Laser Cutting Services

How To Get The Best Price On Laser Cutting

If you're a product designer you're probably looking for laser cutting services that are affordable.  Designers & product developers need manufacturing services that are priced low enough to be able to wholesale, then retail the finished product.  Read on below...

I work with a range of product developers, each with different needs and areas of specialization.  The cost can vary a lot from designer to designer.  I've found this can create confusion around price.  I can quote one designer a low price.  Then I can quote a designer producing a similar product, a higher price.  The source of this discrepancy is the number of hours the studio needs to spend getting the order ready to print.  The more production-ready you are, the fewer hours we need to spend getting it ready.  

I thought it would help to break this down so you can see where you are.  This will give you an idea of what services the studio is providing in your quote (hint - it's not always just cutting). 

It's also a great way for me to share what goes in to product development.  I realized I do this every day so it's second nature.  For folks that don't do this for a living, all of the steps involved may be something you've never encountered before.  Knowing what those are can help illuminate why paying for design is worthwhile.  If you're a fairly experienced designer it might show areas where you can up your skills to streamline orders.  No matter where you are, I'll give you some tips on how to save money on laser cutting.  

Let's start at the top.  A fully trained product developer who specializes in vector files:

 

Graphic Artists, Industrial Designers, Product Developers

What Your Order Looks Like: Vector File, Outlined, Set Up In Correct Artboard Size, Cutting Lines Labelled Red, Duplicate Lines Removed, All Parts Are Located In the Same File, Appearance Attributes Removed, Clipping Masks & Compound Paths Removed, Fills Have Been Removed, All Raster Elements Have Been Vectorized, Type Size Has Been Tested For Legibility, Thicknesses Have Been Verified For Durability In Chosen Material, Interlocking Parts Have Been Set To The Thicknesses Used in This Studio, Patchy Vector Lines Have Been Repaired To Form Continuous Cutting Lines, Type Has Been Linked Or Bridged, You Have A Clear Understanding Of Materials & Their Attributes, You Can Choose Materials Without Advice

What You Pay For: Set Up Fee & Cutting

Who You Are Hiring: Straight Laser is your Piece Goods Manufacturer.

How To Save Money: Make the best use of your set up fee, material layout and shipping costs by ordering in quantity.  As with any manufacturing process, once the set up is done and changes minimized, costs drop significantly.  Order repeats through the same service provider to save money.

 

Product Designers OR Businesses With A Professional Graphic Artist 

What Your Order Looks Like:  You Have Your Logo In A Vector Format, You May Have Vector Files For The Product You Want To Cut, Your Understand Product Development Even If It May Not Be In The Graphic Design Industry (Examples: Skincare Company, Clothing Designer, Pet Accessories Company...), You Can Provide Specs And Have A Good Handle On Estimating Size, You Can Provide Comprehensive Detail On What You Want, You Have A Basic Handle On Materials And Have Preferences, You Have A Clear Design Direction

What You Pay For: Some Consulting On The Best Materials For Your Project, Some Size and Construction Spec Work, Graphic Design Time To Develop Your Digital File, Graphic Design Time To Make Your File Production Ready, Test Cuts, Set Up Fee & Cutting, Sometimes Finishing 

Who You Are Hiring: Straight Laser is your Product Developer & Finished Goods Manufacturer.

How To Save Money: If you're partial to your internal graphic designer or need to keep them working, hire them to fully complete the product you'd like to create.  Graphic design needs to happen either in your business or in this studio (you can't skip this part).  If using your internal artist is advantageous, do that.  Get clear on the exact sizing you need and read the list of materials I stock in the studio to know what's available.  The more you can have these things decided on before you contact me the less time it will take and the less it will cost overall.  If you're seeking post-cutting finishes but the price isn't a fit, consider ordering raw parts and doing the finishing yourself.

 

Service Businesses, Retailers, Resellers, Businesses That Don't Employ A Graphic Designer, Artists Working In Analog Formats

What Your Order Looks Like: You Are Coming To Me With An Idea, A Problem To Be Solved, Or A Request (Maybe for a sign or printing), You Created Your Logo Yourself Or Through An Online Generator, You Have A Raster Version of Your Logo & Don't Have Access to The Vector File, Your Business Doesn't Use A Style Guide, You're Requesting Atypical Materials or Custom Sourced Products, Your Request Is A One-Off Item To Solve A Specific Problem, You Would Like To Create A Product But Are Not In The Business Of Design or Product Development

What You Pay For: Sometimes Logo Creation & Branding, Converting Raster Logos To Vector Format,  File Clean Up & Repair, Product Costing, Design Direction To Ensure Product Aligns With Business Branding, Custom Materials Sourcing, Material Selection & Testing, Consulting On Proportions, Size, Fit & Finish, Design Direction For The Product Being Created, Consulting on Specs & Construction Methods, Product File Creation, Making File Production Ready, Test Cuts, Set Up Fee & Cutting, Finishing

Who You Are Hiring: Straight Laser is your Designer, Product Developer & Finished Goods Manufacturer.

