Have you been thinking about starting your own business? If so, have you considered personalising gifts for special occasions?
There is a lot more to the market than just engraving plaques and trophies. Every day, companies come out with novel products that incorporate personalisation to make the item more unique to the customer. A quick search on the web would immediately reveal bottle openers, pens, glass bottles, lighters, photo frames and numerous other products that are personalised for customers with a unique message.
No matter what product you decide to engrave, the one common denominator is that the personalisation is done with a laser machine. In fact, a wood, plastic, glass or metal engraving machine use the same laser technology.
In recent years the personalised gifts market has flourished. Much of it is thanks to the power of eCommerce. It’s certainly easier than ever before to start an online business and reach customers all around the globe.
Offering to engrave a message on an item makes a simple gift much more memorable. Whether it’s an anniversary, birthday, wedding or other special occasions; the personalised gift will be cherished for years to come.
Additionally, laser engraving technology has significantly improved over the past decade. In fact, almost anyone can learn how to use a laser machine and start engraving in minutes. You don’t need to be a qualified engineer to use a laser system anymore.
What’s more, the market has been flooded with increasingly compact machines in recent years. Consequently, laser systems are now more affordable and can be operated even in a modestly-sized workshop or office.
What laser machine do I need?
Frankly, it’s a complicated question. However, we’ll start by looking at the basics. The two most popular types of engraving machines are CO2 and fiber laser systems. CO2 lasers are best suited for wood, leather, glass and other organic materials. Whereas, fiber lasers are best suited for metals and plastics. So, the first thing to consider is what products you are going to engrave? For metal surfaces, such as stainless steel, aluminum or brass, you will need a fiber laser machine.
OK, next we’ll have to consider the size of the marking window. In other words, how large is the area that you need to engrave. If you only sell small objects, for example, pens and keyrings, then a standard marking area of 100mm x 100mm should be sufficient. If you have large products, you have to consider your options. If you stock large-sized products, you may need a larger workstation, which costs substantially more than a small enclosed unit.
Next, you have to factor in whether your products are flat or rounded. For round products, such as a ring, you will require a rotary attachment to engrave the item successfully.
You also need to consider your work environment. Laser systems come in different sizes. It’s not only your budget that would determine what machine you buy but also the space that you have for it. Luckily, most personalised gift companies need a small enclosed unit, so a modest workshop or even your home office should be sufficient for the job. You may also want to buy a fume extraction unit to ensure that your workspace is adequately ventilated.
Cost and maintenance
The big question is – what does a laser engraving machine cost? Again, I’m afraid that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. As a ballpark figure, a decent laser system starts at over £10,000, while some of the larger workstations are substantially more. Yes, it’s not cheap. However, most businesses see the purchase as an investment. Imagine the added benefits to your customers.
The other things to bear in mind when you purchase a laser system is the annual maintenance costs, as well as ensuring that you have engineering support if the machine breaks down. It’s worth noting that most reputable laser machine providers will have anywhere from 1-3 years of warranty included.
Starting a laser business to engrave gifts is surprisingly achievable to many nowadays. Thanks to the improvements in laser technology and the reduction in costs, a machine can be purchased for at a similar price to a brand new mid-range car. Granted, it’s not cheap. But, if you find the right niche and product to personalise, it will undoubtedly be a worthwhile investment.
You can find out more about the selection of laser engraving machines that Needham Coding has to offer here: https://www.needham-coding.com/.