Laser cutting is a high-accuracy machining method and it can process a variety of materials with high efficiency and precision. It shows obvious advantages over traditional mechanical cutting methods. Do you need laser cutting to make something but do not have a laser cutter? If so, would you choose to pay for a laser cutting service to help you make it, or buy laser cutter and do it by yourself? Each of these two options has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, finding a laser cutting service saves time and effort but the processing cost is high; on the other hand, if you buy laser cutter, it is convenient for personal use but it requires initial investment and basic laser cutting skills. This article will help you analyze your situation and find the best solution.
Laser Cutting Service
Laser cutting service is provided by individuals or companies who own laser cutting machines. They laser cut items according to customer requirements and charge certain fees. When people have rush processing needs or don’t have enough money to buy a laser cutter, choosing this kind of service is a good cheap alternative. Nowadays, as the advantages of laser cutting become more and more obvious, the demand for laser cutting is increasing rapidly. As a result, many laser cutter owners offer paid laser cutting services to others. Some examples are metal laser cutting service, acrylic laser cutting service, wood laser cutting service, etc. However, not all services are reliable. The processing quality varies and some service suppliers may charge you some hidden fees.
What’s the Advantages of Finding Laser Cutting Service?
- Save processing time.
It can help you to finish the work in a short time. If your customer’s deadline is looming, then finding a professional service to complete the processing work on your behalf is the fastest solution.
- Save manpower.
If you don’t know how to design patterns, some professional services can provide design assistance or prototyping for you. Moreover, some materials (such as thick metal plates or metal tubes) are difficult to process by yourself, so finding an experienced service can help you solve this problem easily.
- Save the cost to buy laser cutter.
If you only need laser cutting temporarily, then choosing a laser processing service can help you save the cost to buy laser cutter.
What’s the Disadvantages of Finding Laser Cutting Service?
- Need to pay processing fee and other fees.
Although finding a laser cutting service saves costs to buy laser cutter, you need to pay a certain processing fee and other fees to the service provider. The processing fee is mainly determined by the processing time of the machine. The average processing cost usually ranges from $80 to $150 per hour or even higher. Sometimes there is a charge per minute of machine usage or per centimeter of cut. Also, if your items are difficult to cut, the processing fee will be much higher. For online laser cutting service, there are also material costs, shipping costs or file preparation costs. And some non-professional services charge hidden extras but you don’t know why those fees are needed.
- Have uneven processing quality.
At present, there are countless individuals or companies providing online or offline laser cutting services while the processing quality is uneven. The processing quality depends on the processing materials, the performance of the laser machine, and the proficiency of the operator. When you are looking for a service provider, please be sure to check their processing experience and suggest doing a sample cutting to know the actual cutting effect. Also, I suggest you cooperate with the service that can offer a re-make guarantee.
- Have turnaround time.
After you make your order online, you need to wait for 3-5 days to get the finished products. And an extra fee is usually charged if you have rush processing requests. So, if you want to choose an online service, be sure to know the exact turnaround time and ensure it won’t affect your business plan.
- Slow down the return of funds.
For people who want to make a living by selling laser cut products, relying on laser cutting service will reduce their profits. In the long run, choosing laser cutting services will slow down the return of funds.
- Have strong dependence.
Once an emergency occurs and makes the service provider stop the service, then your business will be immediately affected. And you have to spend time looking for another reliable service provider.
Buy Laser Cutter
Choosing laser cutting service is like renting a house. It can provide you with temporary convenience. However, the return on funds is low and you have a strong dependence on the service supplier. Therefore, many people choose to buy laser cutter for their own processing needs. Although they need to spend a certain amount of money to buy laser cutter, owning a laser cutter has a lot of advantages.
What’s the Advantages to Buy Laser Cutter?
- Facilitate personal use.
If you buy laser cutter, you don’t need to wait and can laser cut any items directly. And there is no limit to the processing time. This can make your laser cutting experience more free and flexible.
- Save processing cost.
By owning a laser machine, you don’t need to pay a high processing fee to the laser processing service. And the processing cost will be greatly reduced.
- Accelerate the return of investment.
If you buy laser cutter, you can mass-produce products more efficiently. The laser cutting machine can speed up the return of your initial investment. And it can deal with various materials and has a wide range of applications.
- Improve laser cutting skills and increase processing experience.
If you are eager to learn some laser cutting skills, then keeping practicing is your best teacher. Buy laser cutter is more convenient for self-practice. You can try different laser processing styles and make different laser cut objects. Laser-cutting experience can open your mind and broaden your processing knowledge. Also, you can take laser cutting as a long-term hobby. If you buy laser cutter and keep exploring it, it will bring you many surprises and help you increase your knowledge.
What’s the Disadvantages to Buy Laser Cutter?
- Need initial investment.
