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How to Start a Laser Engraving Business

Do you want to start a laser engraving business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a laser engraving business with NO money and no experience. This particular business has been growing for quite some time now. In fact, manufacturers of laser machines have seen increased interest and year over year sales growth in their business and the industry has continued to grow at a rapid pace.

For those who don’t know, laser engraving is cutting and/or etching into different product types including rubber, wood, metal, glass and mirror. But you should know that laser engraving needs different types of equipment so it is important to do a bit of homework before you rush out and buy a machine. In this modern world and with the sophisticated engraving equipment offered for sale, your success in this business can only be limited by your willingness.

However, to start this business, you need to know what type of products you will be creating and who you will be selling to. This is important because getting the right equipment is very important. Indeed this business is one venture that is beginning to gain more grounds, and a lot of folks are beginning to get trained and have become experts in this field. The need for the industry is growing day by day as people tend to appreciate long lasting works.

The Laser engraving business is a very profitable one and requires just little capital to start. The laser engraving system is not a complicated one, and as such you will be able to get acquainted in no time at all with the entire process.

When getting ready to start this business, you can consider starting from your home or you can hire a space if you also want, and if going into the laser engraving business is uttermost on your mind, then you may want to read on to understand the various requirements for starting this business.

17 Steps to Starting a Laser Engraving Business

1. Understand the Industry

Laser engraving, which is a subset of laser marking, is the practice of using lasers to engrave an object. Laser marking we know is a bigger category that leaves marks on an object, which also includes colour change due to chemical/molecular alteration, charring, foaming, melting, ablation and more.

We believe that the technique does not involve the use of ink, nor does it involve tool bits which contact the engraving surface and wear out, giving it an advantage over alternative engraving or marking technologies where inks or bit heads have to be replaced regularly. The machines for laser engraving and laser marking are the same, so that the two terms are sometimes confused by those without knowledge or experience in the practice.

Experts in the industry believe that over the five years to 2017, the engraving industry has witnessed robust growth. The industry provides a largely discretionary service at consumer level, offering customizable templates with which consumers can personalize products such as smart phones, tablets and cutlery. We also believe that vast businesses also demand industry services for name plates, plaques and signage, as well as other engravings. Experts also believe that in the next five years that industry revenue will continue increasing.

Per capita disposable income is expected to display strong growth; as a result, consumers will continue to spend on discretionary services such as those provided by the engraving industry in order to fulfill their desire for unique touches to generic products. We also need to state that the industry is largely concentrated in the Great Lakes region, which accounts for about 30.0% of total establishments.

In addition, the West makes up 18.3% of total establishments, followed by the Southeast (14.3%) and Mid-Atlantic (10.8%) regions. Facts have shown that industry ventures will locate near downstream markets, such as manufacturers that need engraving services for product barcodes, serial numbers and other product data.

Also, industry operators may locate near manufacturing hubs, such as California (14.1%), Texas (6.9%), Illinois (6.9%), Ohio (7.5%), Michigan (7.7%) and North Carolina, which generate significant shares of total manufacturing output in the united states.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

When planning to start this business, you should undertake a thorough feasibility studies and market survey as it concerns the laser engraving business. You can read books that are available on this type of business, and you may also consider using various resources that are available on the internet. The feasibility studies you do would to a large extent guide you on how things may be done.

But we believe there are a few reasons why people are interested in laser engraving. First, there is an increased interest in personalized items as consumer demand continues to grow. Second, lasers simply can engrave better, faster and with more precision than any of the older personalization technologies so it is by far the best choice for business. In some markets, business owners are able to increase production and venture into areas that were never before thought possible.

In this line of business, we suggest that you make it a paramount duty to dictate and make sure you develop strategic pacts with corporate organizations, advertising and branding agencies, religious organizations et al. Outlined below is the list of sectors that always need the services you are willing to provide;

  • Banks, Insurance Companies and other related Financial Institutions
  • Blue Chips Companies
  • Corporate Organizations
  • Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Real Estate Owners, Developers, and Contractors
  • Research and Development Companies
  • The Government (Public Sector)
  • Schools (High Schools, Colleges and Universities)
  • Hotels
  • Celebrities, Politicians, Public Figures and Public Speakers
  • Sport Organizations
  • Religious Organizations
  • Political Parties
  • Television Stations
  • Printing Press (Publishing Houses) and Authors
  • Branding and Advertising agencies
  • Aspiring celebrities
  • Entrepreneurs and Start – Ups

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

We believe that laser engraving is a lucrative way to start a business in a growing industry. Laser systems are so easy to use that you’ll be able to start using one in no time, and they are so affordable and can pay for themselves in a short amount of time. Whether you choose to open a store front business or work from home, you will find laser engraving a profitable way to start a business. Here are just a few niches to start with:

