How Much Does It Cost to Run a Laser Cutter?

You might be considering purchasing a Laser Cutter and need to know how much does it cost to run a laser cutter. Laser cutters are high-impact engraving tools used to cut, etch, mark, or engrave hard materials for decoration and personalization. Highly concentrated beams of light allow the energetic waves to come into complete alignment for a consistent level of pure power.

Cutters are indeed so powerful that they can cut through hard surfaces (Can you imagine? Light alone can cut through thick metal!), and they do this through computer automation.

Cost is an important consideration for users who want to buy laser cutters. Laser cutters can get quite expensive due to their nifty technology, so users want a way to determine how much it will cost not just to get one but to regularly operate one.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Laser Cutter?

Direct Costs

Here, we’ll discuss the cost to run a laser cutter in detail. There are many things to consider.

First, the actual cost of the machine widely varies. It can cost anywhere between $200 and $10,000. These costs can skyrocket for industrial or commercial versions. All told, these cost estimates are based on size, wattage, power, and a host of other features that consumers should consider when buying one.

Have a look at our laser buying guides here

The second, electricity, is tricky but not so demanding in the end. The power consumption of a laser cutter can be quite extensive. There are three factors to keep in mind when factoring this component in alone:

  1. Actual working time: how long it takes for the laser cutting machine or laser engraving machine to complete the task.
  2. Use of laser power: how much power, in watts, did the task need?
  3. Peripheral equipment: exhaust systems and cooling units are necessary components of a fully-functional laser cutter. These also use power.

All of these electrical considerations cost money. However, the cost is much more insubstantial than you would think at first glance. For a CO2 laser that operates at 60w, for instance, running it at 50% power for one hour will consume 360w. That’s approximately $0.14/hour. Adding the cooling unit or exhaust system notches it up to about $0.42/hour. So, all in all, not much.

Also Read: Do Laser Engravers Use a Lot of Electricity

Laser consumables are another vital cost consideration in running a laser cutter. For a Fiber laser cutting machine, because they need assist gas, they essentially require gas consumables. A CO2 Laser Cutter will require either a glass or a metal laser tube. The glass tube is the most cost-effective option.

Also Read: When Should I Replace My CO2 Laser Tube

Insurance and warranty costs are also a thing. These are important for the longevity of your laser machine, so make sure to factor them in before buying your laser cutter.

Indirect Costs

Now that we’ve gone over the direct costs of operating a laser cutter, it’s essential to consider the indirect costs.

First, there’s labor and maintenance. If you want to get your laser engraver professionally maintained, regular upkeep will cost you much more than electricity alone.

Overhead is another indirect cost. Overhead expenses are those not directly related to the cutter.

Materials are another indirect cost, and these can rack up a bill. These are all the materials you would use in your projects, from wood to foam to plastic to sheet metal.

Managing Costs

Managing Laser Costs

Adding management costs to the operation of your laser cutter definitely increases the overall financial obligation. These include part replacements, energy-efficient upgrades, materials for the cutter and to cut on, and outsourcing.

When it comes to part replacements, these can be numerous. For fiber laser cutters these would include the protective and focus lenses, the nozzle, and ceramic rings. In terms of energy-efficient upgrades, these can include a water chiller, upgraded ventilation including a fan, a fume extractor, and more (these are all for a CO2 laser cutting machine). Materials are obviously another cost; we’ve mentioned some of them above, but they can also include ceramic, leather, cardboard, cork, and fabric.

Check our buying guides:

Top 5 Laser Engraver Exhaust Fan Options

Top 5 Best Fume Extractors for Laser Engravers

The way to manage all these costs is to reduce what you absolutely need for the materials you’ll be cutting. You can also outsource your cutting needs, make a prototype, and use energy-efficient techniques.

Maintenance and Upkeep

As you can see, the costs do add up. Yet the list goes on. You should therefore take all of these costs – direct and indirect – into account before you purchase one.

So how much do maintenance and upkeep cost for laser cutters? Again, it varies, but overall, they involve labor (either by you or a professional; the former is free, the latter is not) and specific materials to keep your laser cutter in tip-top shape and working order. Mainly this involves cleaning – while some of the products, like a cloth or q-tip, might be negligible, others will not.

Laser Maintenance and Upkeep

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Laser Cutter – FAQ

How much does it cost to run a laser cutter?

This may seem like a simple question but it has a very extensive answer. First, there are materials; second, there is labor; third, there are parts; fourth, there is maintenance and upkeep, and that’s not all. Read the above for a much more detailed and in-depth explanation of the costs. Some are direct, and others are indirect. It’s essential to keep all of them in mind.

What are the direct costs associated with running a laser cutter?

Direct costs are operational costs. These include the actual cost of the laser machine; the electricity and power consumption costs associated with running the cutter and the exhaust and cooling systems, as needed; and labor/working time.

What are the indirect costs associated with running a laser cutter?

Upkeep and maintenance is the biggest indirect laser cutting cost. Overhead is another indirect cost, and finally, materials ranging from those you’ll cut to other parts and energy-efficient upgrades round out the indirect costs.

How can I manage the cost of operating a laser cutter?

Managing costs for an expensive piece of machinery can be tricky, but we’ve provided some equipment-specific options. These include accounting for energy-efficient upgrades, reducing costs by distilling what you need, making a prototype, and using energy-efficient cutting methods.

Final Thoughts

With all of these financial considerations in mind, purchasing your own laser machine seems to be a very cost-effective move because the low operating costs and minimal maintenance requirements will enable you to produce a wider range of products and boost future profits.