You need an initial investment to buy laser cutter. The price of a laser cutting machine varies. If you work on small non-metal items or thin metal pieces, like jewelry, cards, decorations, ornaments, signs, etc, a small CO2 laser cutter is enough, which costs about $1,000 to $4,000. If you need a large-format laser cutter to mass-process metal materials, then a fiber laser cutting machine is suitable to meet your needs, which costs about $3,000 to $100,000 or higher.
- Require enough space to place the machine.
There is no doubt that if you want to buy laser cutter for your own use, you need to prepare enough space to place the machine. The size of the machine depends on how large the material you need to process.
- Need basic operation knowledge.
Laser cutting machine is an automated machine and the laser is dangerous. The unreasonable operation can cause personal injury and damage the machine. Therefore, knowing the basic operation knowledge and machine maintenance tips is necessary. Before operating the machine, be sure that you are qualified enough to use it and wear the necessary protective equipment.
Ask Yourself Six Questions to Find the Right Solution
Now you have known the pros and cons of finding laser cutting service and buying laser cutter. So, how to make the final decision and which solution is suitable for you? You can ask yourself the following six questions.
Question One: Why Do I Need Laser Cutting?
Only need laser cutting temporarily:
If you just need laser cutting temporarily, then choosing a laser cutting service is enough to meet your need. And it saves a lot of time and effort for you.
Often need laser cutting:
If you are a craft enthusiast and often need laser cutting to make beautiful crafts, you can determine if you need to buy laser cutter per the processing costs of the laser cutting service. If the processing cost is high, you can spend thousands of dollars to buy a small laser cutter and make crafts by yourself. The following desktop CO2 laser cutter is a great choice. It has a compact size and is very easy to operate. You can click it and get to know more details.
Question Two: How Many Materials Do I Need to Process?
Small amount of material:
If you only need to cut a small amount of material, then choosing a professional cutting service is more cost-effective than buy laser cutter.
Large amount of material:
If you need to mass-produce something, you can decide whether to choose a service or purchase a laser cutting machine based on the processing complexity of your material. For example, if your material is complicated to be processed, the laser cutting service cost will be very high, then it is recommended to purchase a machine and do the work by yourself. If the material processing is simple, then find a laser cutting service with a suitable quotation or buy laser cutter to process it yourself are both feasible solutions.
Question Three: What Kind of Materials Do I Need to Process?
Non-metallic material and thin metal sheet:
The processing of non-metallic materials generally uses CO2 laser cutting machines. For non-metallic laser cutting services like acrylic laser cutting service or wood laser cutting service, the processing cost is affordable. Also, the cost to buy a CO2 laser cutting machine is inexpensive for most people. You can decide whether to choose a laser cutting service or purchase a laser cutting machine according to your long-term plan.
Fiber laser cutting machine is the ideal machine to process thick metals. If you need to process thick metal materials, the processing cost of metal laser cutting service is high, and the cost to buy a fiber laser cutter is also high. In this case, you can make the choice per your available budget. Below DXTECH metal sheet fiber laser cutting machine is manufactured with world-class parts and has excellent cutting performance. If you want to buy a fiber laser cutter, this machine can be a great choice.
Question Four: What Cutting Effect Do I Want to Achieve?
No strict requirements for cutting accuracy:
If you don’t have strict requirements on cutting accuracy, you can look for a suitable laser cutting service or buy a cheap laser cutting machine and do it by yourself. Both of the two options are feasible.
Have high requirements for cutting accuracy:
If you have high requirements for cutting accuracy, you need to spend time looking for a reliable laser cutting service. Ask for a sample cutting test and check the cutting effect. If it’s difficult to find a suitable service provider, you can spend some money to buy a new laser machine that has high processing precision.
Question Five: Do I Have Enough Budget to Buy Laser Cutter?
Have enough budget:
If you have enough budget and often need a laser cutting machine to process some items, then it is recommended to buy laser cutter to facilitate your own use.
No enough budget:
If you currently don’t have enough budget to buy a suitable laser machine, you can cooperate with a laser cutting service for now. After you have accumulated enough funds, you can choose to buy laser cutter to support your future business growth.
Question Six: Is Laser Cutting Easy to Learn for Me?
Difficult to learn laser cutting:
If you think it is difficult to learn laser cutting, then it is recommended to cooperate with laser cutting services to ensure your items can be processed timely.
Interested in learning laser cutting:
If you’re interested in learning laser cutting, don’t rush to buy a laser cutting machine. It is recommended to learn about laser cutting through makerspace or online training resources. If you feel that you are suitable for learning laser cutting, you can buy a laser machine that is suitable for beginners. For example, DXTECH produced the following entry-level fiber laser cutting machine with a simple control interface. And this machine is very easy for beginners to learn and can be mastered in a few hours.
In summary, laser cutting service is convenient and suitable for rush laser cutting requests or temporary laser cutting needs. However, if you want to take laser cutting as a long-term investment, buying a laser cutter is better. By owning a laser cutting machine, you can accelerate the return on initial investment and have enough time to practice your laser cutting skills. When you are not sure whether to find laser cutting service or buy laser cutter, you can take this article as a reference and find the right solution per your real needs.