How Do We Price Laser Engraving Jobs, Products and Services?

Dec 22, 2019 | Engraving Services | 3 comments

price laser engraving jobs

For every inquiry we receive from prospective customers about our services or products, the first question is always “How do you price laser engraving jobs?” Many times we don’t provide a conclusive answer immediately as we also think it’s necessary to first understand the nature of the job. Secondly, we have to consider all of the valuables in providing a service or producing a product to calculate the net cost of manufacturing.

We price laser engraving jobs or laser engraved products based on several pricing formulas. Before a customer concludes that our services are expensive or cheap, I feel it’s crucial to appreciate the various processes we go through and the materials we use to get the work done.

How Do We Then Price Laser Engraving Jobs?

In this blog post, I would like to discuss some of the pricing formulas we use, some of which have been historical aspects of the engraving industry. They have been carried over from the past years. I do believe that discussing them here, it will act as a reference point for our customers to better understand how we go about our work. They include the following:

  • Job-run time
  • Per character
  • Square inch
  • Layout charge
  • Special processes
  • Keystone pricing
  • Flat pricing
  • Pricing as marketing

We Price Laser Engraving Jobs Based on Job-Run Time

Our laser system has a built-in clock intended to ascertain the run time of the job. I believe many other modern laser engraving machines have it. We use this clock to price our laser engraving jobs or engraved products.

make laser-cut wedding cards

Laser-Cut Wedding Card

Laser-Cut Wedding Card

For instance, we charge an equivalent of USD 0.50 (UGX 1,850/=) for producing a wedding invitation card whose machine-cutting time is 8 to 10 minutes. It means that our job-run time for a wedding card is USD 0.063 (UGX 230/=). It, therefore, follows that if you select a card design that takes 4 minutes to cut it, you spend USD 0.25 ( UGX 930/=).

If we consider other processes involved in making cards like adding card embellishments, printing a text card insert and human labour, the cost goes up a bit to like USD 1.00 (UGX 3700/=)  and USD 0.50 (UGX 1,850/=) for an invitation wedding card with a job-run time of 8 and 4 minutes respectively.

Using the job-run time concept, it means that if we set our charge at USD 0.063 per minute for cutting wedding cards, and you bring a job with a run time of one hour, it implies that our laser system generates USD 3.78 per hour.

Pricing Engraving Jobs Based on Per Character

With wordy engraving projects, we price based on the per-character concept. For instance, 3D letters fall best into this per character concept. We charge USD 10.81 (UGX 40,000/=) for making a 3D letter with a height of 10cm to 15cm. The bigger the letter the higher the charge per character.

On many other wordy projects, we avoid using the per character concept because the pricing is somehow prohibitive. For instance, if someone brings a material to engrave on it some text of 50 words, it’s not prudent to consider this method. So we use other pricing concepts.

Square Inch Pricing Method

Charging our laser engraving jobs based on square inches is one of our most prefered pricing concepts. It’s because it’s easy for us to figure out the cost by getting to know the size of the material and layout. We measure the material to determine the average job-run time based on the engraving area.

If the job also involves cutting, we may determine the price based on two concepts: square inch concept for raster engraving and job-run time for vector (cutting) engraving. The time the machine spends to cut varies according to the nature of the material, its size and thickness.

Layout Charge Pricing Concept

Layout preparation is one of the aspects in which most engravers lose revenue. There is a common saying that “Time is money”. Indeed, lost time is lost money. In our engraving business, we spend much of our time preparing the artwork for our customers. However, most people who do business with us rarely acknowledge that art preparation consumes a lot of time. As a result, they don’t translate it into money.

But we have to charge for our knowledge to create a professional engraving layout. And it should not be an embarrassment to any customers because the time we spend working on it before we finally produce it on the laser system matters a lot in business. Secondly, we spend a lot of money to buy scanners, computers, software and learn how to use them.

So we price laser engraving jobs based on layout preparation. We have a few customers who come with their artwork ready for engraving and we don’t charge them. But if we are the ones to do it for you, then you have to pay for our time, knowledge, professionalism and the machines we use to prepare your layout.

We Price Laser Engraving Jobs Based on Special Processes

We work with special processes like CerMark, colour fills, foils and much more. These processes involve an extra charge for the unique materials and the techniques we use to professional do the job. So we have to consider first the cost of the material needed, the time it takes to finish a process and the procedures we follow to achieve what our customers need.

acrylic award base

Custom Award With Built acrylic Base

Acrylic Award With Built Base

Let us use an example of making a custom award. We use a special type of base, which we build from acrylic materials. These award bases consume a lot of materials, machine-cutting time and hands-on time.  We use materials like acrylic sheets, UV glue, wood sheets, crystal paper, syringes and spray paint to produce a single award. Additionally, there is a lot of professionalism in making these awards. If you mess up with a single process, you lose everything.

Keystone Pricing Method

The keystone is a pricing method whereby an item is priced at an amount that is double its cost price. Keystone method essentially means that if the cost of a product is USD 10, then the sale price would be set at USD 20.

In engraving, we always buy unengraved items usually known as blanks. If I buy a blank like a keychain at USD 2.00, I will sell it to you at USD 4.00 after engraving it if I use the keystone pricing method.

You may wonder why it’s like that. But a blank has less or no value compared to a finished product. The engraved product carries more perceived value and has more meaning to the user.

Flat Pricing Method

Flat pricing simply means the price we charge is inclusive of all variables averaged out. For example, when we charge a flat price of  USD 405 (UGX 1,500,000) for an illuminated two-by-one metre signpost, the price includes art preparation, the materials and all the processes involved like transportation and installation.

We Also Price Laser Engraving Jobs to Market

It’s a technique we usually apply in a slow season when there is no business. We may quote too low because we want to get the order. It’s better to have a low-profit margin than having no work.

Final Thought

We use various pricing methods for the engraving jobs we receive. We have come up with a blog post, first to educate our customers so that they do business with us from an informed viewpoint. Secondly, we want to share with those in the laser engraving industry, especially new ones, the pricing techniques to use in their business.

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  1. Wendy

    Charles thank you for such a good reference article. I have this one bookmarked to refer to when I have questions about the occasional odd job out there.

  2. Chas Hart

    Hi Charles, just bought a helix epilog laser engraver. 1st job i have 10 walnut finish plaques to engrave and cut the sizing, about 5-15 logos on the bottom plates, have a clear picture to screw on 8×10 and the picture and a name plate that includes all the people in the picture, also engraved. Could you tell me how to calculate what the cost for the client should be? Thanks, Chas

    • Charles Kiyimba

      Thank you, Chas, for your question. If you go through the pricing concepts in this post, you will not fail to see one where the job you have falls. Basing on that, you can price the products depending on where you are. But you must also remember that there are other players in your target market. Find out what their prices are so that you don’t overprice or underprice your product.


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