I work with a range of product developers, each with different needs and areas of specialization. The prices I quote can vary from client to client. 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 I would break all this down to clarify. This will give you an idea of what services the studio is providing to you in your quote (hint - it's not strictly cutting). It's also a way for me to share what goes into the job of product development. If you're new to creative and technical design you may be surprised to find out how much work it takes to take and idea and make it into a real product. If you're an experienced designer it might show areas where you can better streamline your order to save money. No matter where you are, I'll give you some tips on how to save money on laser cutting.
Let's start with 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 Material Thickness Used in This Studio, Patchy Vector Lines Have Been Repaired To Form Continuous Cutting Lines, Unlinked Type Has Been Linked Or Bridged, You Have A Clear Understanding Of Materials & Their Attributes, You've Chosen A Suitable Material Without Advice, You Will Be Handling ALL Finishing Processes (sanding, painting, assembly, etc.)
What You Pay For: Set Up Fee & Cutting
Who You Are Hiring: Straight Laser is a Piece Goods Manufacturer to you.
How To Save Money: Make the best use of your set up fee, material panels and shipping costs by ordering in quantity. As with any manufacturing process, once the set up is done and changes minimized, your costs will drop significantly. Order repeats through the same service provider to save money.
PRODUCT Businesses EMPLOYING 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, hire them to fully complete the product you'd like to create. Otherwise we can help do the design work to complete the product you'd like to have created. Graphic design needs to happen either in your business or in this studio (you can't skip it). Get clear on the exact sizing you need and read the list of materials we stock in the studio to know what's available. The more you can have these things decided on before you contact us 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 HAND DRAWN 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. We provide this service in the studio. Please ask us for a quote or hire another designer. 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 we can process and try to align your project with a material we 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.
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 set up process. I hope that by describing the product development job I've shown you a few areas where you can do some prep work to lower your laser cutting costs.
Thank you for reading. Was this post helpful? Questions? Let me know in the comments!