Frequently Asked Questions About Laser Engraving

TOP 10 MOST ASKED QUESTIONS:

  1. A finished vector file or high resolution image is needed to be able to give a quote. I am an architect and can help create any design file (2d or 3d), however, a $50 per hour design fee is changed if files are not ready. Some products include design services, however, most are limited to editing and some design. I am always happy to help, only intricate design and complicated editing is charged by the hour.
  2. The turnaround time depends on the final design and time. Business cards take around 3-4 minutes each and invitations 5-6 minutes each. If each invitation would take 5 minutes, the total time for 500 units would be around 40 hours which would be 1 week. I could possibly have them finished in less time by working longer hours for rush orders. I do charge a 15% fee for rush orders as things can and frequently do go wrong in rush orders.
  3. I am not able to cut or engrave metal (at least not yet, hopefully by early 2017 we will have machines set up for cutting metal).
  4. I am not able to print in color on acrylic or wood, only laser engrave / laser etch our materials. I can only print on paper / card stock. Only for larger quantities we can screen print, which involves burning a custom screen to be able to print acrylic or wood in color. Each screen can do one color, if you have several colors several screens need to be burned. Each screen is $60 extra.
  5. I do not engrave products or materials that we do not supply or create. I only cut and engrave products we make or that we can make using our materials. For example I do not engrave guns, wallets, bags or anything that we can not make. Reason is if things go wrong, we cannot be responsible for damaging your property.
  6. The maximum size is 24″ x 18″. We do have a 48″ x 96″ CNC router that can cut larger sheets, but the maximum we can engrave and laser cut is 24″ x 18″.
  7. We have limited capacity and are not a company that is mass production ready. For example, it may take a few weeks to make 1000 invitations. Each invitation can take up to 10 minutes each.
  8. We do offer volume discounts, however, with laser engraving we have a maximum amount we can do per hour. Each unit takes as long to engrave, regardless of quantity. We usually calculate an hourly rate divided by the amount of invitations we can make per hour to give you a unit price.

The 5 most frequently asked questions are.

  1. For all custom orders I will need a finished file to give a quote. I receive a large amount of calls requesting a quote, unfortunately, since there are a number of factors I will need to see the files first (which can be sent through the contact form below). I prefer emails as I can come back to them for all the details. I run a small business and have many orders at a time, email helps keep orders organized and reduces the chance of mistakes or miscommunication. Of course, I would be happy to speak to you on the phone to discuss your project once I have your project description and files, however, I just can not give a quote over the phone as I will need to review your files and calculate time and materials. If you do not have a design we offer custom design services starting at $50 per hour with a 1 hour minimum.
  2. I do not cut or engrave any type of metal. Hopefully this will be an option in early 2017. At the moment we only cut wood (max 1/4″), acrylic (max 1/4″), paper and cotton fabric only.
  3. Turnaround time is typically 4-7 days, depending on the quantity.  The total time is calculated by multiplying the number of units ordered by 4 minutes for business cards or 6 minutes for invitations (6 minutes on average, some may take longer each). For example 200 invitations would be 200 x 6 = 1200 minutes/60 = 20 hours (or 3-4 days). I typically start on a project within 2-3 days. Shipping takes 2 days. Total time on average is approximately 1 week. If the order needs to be rushed I can work longer hours, an additional 20% fee is charged for rush orders as things can and frequently do go wrong.
  4. I can do small orders, but there is a $50 minimum order. Set up can be time consuming. I frequently work on small jobs that are not complicated, however, the setup can be tedious and the time can take over an hour to make it from start to finish, even thought it is a small job.
  5. We do not “print” in color. Color is not an option for anything laser engraved. Laser engraving is where the machine burns away / etches away material to create the effect shown in all images. It is not ink but rather a permanent etching in the material. On acrylic the etching is a frosted whitish color and on wood it is a dark brown color. The great thing about the etching is that it becomes part of the design instead of just printed on it. Light shines through the etching which illuminates it for a bright and unique effect.

If you would like to discuss a project please feel free to call me (Mathew) at 210.702.7789, please do submit the project first through our contact form or email so I have a better understanding of your project when I speak to you.

Q: I want to engrave something. I don’t have a finished design yet, but looking for a ballpark estimate.
A: This is probably our most common question and to be able to answer that we need quite a bit more information. We have a lot of options available and pricing has many factors. Normally what works best is to see what the budget is for a project and go from there. It comes down to time and settings. We can go as high as 1200 dpi for extremely high resolution projects and go all the way down  to 150 dpi for faster speeds and lower resolution for other projects where the absolute highest resolution was not a must (even at lower resolution engraving can look great). Depending on budget and desired resolution we can get a few tests made that could accommodate your requests. Besides resolution, power and speed are a factor. Higher power / lower speeds gives a darker engraving while quicker jobs using higher speeds on the laser result in lighter engraving. As a rough number, business cards are $2 each, invitations are about $10 and signs are around $50 for something that size with great resolution and contrast. However, we have done invitations that took up to 45 minutes each for clients that wanted the highest resolution and best contrast and depth possible.
Information we need for a quote:
  • Material type: wood type (for example birch, bamboo or walnut), acrylic (and color, for example clear or matte black), card stock (and color / type). Other options are available upon request.
  • Material Thickness: most common is 1/16″ thick, 1/8″ thick or 1/4″ thick
  • Dimensions of product needed (for example 5″ wide x 7″ high)
  • If available an image of the design (we can help design something or put a design together from elements you wish to include)
  • An indication of budget so we can adjust settings accordingly and show options.
An exact quote without this information is very complicated as there are a lot of variables. We can work with a budget to get you the best possible product that would fit your needs.

Q: What is the turnaround time for 100 invitations?
A: Using past invitations as a reference we typically complete invitations in quantities of 100 within about one week (however, every invitation is unique and takes a different mount of time). We do take deadlines into consideration and are able to expedite orders if needed. We have completed 100 invitations within 2 days in the past by working 18+ hour days. For expedited orders requiring us to work longer hours will have some additional fees.

Q: What is the largest size of material you can cut using your laser engraver?
A: The maximum size is 24″ x 18″ and a thickness of about 1/4″ for most materials. We can engrave on materials thicker than 1/4″ but cutting through is not possible. For example engraving on a wooden box with a height of 10″ would not be a problem.

Q: Can you cut through thin steel or Aluminum?
A: With the machine we currently have we are not able to cut through metals, however we are able to engrave on steel and aluminum. We are able to order custom metal plates or cards that we can engrave on. Contact us with exact details for orders using steel, aluminum or other metal.

Q: What materials can you cut?
A: We are able to cut and engrave a large variety of materials including most woods, acrylic and fabric. We will publish a materials list with examples as soon as possible.

Q: What materials are you not able to cut?
A: We do not cut PVC and any other material that releases chlorine gas when exposed to heat. Not only is is very toxic it also damages our machine.

Q: I want to engrave a sign with my favorite sports team. Is that possible?
A: We unfortunately are not able to engrave professional sports teams as we could become liable for copyright infringement. Unless of course you are the owner of that sports team and own the right to use the image. But in most cases we are not allowed to infringe on copyrighted images, logos, slogans, etc. By submitting your design for us to engrave you agree to our terms of service that the artwork is your own or you own the right to use and distribute those images. We will not be held responsible for infringement of copyrighted materials.

If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us below. The contact form will send me an email directly.

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