How To Save Money: Hire a professional graphic artist for your logo and branding.  I provide this service in the studio.  Please ask me for a quote.  Doing so will save money over the long term as you develop your business.  Determine exactly what you need the finished product to do with as much detail as possible (Example: it has to fit on a shelf that is 7" tall...).  Provide lots of photos: either inspiration pics, or pics from inside the office where the item will be used/placed.  Read the list of materials I can process and try to align your project with a material I stock.  If you'd like custom materials sourced, order in enough quantity that it lowers the cost of bringing it in.  If your idea is out there in the market or can be solved with a ready-made item it is almost always cheaper to go that route.  Consider product development when your idea is custom, branded or it just isn't out there in the marketplace.

 

Summary

There are a lot of steps in product development that may be invisible if you're encountering it for the first time.  Even for seasoned pros, each manufacturing process has its unique needs and quirks.  I hope that by describing the process I've shown you a few areas where you can do prep work to lower laser cutting costs. 

In a future post I'll cover file prep in more detail so you can create production-ready files.

I'll also create a post about how cutting is priced and give advice on designing your product strategically to reduce costs.  

Thank you for reading.  Was this post helpful?  Questions?  Let me know in the comments! 

To start your cutting order check out the Ordering Page.

 

 

Weddings & Event Decor

How to order A Beautiful Script Sign

With wedding season coming I thought it would be good to do a post on romantic script lettering.  This is a popular request for signs.  There are a few ways of going about it.  Read on below...

Script Lettering For Weddings

If you see gorgeous script on Pinterest or Instagram it's been created in one of two ways: through a font or handwriting.  Both can be done, but they're approached a little differently.  

 

FONTS

As a graphic artist, I keep tabs on the most delectable fonts out there and set aside a purchasing budget to buy them.  I have a bank of fonts in the studio and draw on them to create signs.  If you're getting a quote from me it will mean receiving artwork made with a font.  There are some brilliant ones out there and they do a great job.

Pros of Using a Font: Great for signs on a budget.  Fast.  You can request quick, no-cost adjustments.  

Cons: It is less expressive and unique than handmade lettering.  It can't be completely customized.

 

CALLIGRAPHY/HAND LETTERING

If you're looking for something more unique, I have relationships with calligraphers and lettering artists.  When you see beautiful writing with lots of flourishes and a layout that seems to be made for the words - that writing has been created by hand.  If you like unique, organic and handmade, this is the way to go!  If you go this route I'll source an artist that matches your aesthetic and put calligraphy in your quote.  Expect it to increase the sign cost by 30-50%.  The artist will create one-of-a-kind artwork from your request.  

Pros of Using An Artist: Your piece will be totally unique.  It can be built with custom details like different letter shapes and flourishes.  It can be laid out in a custom arrangement.  Hand lettering has an organic, human feel to it.  

Cons: It requires more budget than a font-based sign.  Revisions come at an additional cost.  It adds to the lead time and is not ideal for rush orders.

 

SUMMARY

My Instagram feed is a mixture of font-based and calligraphy-based signs.  If you contact me about a specific image I can tell you whether it was made by a font or an artist.  In 99% of cases I can identify the artist and commission them to create work for you.  

What I can't do is recreate an artist's work using fonts.  The results won't be the same.  This scenario means adjusting expectations to align with the results of a font, or setting aside a little extra budget to have an artist create the piece for you.  If you do the latter, you'll end up with something gorgeous that no one else has.  And you'll be supporting an artist in their craft.  Win-win!  If you do the former, you'll also receive a great sign.  There are lots of pretty font options out there.  It just may not be identical to your original image.

 

HOW TO ORDER

Every sign I design in the studio is custom made.  Here's how to request your sign:

  1. Scan through my Instagram feed and tell me about signs you like.  If it's in my feed, I know who the original artist is.  A sign can be created through the artist, or through the studio if it was designed with a font in-house.
  2. Send me photos from Instagram, Pinterest or the web.  I can create it through the original artist or created an inspired image through a local artist, or through the studio using fonts.
  3. Describe the style you're looking for and allow me to apply my design expertise to the request.  For example, "I want French Provincial" or "It's a Great Gatsby theme".  I can create visual options from there.  