  • Wedding Gifts: photo albums, etched glasses
  • Photo Engraving: family memories on marble
  • Signage: Create custom signs in wood and acrylic
  • Barcode labels
  • Rubber stamps
  • Models: Frame architectural models to toys
The Level of Competition in the Industry

We have been able to note that the demand for personalized custom engraving is rapidly and steadily growing. And while custom engraving was formerly limited to extremely talented creative artists and craftsmen, new sophisticated engraving system enables you to produce elaborately engraved custom designs that match the skills of the finest engravers. If you are an artist, it will enhance your skills – but with growing industry technology, the only talent you really need for engraving success is the ability to trace a line.

More and more people are buying personalized engraving today, both for decorative purposes and to protect valuables with identification. They add names, initials, company logos, custom designs and more to all kinds of items: glassware and gifts, trophies and awards, guns and knives, baseball bats, golf clubs, clocks, cameras, eggshells and ceramics, tools and toys – the list goes on!

When you begin marketing your engraving services, you will probably choose a target market, and select areas to specialize in as your personal style develops. As you grow, you may expand into new, diverse markets, and plan your business accordingly.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

  • Cal Nor Laser Engraving
  • Tim Frates Laser
  • Dongguan Heli Laser Engraving Factory
  • Weigels Custom Laser Engraving
  • Dongguan Carving Laser Engraving Cutting Factory
  • W&S Laser Engraving Company
  • Dongguan Qinfa Laser Engraving Cutting Factory
  • Etch Custom Laser Engraving
  • R&S Laser Engraving
  • H&R Laser Engraving
  • Shenzhen Risheng Laser Engraving Factory
  • Spot On Laser Engraving LLC
  • Gee’s Laser Engraving, Inc
  • Dongguan Tuanli Laser Engraving Factory
  • Oak Creek Laser Engraving
  • Dave’s Laser Engraving Inc.
  • Badger Creek Laser Engraving
  • Bendalighttime Custom Laser Engraving
  • T D Laser Engraving
  • Xiaolan Town Jinhang Laser Engraving Processing Factory
  • D & R Testing Laser Engraving Inc.
  • T&M’s Laser Engraving and Wood Carving
Economic Analysis

Laser engraving is a multi-disciplinary specialization that can be used in several ways. When most people think of laser engraving they probably think of trophies and award plaques. However, it is really much larger than that. Laser engraving is now used on all types of craft items, personalized gifts, and electronic hardware and in the fabric and apparel markets to help with pattern making and precision cutting.

Many manufacturers of laser machines report that machine prices have been stable for the past few years now. So there has never been a better time to get into this type of business. Another great thing about etching is the immense profit margins available to you and your business. Essentially, you are doing custom work and are setting your own prices.

Also know that there are a thousand and one laser operators who would be willing to train you before you open your own business. This might come with either a fee or not, but you must be sure you get this training from an experienced and qualified person.

After you must have gained this experience, then you can be sure to start right. A laser-engraving business could be just the thing you are looking for. You will want to decide what type of engraving you are interested in doing and then buy the right type of machine to help accomplish those goals.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

In this line of business, there is more advantage in buying a Laser engraving franchise instead of starting a new business from the scratch. Have it in mind that buying a franchise is not as easy as it seems, which is why we advise that you carefully evaluate the factors involved with buying a franchise, you need to do your research even before deciding to commit yourself.

We also advise that you consider and verify that the business is the right fit for your personal and professional goals. The moment when you must have certified that the business rhymes with your life goals and vision, a business broker will help the rest of the pieces of the process to fall in place and you might just become an owner of a Laser engraving business without the stress of going from the scratch.

We also advise that you don’t just jump into this business with the information you get only on the internet. We strongly advice that you get the input of an expert to help you understand the ways and trends of the business. It is for that reason that you have to find an expert who have been in the business for a while and then learn under his or her tutelage. Note that this might be for a fee- depending on the agreement you have with the person.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

We believe that one of the crucial challenges when starting this business is hoping you can engrave every material with the same machine. Indeed a lot of new entrants in the industry often start with limited funds to purchase equipment. We have also noticed that a lot of industry equipment vendors and suppliers make it look like you can do just about anything with just one machine or specific equipment.

Another issue in this business is that a lot of new entrants in this business tend to buy start up package without knowing the learning curve involved with laser engraving business. We believe that most people get startup kits with the promise of being able to raise extra income from home in their spare time. It can’t be denied that a lot of laser engraving businesses started this way.

