting some custom drawing of some sort from the customer ("outline of your favorite game animal!"), quickly make sure it's not problematic (no, profiles of Presidents are not allowed) then program and cut it. Collect rush fees and go faster.

    It's like with a milling machine - yes it takes up X space. But you have to add someplace to mix coolant, someplace to store material, someplace to build and store tools, someplace to store the workholding. Where to put the chips. Yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda....

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    We have a Trumpf 3030 fiber machine that runs 2 shifts a day and half a shift on Sat. Our previous laser was also a Trumpf CO2 and was run by our same department lead. He claims the fiber machines are a lot less "needy" than the CO2s were. This is a 5kw machine with auto loader. It takes up a lot of floorspace, but we crank a lot of metal through the machine. While it's pretty reliable, it's something you need to be more proactive about than you would with say your average VMC. Also, in addition to what has been noted as far as electrical requirements, there is the issue of consumables, cutting gases, programming support, and material storage. Whichever way you go, there's going to be a learning curve associated with it, and you're going to have to allocate or develop support resources in the feeding and care of categories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilblackdog View Post
    It's not so much an accuracy issue but I sell AR500 steel targets and through the wonder of marketing Laser cut targets are considered superior.
    You've-GOT-TO-Be-kidding....

    So get a plasma, slap a maker name like "Black Dog Laser" on the side of it.

    Brite light, who could tell the diff ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    You've-GOT-TO-Be-kidding....

    So get a plasma, slap a maker name like "Black Dog Laser" on the side of it.

    Brite light, who could tell the diff ?
    Or get a waterjet and advertise you have NO HAZ like those slap dicks that use heat to cut the material.

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    Wait, how much of that laser cost is material cost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strostkovy View Post
    Wait, how much of that laser cost is material cost?
    This was going to be my question as well. You aren't supplying the material and paying that much right?


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