After your order is placed and paid your artwork will be started.  If it's font-based artwork I'll provide 1-2 options for you to look at.  You'll receive that artwork proof to approve and provide feedback on.  If you requests revisions, I do them.  When you give your final OK and the sign is made. 

If it's calligraphy-based artwork your artist will take your inspiration image and written request and create one finished piece for you.  You'll have the opportunity to approve the image or purchase revisions.  After I get your final OK your sign will be made.

I hope this helps explain the options.  Happy shopping!

 

artists

If you are a creator of design work, I provide wholesale laser cutting, at low cost for reselling.  To receive production pricing I ask that you be recognized as an artist (a professional graphic designer, product developer or digital illustrator) and you provide an outlined vector file set to the correct thicknesses for your material.  If that describes you, email me and ask for production pricing.  There is a post outlining what's needed to get production pricing HERE.

Digital files are held in strict confidence.  They are never shared, duplicated or opened in front of other clients.  I can keep your artwork on file for your future orders, or delete it immediately following the completion of your order. 

What did you think this post?  Was it helpful?  Let me know in the comments!

To order a script letter sign check out pricing HERE.

Laser Cutting Services

The Pros and Cons of Using A Laser Cutting Service

Hey there!  If you've found my website chances are you're a designer or business that's taken an interest in manufacturing through a laser cutting service.  Straight Laser provides per-minute laser cutting to exactly your type of business.

I LOVE laser cutting but I spent time in my career in several other areas of manufacturing before I settled on this one.  That gives me an ability to explain how it compares to the other options out there.  Scroll down to read more:

Custom Map Coaster

First let me get to the PROs because I love laser cutting and highly recommend it for any kind of small and medium-sized business.  Using a laser cutting services is great because:

  • Products can be completely custom.
  • It's a process that handles a range of materials.
  • It's ideal for prototyping.
  • It's a great way to produce short-run and small-volume projects.
  • It has a high-end, quality feel.
  • Changes are quick and easy.
  • The end result is textured and tactile.
  • It has a quick turnaround time.
  • It handles detail incredibly well.

A laser cutting service bureau like Straight Laser is ideal for producing small consumer products, components, signage, marketing materials and quality presentations.  We cut flat sheet materials in to shapes and can etch artwork on the surface of those materials.

Now let me touch on the CONs.  That can be important in figuring out where a laser cutting service won't work well.  You may want to choose a different manufacturing process if:

  • You intend to produce tens of thousands of your item.  
  • You're shooting for "pennies-per-unit" cost.
  • Production volume & capacity is more important than quality.
  • You want to create something large (over 3 feet) or heavy (greater than 1/4" thickness).
  • You're looking to specify the depths of 3D relief.

If any of these describe your manufacturing scenario, a laser cutting service may not be the best choice.  If you're running very high volumes, contacting a manufacturer who does die cutting or injection molding may be a better way to go.  A full list of the available manufacturing processes can be found here.

This is a very summary overview of laser cutting services.  There is a lot more to it.  But if you're looking for the basics, I hope this has helped.  As always, feel free to Contact me if you have questions about using Straight Laser's services.  

What did you think of this post?  Did it tell you what you needed to know?  Let me know in the comments!

To order custom laser cutting start HERE.

Business Marketing

How Do I Order A Custom Product Display?

Here at Straight Laser I create custom product displays for a range of products.  These are fun because they can be made in nearly any shape to fit your product. 

They're most often used in store shelving or at point-of-purchase.  I've created an FAQ to get you started.  Read on below...

Custom Product Display

What kind of products do these displays work for?

These displays work for small products that can get messy, chaotic and lost on store shelves.  It's also great for small items that benefit from being elevated so customers can better see them.

They are used in retail stores, professional offices and at consumer shows.  They're excellent for quick set up/tear down.

What are the benefits of a custom display?

  • A custom display makes your product look clean, organized and professional for retailers and consumers. 
  • They're excellent for including your own brand and product labels.  For example, I work with makeup brands that have me etch colour names on their displays.
  • Some display styles can be flat packed to make them easier to ship to retailers.
  • The display will fit your product perfectly, avoiding the awkwardness of generic displays.
  • It will elevate and organize your product, fitting more into a smaller footprint.

What are the max dimensions?

The max dimensions for displays are 17 1/4" x 17 1/4" x 20 1/2".  This can be flexible depending on the proportions.  These are countertop displays meant for setting on shelves or furniture.  They are not large enough to be floor-standing. 

What info do you need from me about size?