But you should also know that most of that start up kits end up lying dormant in storage without being remembered. So be sure to invest your time learning from a professional in the industry. The third pitfall is knowing how to start and run this business. The ideas and ways of running businesses differ and you just can’t wake up one morning and decide to leverage an industry as promising as this one. Be sure to stay current with industry trends.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

In this business, you have just two perfect legal structures that seem to suit the business squarely- sole proprietorship and the LLC. But we believe that the legal structure you choose out of the two should be based on the size and scale of the business.

Since your business is all about the income and interest of your clients, the LLC is the best legal entity for your business be it small, medium or large. It’s important to state that the advantage of creating an LLC typically outweighs any perceived disadvantages.

  • Protected assets
  • Heightened credibility
  • Limited compliance requirements
  • Flexible management structure
  • Few restrictions

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

  • Magical Laser engraving Co.
  • Lasting Impressions Company
  • Thread style LLC
  • Creative laser
  • Blue Sky Laser engraving
  • Favour laser Company
  • Southern Laser engraving
  • Laser engraving Palace
  • American Laser engraving Co.
  • Galaxy Laser engraving
  • Fire Laser engraving
  • Great Laser engraving
  • J Harding and Co.
  • Manuel Designs Laser engraving Co .
  • Design Express
  • Pan Trading Co.
  • Peerless Laser engraving Co.
  • Metro Laser engraving
  • Promo Vision Inc.
  • Effective Play Designs
  • Regal Originals Inc.

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Indeed laser engraving business owners get to enjoy being creative while also blessing their customers with creative ideas and samples. Even if  your business does custom work on a contract basis or you sell laser engraving supplies to customers, you have many details to keep track of.

Remember it is your duty as an independent entrepreneur to protect your business, supplies, customers and employees by making sure you have the best business insurance to fit your particular business needs. Insurance your business may need may include;

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Laser engraving Equipment Breakdown Insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Umbrella insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Crime insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

Imagine starting a business with your well thought out ideas only to have these ideas which serve as a bedrock for your business snatched from you. It will indeed hurt and move one into dubious means of revenge, which is why we strongly advise that you consider going for intellectual property protection to be able to protect your intellectual property.

Just like so many new entrants in the business world, you might think it is not important for your business, but note that filing for intellectual property protection for your laser engraving business  goes beyond protecting your company’s logo and other documents, but also protecting your investments ideas, style, and of course the name of your company.

If you want to file for intellectual property protection and also register your trademark in the United States, you have to start by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

In this business, there will always be need for you to show your customers how knowledgeable you are about engraving and all other related aspects. Have it mind that only professionalism coined from professional certifications can give you this platform, and each certification in this industry has its own set of rules and regulations and is guaranteed by a professional career organization.

  • Laser Cutter Operator Certificate – NAIT
  • Advanced computerised engraving specialists
  • Professional Laser engraving Certification
  • LaserStar’s Laser Application Specialists

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

When starting this business, we advise that you register yourself as a small business, and check with your Secretary of State about any licenses or registrations you need to have. The regulations are different in every state.

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

This has been defined by experts as a set of monetary resources and credit that will be needed by a company, business, organization or individual for them to carry out a particular activity or materialize a project. From just the definition, we all can see the great importance of finance in our business activities. It is expedient that you investigate reliable sources of funds which could be accessed. Possible sources include:

  • Personal savings
  • Pitching
  • angel investor
  • Partnership
  • Bank overdraft
  • Venture Capital
  • Loans forms family and friends
  • Loans and grants
  • Alternative funding source like Crowdfunding

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

If we look around our surroundings or towns, we can spot laser engraving businesses or designing forms all around us. They can be spotted and noticed easily, this is because it is hard to come across a business area that does not have laser engraving business in the modern America. This is why you should ask yourself: why do they choose these locations? Indeed they have done their research.

From our extensive research, we were able to note this business is a unique business that needs frequent human traffic to be able to succeed, which is why most laser engraving businesses choose their locations using population density, average adjusted gross income (AGI) in that surrounding area, and proximity to their target market. If you plan to be successful in this business, you need to make use of the same factors when choosing locations for your laser engraving business.

We also advice that you know the specific area you are considering very well. At least having or understanding how many people have access to that location, what income level they belong to, demographic and psychographic, and likely competition.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

From our research we have been able to note that people who flourish most in this business are those who are creative, sales-oriented and outside-the-box thinkers. Take a good look at your personality and see if you fit the description. If you are starting on a small note, then you may just stop at you being the only operator. On the other hand, if you are starting on a medium to large note, then you may consider hiring more hands.

