7 Top Tips
Buying a Laser Engraving Machine
Buying a laser engraving machine is a long-term investment. From the type of laser required for your business to establishing warranty and support guarantees, there are many factors to consider before finalising a purchase. We’ve set out 7 of our top tips for buying a laser engraving machine to make sure you make the right choice for you and your business.
Laser engraving or laser cutting?
1. Focus on the core application
It is easy to be allured by how many other applications a machine can perform. A good all-rounder is a compromise machine in almost every aspect. Just because a machine can cut as well as engrave doesn’t mean it can do both functions very well. Machines designed for a specific purpose will always perform the core application better so it should be no surprise that a laser cutter will cut better than a laser engraver and vice versa.
How many parts are produced per hour?
2. Throughput is key to commercial success
Speed of production is of paramount importance even if right now your business volume is low. Higher throughput gives the opportunity to lower your sales price, increase your margin and deliver faster, too. These three elements are key to growing your laser engraving business.
3. Consider the true cost of ownership
A laser engraving machine is a long-term investment; however, most buyers focus primarily on the purchase price. The real cost of a machine should be judged by the cost of ownership over its entire working lifetime, which for a good machine will be approximately 10 years. Commonly, cheap machines cost far more to own by way of replacement parts, excessive maintenance and lower output quality/productivity. The best indicator for a high cost of ownership is a machine built with consumable components, so be wary of sales hype such as ‘easy to change’ or ‘cheap to fix’.
4. Technology first, brand second
We often see whole workshops installed with rows of the same branded laser engraving machines, simply because the buyer has made a purchase based on brand loyalty over technical know-how. If a brand can supply the right machine for the job then brand loyalty certainly has many advantages, however, performance of the technology should be a bigger priority.
If we all stuck to brand-only purchases then we’d be carrying Nokia or Motorola phones in our pockets even today. It’s often newer and sometimes smaller companies that deliver innovation, simply because they have to in order to enter a market or even to survive. Before you buy, take a good look at what else is available from the lower profile brands before you consider buying what you are used to. A look beyond page #1 of Google can save you a small fortune.
Do your research
5. Buy from a reputable supplier
You would expect most providers of machinery to understand the product they are selling but this should never be taken for granted. Before buying, push the salesperson to test their knowledge of the product, including how it functions and especially their knowledge of applications. Don’t settle for a preset demo that’s been tried/tested by the manufacturer.
If the salesperson does not understand your application, how can they recommend an appropriate system configuration? Remember that many salespeople will try to sell you what they want to sell, rather than what you should be buying. It is unfortunately all too common that we see companies using the wrong tool for the job because they were misinformed.
6. Look carefully at warranties
The only guarantee that you can rely upon is that nothing lasts forever: all machines will fail at some point. The more successful you are then the harder your laser engraving machine will work and the more likely it is that it will suffer a fault. If you are fortunate enough to be successful there is never a good time to have a machine fail.
When a failure occurs you want to know how quickly it can be fixed and what the overall cost will be, so look carefully at the small-print of system warranties and look even closer at the support resources of the supplier. If you can, talk to a support technician or two as well as the salesperson as these types of people often speak very differently about the same product.
Remember the Key Three
7. Functionality, Affordability, Reliability
Lastly, it’s important to remember the core fundaments to a good system design is a careful balance of functionality, affordability and reliability.
A system that is more functional is often by default less affordable and can actually be less reliable. A system that is more affordable is by default less functional and can also be less reliable. Logically, an average machine will be a happy medium of all of these things but an average machine will most likely deliver no more than average results.
It’s therefore of vital importance to ‘buy right’ and choose a system that can deliver to the demands of today with a percentage of ability to cover some of the demands of tomorrow.
This consideration is not just about laser power or laser marking speed, it’s also about software capabilities, too. Today you may need to mark text and logo but tomorrow you may need to laser mark barcodes, for example.
Don’t buy a Ferrari if you have 3 kids to take to school and don’t buy a Nissan Micra if you want to race along the German Autobahn. If you need to do both then in this analogy you need two different machines. The same is often true for a good laser engraving workshop.
Whether you’re an industrial manufacturer or small business we have solutions to help you mark around curved and complex surfaces. From laser etching gin glasses to marking suspension parts, our laser machines are designed to do it all.