Running a business based on a laser engraver can be quite lucrative if done correctly. Finding out how to make money with a laser engraver doesn’t take much effort, as there are various business ideas you can potentially go for.
All you need to get started is a laser engraver machine, some things to engrave, and a solid business plan. And in some cases, you can even forego the laser engraver itself – for example, if you want to offer auxiliary services such as repairs and maintenance.
Laser Engraver Business Ideas
Before you decide on the equipment you want to buy, you should figure out what exactly you want to do with your laser engraver. There are several general options available, and some of them don’t even require owning a laser engraver – you can work on other people’s machines, troubleshooting technical issues and supplying them with parts.
1 – Engraving Service
The most straightforward way to make money with a laser engraver is to take items from people and engrave them on demand. This can be done with a variety of products, including:
- Phone covers
- Cutting boards
The way this typically works is that you’d get the items that are to be engraved, along with instructions for the engraving itself, and then you’d use your engraver to produce the desired results. Sometimes your customer won’t provide the artwork themselves. It can be useful to spend some money on your own artwork for engraving if you want to be able to satisfy those customers as well.
Sometimes you won’t be tasked with engraving art but text and other similar designs. While this might seem like an easier option, it also comes with some requirements of its own. Most importantly, you should have a good variety of fonts available to suit every occasion.
You must also have a good enough laser engraver to handle all types of artwork that people will order from you. Some will require more precise machines, making it important to invest more in a high-end engraver if you want to capture a larger part of the market.
2 – Selling Laser Engraved Products
You can also take this one step further and sell your own laser engraved products. This option provides more freedom as you won’t be limited to the items your customers want to get engraved. At the same time, it places the full procurement responsibility on you. You must be able to source both the items and the art that will be engraved on them.
While you should do your best to offer a diverse range of products to your customers, you should also attempt to specialize in a niche as early as you can. This will draw in a more dedicated crowd of customers in the long term, and will allow you to market yourself better.
You can reference the list from the previous point for some ideas for things you can specialize in. In general, try to focus on items you can procure easily and cheaply. If you don’t have a good connection established yet, try looking around the market a little more before you settle on a specific product.
Otherwise, it can get very expensive to maintain a reasonable inventory of items for engraving. It’s okay if you want to sell some items occasionally, just to probe the market – but if you want to make this a long-term venture, you should start by building partnerships with suppliers.
3 – Selling Laser Engraving Parts and Materials
If you don’t want to do any laser engraving yourself, you still have a few options available. One is to sell parts for laser engravers, and materials/items for engraving.
The first category requires some knowledge of laser engravers and the general market for them. You’ll have to learn what types of engravers are currently popular, which of them are used for commercial applications the most, and how to source parts for all of them.
You must also have a reasonable amount of storage space, as all these parts can take up a lot of room and they will add up fast. Ideally, you should store them in a dedicated location instead of scattering them around your home.
If you want to sell laser engraving materials and items, that’s much easier. Just scout the market for what’s currently hot and focus on stocking up on items of that type. You should initially focus on a smaller, ideally local, subset of the market that you can serve easily and without spending too much on shipping fees.
You must also be able to offer something that people can’t get elsewhere at the same price, which can be a challenge with the internet. If someone is running a laser engraver business and they want to stock up on leather wallets (for example), why would they buy them from you if they can get a better deal for buying in bulk from a specialized store?
4 – Repairing Laser Engraving Machines
Even the best engraver for small business use will eventually need some repairs and maintenance. If you have a knack for machines and electronics, you can make a good living offering repair and maintenance services to other entrepreneurs.
This is a more complicated business model because it will either require you to travel to perform your repairs on-site – which will limit your range of clients – or have machines delivered to you, repair them, and send them back. The second option can end up very expensive if you’re not adequately prepared.
You should also take out insurance if you’re planning to go with that model. Otherwise, you risk being held liable for any additional damage you cause to the machines you’re trying to repair. Given the average price of a laser engraver, that can be a costly mistake.
Costs to Maintain the Business
When running a laser engraver business, there are various costs you can anticipate. Not all of those are relevant to every business model, but you should revisit this list every now and then if you’re planning to make any changes to the way you work.
- Laser engraver – naturally, you’ll need a laser engraver to offer engraving services. The price range is quite wide, so you should take the time to research the market carefully.
- Software – depending on what you want to engrave, you will also have to invest in various software solutions, mostly design programs.
- Materials and items – you’ll need a steady supply of things to engrave. Ideally, you should offer a consistent selection of products, which means ordering a large volume of the same type of item.
- Engraver parts – your laser engraver will need maintenance from time to time, and you should stock up on the various parts required for repairs and replacements. This is essential if you’re running a laser engraver repair business.
- Marketing – no business can survive long without dedicated marketing. This means that you should invest some money into promoting your services and acquiring new customers.
- Accounting and legal – these two are generally a good idea when running any type of business. Having your own accountant will save you a lot of time and money as you won’t have to do your own taxes and you’ll discover various tricks for reducing them. Legal advice is always useful when selling physical products of any kind.
So, in the end, can you make money with a laser engraver? Definitely – but it requires some preparation and a careful examination of the current market. You need to identify viable trends and niches that haven’t been oversaturated yet, and you must also bring a unique angle to the table.
Depending on the exact type of product you want to sell, this can be a very crowded market with a lot of competition, requiring a careful approach.