My one man business is growing and I'd like to buy a 3-5kw laser but no idea how... - Page 3
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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scruffy887 View Post
    Go with fiber. Check out what is needed for floor space too. Most likely a shuttle machine so space for that, and space for sheets to lay flat nearby. Also need some safe easy way to load sheets onto the table. I use a vacuum lifter because it works on all metals. I have a tilting lifter so can also pick up sheets that are leaning on my A frame cart. Cart easily holds 30 sheets of 16 gauge 4x10 each side, has slots in the center to store a few sheets of .250 and .375. I have another special cart that allows me to slide these thicker sheets out and lay flat for the vac lifter.
    So you need the laser, dust fume extraction, and supply of Oxy and or Nitrogen. And really handy to have a bridge crane. My crane system actually has a seperate bridge dedicated to the vac lifter.
    Thanks for the advice. A bridge crane would be really nice but do you think a jib crane would be sufficient when supporting a single machine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyanidekid View Post
    Think of it this way, if you are getting charged enough to justify a laser purchase with only 8 hrs a week of cutting, one of three things is possible;

    1) your math is off, check your numbers, are you including all costs (others have listed some but include running electric, cutting expendables and operating expenses such as gasses and electricity, financing, labor, repairs and time learning to run it).

    2) you charge a Huge markup on steel targets.

    3) you’re getting overcharged.

    There are plenty of low volume shops where a 500k fiber laser makes sense, medical, aerospace, high end prototype work, but one shift one day a week of steel targets?

    Have you considered bidding out an order for say 6 months worth of cutting? If you are going to invest up front at least compare.

    Maybe try marketing high definition plasma as a “we pass the savings on to you” proposition?

    Look, I want a fiber laser too, but ya gotta be realistic.
    I think I grossly underestimated my average weekly cut time.

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  4. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I would strongly suggest shopping around and continuing to farm it out.

    You buy a powerful cutting laser and you're primary business is now laser cutting, not selling and supporting your products.

    Used lasers are hard to get your money out of. Not many tales of buying a laser, using it for a few years and then getting 80% investment back.

    I cannot possibly imagine steel target sales continuing to clime forever. I think your situation is a product of the current pandemic environment and your sales will fall off a cliff when people stop getting free money for sitting on their asses.
    Steel Target sales don't necessarily have to climb, just my market share. I've been doing this since 2015 with steadily increasing sales each year. Even in 2020 before any stimulus checks were cut my sales were steadily increasing each month.

    That being said I'd be lying if I didn't fear what you said being the case with a corona bubble in sales. That's also part of the reason behind me wanting to expand. In addition to me wanting to fab additional products beyond steel targets so I can sell to different markets, I'd also have a piece of equipment that I could sell time on if my markets took a significant drop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bondo View Post
    I use to work at a local steel yard and they buy all kinds of good and junk AR plate, guess what they turn them into? Steel targets. They even have a full deer cut out of mild steel and a swinging AR 500 plate at the heart.

    They sell all the AR into customer items but use the remainder or damaged pieces for whatever they can sell.

    In my opinion, and take it as that, you have a great middle man business. I would ride it as long as possible because if the bottom ever falls out on it, you have 0 liabilities. You dont ever need employees, and you dont ever have unwanted expenses.

    One of my food customers is breaking 100 million in sales this year. They have been in business for 15 years. They just built their first processing plant last year. So they were farming it out for that long.


    Also, as another note, you need building space, forklift, electric etc.... ya ya ya, stuff. But you also may not be getting the steel any cheaper. You may end up paying more for it. It all depends on your situation.



    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    Part of me wants to do just as you say. I'm not overly worked and I make decent money (This is my full time job) doing it the way I do now.
    Another part of me however knows that if I'm not working to grow my business, there are people out there who are and will gladly take the market share I've worked to gain. I'd also like to get into other products so that if the bottom falls out of targets I've got other stuff to do. I don't want to go back to working for someone else!

  6. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    The "business" appear to be simply burn and take off of table, right into shipping box.

    As Bondo has mentioned, anyone with a laser/plasma table makes these.

    They will copy your designs, and toss them in the nest for better utilization.
    You're not wrong, making steel targets is easy. The difficult part is selling them all over the country.
    Something I had to get over when figuring what I was going to do for a business was that you don't have to do something nobody else is doing, you just have to do something better than everybody else. That and, you don't have to be the cheapest on the market, that's a losing battle.

  7. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by helocat View Post
    Or people eventually just can’t find anymore ammo. BUT pandemic firearm buyers will continue to stay strong for a bit. 9 MIL new gun owners last yr and growning. If 10% of them stay active and just 3% of them move to regularly enjoying shooting sports on top of the existing market, I would say ya demand will continue to be there.

