Laser marking job shops get their business from clients that either don't have sufficient parts volume to justify owning a system or simply don't want to own the technology...
Laser marking job shops typically operate at shop rates of $60-$100 per hour. The cost of marking a part should have nothing to do with the value of the part (unless the shop needs to cover its risk of mismarking and scrapping an expensive part).
Shop efficiencies have a lot to do with how many parts an hour can be processed by a laser marker. The number of parts processed per hour is determined by how much information has to be marked and how much time is consumed handling the part. Handling consists of removing the part from whatever packaging it arrived in, accurately locating the parts on a fixture under the lens and returning the part to its original packaging after marking.
The actual marking time is generally fast and in many cases the handling time exceeds the marking time. If a marking job shop has a shop rate of $80 per hour and the mark consists of a logo or part number on a credit card sized piece of anodized aluminum and the parts arrive bulk packed (not individually wrapped) then an operator might be able to process 5 parts a minute or 300 parts and hour through the marker. Using a shop rate of $80 per hour, the cost to mark each part would be $0.27 and probably be marked up to $0.30 to actually achieve an $80 per hour shop rate. There is typically a machine setup charge for each part type and a non recurring graphic charge if a logo or graphic is to be marked or if there is complicated programming. Extensive unpackaging and/or re-packaging is usually an additional charge.
Whether or not it makes sense to use a job shop depends on several things. One might ask themselves the following:
- Do I have enough work to keep an in house machine busy enough hours in the day to justify the equipment cost?
- Even if I own a laser marker, do I have sufficient trained personnel to operate it?
- Does my production schedule allow me enough time to send my parts to an outside laser marking shop?
- Are my shipping costs to send work out prohibitive?
- Can I trust an outside marking shop with my product?
- Can I do it more cheaply in house if I own a marking system?
This post was published on June 9, 2011 and updated on October 15, 2014.