I use your product samples to take accurate measurements of your products.  However, there are a few other things to consider around size:

  • Ask your retailers how deep their shelving is.  They often use something specific, or have a clear idea of how much space they want the display to take up.  This is your "available footprint".
  • Ask your retailer how high their shelving is, or if there are other areas they don't want covered.  These are your "vertical details"  For example, sometimes I hear requests for a display to be high enough to block sightline to the cash register.  Or I hear a request that it must fit in an 8" gap below a shelf.  
  • Be aware of vertical sight lines.  Is there information on your product label you want to be able to see?  Do I need to make sure products on the shelf below don't cover it?  If you have preferences here please let me know.

Which materials to do you use?

I primarily use wood for displays. 

Corrugated, plastics and leather are sometimes an option.  These are used as details within a wood display.

What do you need to design a display for me?

  1. Your inspiration images, size details, wish list and and any other details you'd like me to  include in the design.
  2. Physical samples of each product going into the display.  They can be empty packages, as long as the full dimensions are present. 
  3. Your logo file.  

Samples can be popped in the mail or couriered.  All samples are returned to you with your finished display.  For high-value products like jewelry, detailed specs using a micrometer are acceptable.

    How much does it cost?

    I'm a stickler for providing exact estimates, but 3D displays are difficult to estimate without a file.  For this reason, price is broken down as follows:

    Design - I charge standard graphic design rates for the time it takes to design & test your display.  I can estimate this for you in advance. 

    Production - I can give you an accurate estimate for the display itself once the design is finished.  The estimate is based on how much material the display uses, how long it takes to cut, and how long it takes to assemble.  The price assumes you're ordering one prototype, or a few at a time.  If you plan to order 12+ displays let me know and I'll apply a volume discount.  

    Please note, design is a one-time charge (unless you request changes).  Once you've paid for your design, you only have to pay the production cost to create a display.  

    What is the process?

    1. You send samples, your logo, inspiration pics and your wish list to me.  
    2. Once a deposit is received I will return pencil sketches of 1 (occasionally 2) ideas to get your impressions and feedback.  
    3. Once a direction is confirmed I will created digital files, test the display construction and send you photos of a "rough cut".  
    4. With your feedback and revisions I will cut a final display and send you photos to get shipping approval.  
    5. Once I have approval your display (and any product samples) will be shipped to you.

    What do you send me?

    When your display is finished you'll receive your display(s) as well as the product samples you sent to me. 

    Displays arrive flat packed if they are a flat-pack style. Otherwise displays are shipped fully assembled.  If you're looking for component cutting so you can assemble yourself that's possible.  Just ask.

    How do I get started?

    The first step is to email me with your design ideas.  I will tell you how many hours it will take to design.  If you're ok with the time estimate, I will send you a payment link to take a deposit.  Then the design process can get started.

    What did you think of this post?  Was it helpful?  Let me know in the comments!

    To order a custom display start HERE.

    Business Marketing

    How Do I Order A Sign For My Business?

    I offer a lot of sign options so I thought I'd write a post to help .  I'll explain what I do first, then how to place an order. 

    Feel free to jump to the sections that interest you:

    What You'll Receive

    I make all of my signs from wood and either finish them in colour or etch them.  This gives them a unique vintage feel.   Your sign will have the appearance of a 1950's shop sign.  Wood signs have a slightly rustic feel.  Please keep this in mind if you're ordering for a corporate environment.  The signs below are for indoor use only.  We do offer outdoor signage.  If you need something for outdoor, or have a more corporate aesthetic please email me at orders@straightlaser.ca.

    What Are The Options?

    I offer three sign types: Cut Letter Signs, Dimensional SignsEtched Wood Signs.  

    Cut Letter Signs

    • Arrive as individual pieces. 
    • Can be finished in any colour including bare birch, solid & metallics.
    • You must lay them out on the wall.  (Optional Layout templates are available for purchase)
    • You must attach them to the wall yourself. (We include instructions on how to do this)
    • Are best for permanent installation.
    • Can be up to 8ft wide.

    Dimensional Signs

    • Arrive as one piece.
    • Can be finished in any colour including bare birch, solid & metallics.
    • Come with hanging loops at the back.
    • Great for permanent installation OR trade show use.  Easy to move around.
    • Can be up to 45" wide.

    Etched Wood Signs

    Custom Indoor Sign
    • Arrives as one piece.
    • Available in ONE colour only; wood background with dark brown etching.
    • Arrives unmounted so it can be framed or set on a shelf.
    • Can be upgraded to include loops at the back.
    • Can be up to 32" wide.

    Which One Should I Choose?

    The choice often comes down to how you'd like to use your sign.  It can also be affected by size.

    If you'd like to use it for a trade show choose a Dimensional Sign or Etched Wood Sign.  Dimensional and Etched Wood Signs are ready to display and easy to move. 