    If you have vendors delivering on time - (my #1 issue) then negotiate your laser prices. If your on track for over $120k for the next 12 months you vendor will not want to loose you.

    SPACE is the #1 reason I don’t have a laser table. Yrs ago I had a 8x4 plasma table for faster photo work. It was great to have but the amount of space it takes to hold sheets, move sheets and the table itself it a lot. I did the math and our rent was more than the savings having the table provided. Sold it. For a laser with a shuttle we would need a whole new building. We do about $400k per yr in laser and forming, still farming it out but we stay on top of our vendors and use more than one vendor.
    It worries me what I'm not figuring correctly to make it seem so feasible for me. I would need to build a building as well but I want it on my property so I don't have any land costs (plus I want to build a shop anyway). I also lucked out and have 3 phase running right in my ditch (living out of town on an old farm place). I'm looking at $500k ish to build my shed and buy a used laser but if I'm spending 10k a month on laser time that's not a bad ROI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilblackdog View Post
    but if I'm spending 10k a month on laser time that's not a bad ROI.
    But by buying a laser your not saving $10k month, because it's going to cost you $'s to run the laser.

    Before you go down this path you have to completely understand the costs of running/repairing a laser.

    I think your on a fools errand (especially if you've never run a laser before), look for cheaper sources of laser time and material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by triumph406 View Post
    But by buying a laser your not saving $10k month, because it's going to cost you $'s to run the laser.

    Before you go down this path you have to completely understand the costs of running/repairing a laser.

    I think your on a fools errand (especially if you've never run a laser before), look for cheaper sources of laser time and material.
    I get that, but I doubt it costs anywhere near $10k a month to keep one running. I'm just in the preliminary stages of this so I'll definitely get this # locked down.

    Physically running the laser is the least of my concerns.

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    fixing one can easily hit 10K though.

    as for above, something does't add up. 82,000lbs only costs 50K?

    and how thin are these plates? one will easily be 1000lbs or better. something doesn't add up.....

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    I highly recommend a vacuum sheet lifter. I made one for $800 but I'm sure you can buy some okay ones as well.

    I don't see how to handle sheets any other way in an efficient manner.

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    How heavy a plate can a vacuum lifter practically lift? Clearly anything heavier than about 14lb sq in will be infeasible - but do real lifters come close to that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BT Fabrication View Post
    fixing one can easily hit 10K though.

    as for above, something does't add up. 82,000lbs only costs 50K?

    and how thin are these plates? one will easily be 1000lbs or better. something doesn't add up.....
    I was only giving approximate costs for cutting, not the material. That and I think my cut time estimate is way too low. I suppose I can just ask them what the cut time is... just feels wierd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    How heavy a plate can a vacuum lifter practically lift? Clearly anything heavier than about 14lb sq in will be infeasible - but do real lifters come close to that?
    The upper limit of my homemade lifter is 1000 pounds with 8 cups. There is an independent pump and suction gauge that we check on each cup as well as cleaning the sheet and cups prior to lifting plate that heavy. A more typical load is 500 pounds which we just pick up and go all willy nilly.

    If you are concerned, lift the plate onto the exchange table with the forklift and place it on stickers, then just use the cups to lift the sheet enough to remove the stickers.

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    I have 2 cnc plasma cutters and sadly it’s cheaper for me to farm out the cutting to the laser shop. The huge laser shops get a nice break on their bulk steel purchases. They can buy and cut the piece for what I buy the steel for. You need to find a shop that has some buying power.

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    Yes, I've collected parts and debated for years on a DIY Plasma Cutter. I have a laser shop that works so cheap, I don't know how they could make a profit, Still, an in-house Plasma would be very nice for prototype work or just a few pieces now and then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ringleboy26 View Post
    I have 2 cnc plasma cutters and sadly it’s cheaper for me to farm out the cutting to the laser shop. The huge laser shops get a nice break on their bulk steel purchases. They can buy and cut the piece for what I buy the steel for. You need to find a shop that has some buying power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ringleboy26 View Post
    I have 2 cnc plasma cutters and sadly it’s cheaper for me to farm out the cutting to the laser shop. The huge laser shops get a nice break on their bulk steel purchases. They can buy and cut the piece for what I buy the steel for. You need to find a shop that has some buying power.
    I own a laser. I send my files to a laser cutter 1000 yards away and they cut my parts on a 2020 Amada fiber machine for way less than I can buy the steel for. Parts are beautiful.

    Are you really in South Dakota? Arent materials and costs higher there because nobody is there?

    I know I make some products cheaper from large diameter steel barstock because one of 3 giant roundbar warehouses in the US is in portland. I can pick the shit up and the sales man is my best friend's neighbor. Everyone else has to pay trucking plus getting fucked.

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