You can hire individuals that you can train so as to cut costs. Be sure to find out from those who already have laser engraving employees how much it costs to pay and how you may fit in yours. Engraving is a very cost-effective venture for people looking to start a business. For a modest investment, you can enter the laser engraving market. To start your small business, here’s what you will need:

  • A laser system

Laser systems range from $8,000 to around $45,000, based on engraving area and the wattage of the laser system.

  • A computer

Any Windows 2000, XP or Vista operating system or the latest operating system is recommended.

Graphic software

This varies by manufacturer. A lot of laser engraving system manufacturers prefer you use their proprietary design software, while others have open-architecture equipment that allows you to work with the software you currently have. Graphics suites can cost a significant amount—be sure to research this aspect carefully.

  • Laser system features/options

It all rest on what laser system you choose, there are several accessories that are either included as standard features or accessories you may purchase. The following options are highly recommended, but be sure to research whether they come with the equipment or require additional purchase.

  • Air assist

This allows you to attach an air compressor to the unit that blows a constant stream of air at the point of burn. Helps reduce any flare-up from combustible materials.

  • Auto focus

Automatically focuses the laser to the correct engraving height.

  • Vector cutting grid

This is an essential feature if you are cutting through materials.

  • Rotary attachment

If you want to etch glasses, mugs, wine bottles and other cylindrical objects, you will need a rotary attachment.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

A good engraving machine can be thought of as three main parts: a laser, a controller and a surface. The laser is like a pencil – the beam gotten from it allows the controller to trace patterns onto the required place. The controller directs intensity, speed of movement, and spread of the laser beam aimed at the surface. The surface is picked to match what the laser can act on.

You need to know that there are three main genres of engraving machines: The most common is the X-Y table where, usually, the work piece (surface) is stationary and the laser optics move around in X and Y directions, directing the laser beam to draw vectors. But in some instances, the laser is stationary and the work piece shifts. Also the work piece moves in the Y axis and the laser in the X axis.

Then note that a second genre is for cylindrical work pieces (or flat work pieces mounted around a cylinder) where the laser squarely traverses a fine helix and on/off laser pulsing produces the desired image on a raster basis. In the third method, both the laser and work piece are stationary and galvo mirrors move the laser beam over the work piece surface.

It is very important to state that the point where the laser touches the surface should be on the focal plane of the laser’s optical system, and is usually synonymous with its focal point. We believe that this point is typically small, perhaps less than a fraction of a millimetre (depending on the optical wavelength). But just the area inside this focal point is significantly affected when the laser beam passes over the surface.

It can be said that the energy delivered by the laser changes the surface of the material under the focal point. It may heat up the surface and subsequently vaporize the material, or perhaps the material may fracture (known as “glassing” or “glassing up”) and flake off the surface. Cutting through the paint of a metal part is generally how material is laser engraved.

Note that if the surface material is vaporized during laser engraving, ventilation through the use of blowers or a vacuum pump are almost always needed to get rid of the noxious fumes and smoke arising from this process, and for removal of debris on the surface to allow the laser to continue engraving.

Also vast patterns can be engraved by programming the controller to traverse a particular path for the laser beam over time. The trace of the laser beam is carefully regulated to achieve a consistent removal depth of material. The speed at which the beam moves across the material is also considered in creating engraving patterns.

Changing the intensity and spread of the beam allows more flexibility in the design. Also since the position of the laser is known exactly by the controller, it is not important to increase barriers to the surface to prevent the laser from moving from the prescribed engraving pattern.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

A marketing plan is a detailed document that gives a vivid picture of what you want to achieve in your company, in time and with the financial resources necessary to achieve the objectives and strategies of the company. It examines the current situation of the company, performs its analysis, studies the competition, creates strategies and action programs to be implemented.

Note that a well detailed promotional strategy gotten from the marketing plan could determine the success or failure of your business. Ways to market your laser engraving business may include;

  • Building an attractive website
  • Business networking and partnership
  • Referrals
  • Leveraging social media platforms and traditional advertising strategies
  • Using marketing materials
  • Using satisfied customers testimonies

17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

In business, its your duty to reach your potential customers so that they wish to access your services. This is very important, especially at the very beginning, so it is essential to create an advertisement in traditional networks to capture the attention of visitors and customers.

We believe that building a substantial advertising plan is the best and easiest way to boost your brand awareness. This plan is a document that allows the dissemination of an advertising campaign in order to reach the target audience. Listed below are the factors you need to analyse in your plan to be able to have brand affinity that will take the industry by storm.

  • Define the objectives
  • Analyse the target
  • Develop Strategies
  • Establish Communication Channels
  • Determine Media
  • Define formats
  • Assign a budget
  • Design a calendar/timing
  • Analyse the plan-evaluation