    If you're using your sign in an office space where it won't be moved, all three options work.  Cut Lettering can be made in larger sizes.  Dimensional and Etched Wood Signs come in smaller sizes.

    How Do I Determine Sizing?

    The Dimensional Wood Sign has more info under "Additional Info".  Click there then scroll to the bottom of the page for photos of each size, to scale, inside common trade show booth dimensions.  This should give you a good idea of how your sign will look when it's placed in your booth. 

    For Cut Lettering I suggest measuring your visible wall space.  That is any space you plan to include the signage in, minus any countertops that may be blocking the view:

    How To Measure My Office For A Sign

    Once you've measured leave a buffer of at least 1 foot all the way around.  From there, it's up to you how you'd like it to be laid out.  Some clients want to use the whole space, while others want their logo to take up a smaller footprint. 

    Etched Wood Signs have a smaller footprint than the above two styles.  Estimate using a ruler or piece of cardboard held up to the area you'd like to use it in to gauge scale.

    How Will My Sign Be Sized?

    When you're buying a sign on my website you're buying a footprintA footprint is the total area available for your sign.  It's not the actual dimensions of your sign. 

    Most logos do not match the exact proportions of the sign footprint.  When maxed out in the footprint, your logo will be either shorter or less wide than the footprint.  See the diagram below.  I will not stretch or squish your logo out of its original proportion.  This request will make the artwork looks distorted:

    Maintaining Image Proportions

    In sign making you can have length OR width, not both.  Your sign will either match the width measurement of the footprint, or the height.  You can't pick which one.  It's determined by how your logo naturally fills the space.  When I make your sign I'll expand your logo until it touches either the top or the sides of the footprint - whichever touches first. 

    Please select a footprint that roughly matches the proportion of your logo.  For example, if your logo is roughly square, choose a square footprint.  If your logo is a skinny rectangle, choose a footprint that is long and skinny.  In this way you can maximize the use of space and spend as little as possible on your sign.

    If you're looking for specific dimensions please send me an email and tell me the exact size you'd like.  Size can be specified in width only.  I do not work with letter height because it can change the size quite a bit.

    How Do I Place An Order?

    Though each sign is completely custom, almost all signs are covered under one of my three sign listings. 

    Choose the style you'd like (Dimensional, Cut Lettering or Etched Wood), pick a size, a mounting option if needed, then add to cart:

    How To Order A Sign

    As soon as you place the item in your cart a pop-up box will ask you detailed questions about what you'd like:

    How To Order A Custom Sign

    If there's anything else you'd like to add please send me an email.  I match all email requests to their order as soon as the order comes in.  

    What Else Do You Need From Me?

    As soon as you've placed your order please email me your logo file. 

    Vector files are the best files for sign making.  These are files that end in .ai, .eps. or .pdf.  If you're not a graphic designer but your designer has sent you files, it's often the file that won't open on your computer.  Please send this file.  It's the one I need.  

    If you didn't have a designer create your logo or you're not able to request a vector file from the original designer I can work with .jpg, .png and .tiff files.  Please send me the largest file you have.  If you have more than one to choose from pick the logo that appears largest on screen and has high KBs under "file size".

    Can You Make Me A Logo?  Make Changes To My Logo?  Lay My Sign Out Differently?

    Absolutely!  However, these aren't included in the sign price.  I'll cover small design jobs like converting .jpg files to vector files or adding a circular shape around your sign free of charge.  If your request involves more please email me your idea and I'll send you a quote. 

    A quick note: designing a logo is a big undertaking.  If you need a logo designed you should have a separate budget set aside for this job.

    What Happens Next?

    When an order comes in either myself or a studio assistant will look over the details, check your file and confirm the order is ready to go.  I work with each client one-by-one.  If I see issues or have a question I will contact you before moving forward.  

    As a general rule I don't provide sign proofs because your sign will look identical to your logo file.

    Once your order is confirmed you won't hear from me for a little while.  Signs take 2-3 weeks to finish.  As soon as your sign is finished you'll get an email with a tracking number telling you it's been shipped.

    If you've shared a deadline date with me I make note of it and ensure your sign arrives on time.  Your sign will ship on time to arrive by your deadline date. 

    What About Rush Orders?  

    Please contact me at least 4 weeks before you need your sign.  Rush orders are occasionally possible but signs must have curing time.  That's a stage that can't be rushed.  If you email me I can let you know what's possible, but please understand the time estimates I give you are not negotiable because the sign itself takes time to make.  

    What did you think of this post?  Was it helpful?  Let me know in the comments!

    To order a sign for your business check out options in the SHOP.