Hourly cost for plasma table

Not that I am running a business, but l was wondering what is the cost of running a plasma table.
You have the purchase price divided by the useful life of the machine, electrical cost, dry air cost, consumable cost, operator cost, overhead of heat , lighting, floor space, etc.
Anyone work out the specifics?

Too many variables, I don’t overthink it.
Know the client, know the competition. Put a price that you know your client will pay and a figure you know will put bread on your table with extra for Johnny’s college fund and to buy the shop more toys.
That’s how I do it, and if that’s not met, then it may not be worth doing.


My thought is any new friends who find out l can make things for them will need to buy shop supplies in exchange for the parts.
Old friends get free stuff because I owe them.


I look at 3 factors for job quotes. R&D/Design time, Shop time and Material cost. All three have cost + profit figured in. Always estimate on the high side…that way you get some wiggle room for those who like to haggle over the price. That’s how I do it.

I don’t do that. Once you haggle, then you can’t stop and the race to the bottom has begun. Just a question of when you’re going to bail out and stop having that customer.

Reminds me of the old joke:
Man & woman sitting at a bar, man turns to the woman and says “would you like to go to my place and have some fun?”
Woman says, “not on your life, I don’t even know you”
Man says, “if I gave you a million dollars would you come over and have some fun?”
Woman says, “well, for a million dollars maybe”
Man says, “how about $100 then?”
Woman says, “what kind of woman do you think I am?”
Man says, “we’ve already established that, now we’re just settling on a price”


I see your point and I’ve heard that joke too! (and still funny).


How do you calculate electrical cost?

Figure out what you pay per kW/hr

Find out the amps of (and voltage of) your plasma cutter under load (at the wall)

Find out how many amps (and voltage of) your compressor uses (at the wall)

Estimate a duty cycle for your compressor. Does it run all the time you cut? 50% of the time? 20%?

{(Cut time in hrs * plasma amps * plasma volts) + (cut time in hrs * compressor duty cycle * compressor amps * compressor volts)} *.001 * cost per kW/hr


¢10 per kW/hr
Plasma: 30A @220v
Compressor: 16A @220v @25%
Cut time: 6min

{(.1 * 30 * 220) + (.1 * .25 * 16 * 220)} * .001 * ¢10 =
(660+88) * .001 * ¢10 = ¢7.48

Or just make a wild a$$ guess and build it into your hourly rate. I’ve not included the table, because it’s a fraction of what the plasma and compressor use.

Even a large plasma and compressor combined with the table would have trouble pulling $2-3/hr in electricity at ¢10-20 per kW/hr.

Thanks @MrHaNkBoT
That helps a lot.
I am under time of use plan. Rates run .30-.60 in socal.
The WAG was going to be to wait for my first bill after getting up and running.
Sourcing parts to have service panel upgraded has proven time consuming.
Thanks again.

I will chime in here as I review companies for operational efficiencies/opportunities to either restructure or monitize in some capacity in my day job which is why I have a plasma table so I can get away from my day job! :smile: If this is for a hobby then comes down to covering basis costs of the project which is most likely materials, consumables etc. However, if you want to operate it as cash flow positive business then you need to cover all of your costs which as noted above is Electrical, Insurance, Rents, Design time, equipment (and depreciation to replacement costs), Material and Material handling (milage or pick up costs like gas etc.) etc etc. That number will be your hourly rate of your shop in which to gauge whether that project is worth turning the lights on when you walk in the door every morning. I have reduced this to a very basic process and it can and usually is more complex but most business fail because of cash flow which is usually understated in most small business. I digress… I am goin back to read about projects I want to build! :slight_smile:

I have given this a lot of thought and with so many variables I decided to simplify my bidding to a percentage. I figured while I was working on a job I was always using a tool like grinders with consumable disks and wire wheels, plasma table and consumables, electricity, chemicals, etc. so I kept track of a labor intensive job and every little cost including electricity, half a paddle disc, 1/10 off a plasma consumables, I even amortized the cost of my table over a 2 year period based on a certain amount of usage. What I came up with is after I figure my time I add 5%. I’m pretty confident my shop costs are covered with that 5%. This is just an example though. This is something you need to figure for your shop. My table gets used as part of a fabrication hobby shop out of my home garage. If your business was centered around your table cutting signs all day then your costs would have to be figured differently or if you were paying for rent on a building. If you take the time to figure every single little cost on a few jobs and convert that into a percentage of your time then bidding shop/table costs can be made much easier.

Interesting, I do a lot of the costing for my employer (OEM Design Mfg). Raw material, outside processing, labor and burden on labor (is provided by accounting). It is the this rate for my hobby I am getting my arms around. Hidden costs…

At 5% overhead you must pay yourself handsomely :wink:

With your job function then I am probably not tellingyou anything new then but Its is usually easier to work the math backwards. What is the range of price competitors prices their work at and you can quickly determine if your efficient enough or hungry enough to compete taking into considerations for your costs. I have a Fab shop that is more fun than business so its easy for me to figure out if the economics make it worth my time or if I would enjoy it simply to gain skills or try a new challenge. if I wanted to run it as a full commercial business I would need somewhere around $74-$78 an hour billable time to cover costs which includes my labor. That is higher than most welding shops but lower than most machine shops in my area. Again, that assumes I am depreciating all of my equipment, purchasing additional liability insurance (more to cover something I might break!), family heath insurance and taking into considerations all of my shop related expenses. The simple number is estimating what you want to earn and dividing it by the number of work hours to get your theoretical hourly wage rate. The difference between your competition rate and your wage rate is your shop rate which then is your gross margin shop rate. If its negative well… :smile:

Well like I said each shop needs to figure in their own costs. Mine is a hobby shop with no overhead so I make a little money here and there to fund my hobby but as an example I’m working on a 14ft table base. I figured 10 hrs of shop time @ 45/hr + 5%= 472.50. That extra $22.5 just needs to pay for a few flap disks, a few bucks of electricity, a few dollars for a couple parts cut on the table and a few dollars to keep from each job to pay for a new band saw blade or a broken angle grinder (HF 20 bucks) To clarify my shop time + 5% doesn’t include welding supplies or raw materials. Welding supplies is easier to figure per inch of welding. I’m sure an industrial outfit will need to figure a much higher percentage of overhead.

This is for fun. Trying to figure out how much the fun is going to cost and if I ever charge anyone for anything or sell something I’ve made, how much that should be.

generaly any money I make in the shop goes to my sushi fund. I have used 60.00 dollars an hour as my shop rate when anybody asks what I charge

Thanks everyone for your info. I will refer back to this if someone balks at a dollar a minute for a cost.
I remember being in a lawyer’s office for work, and he said his rate was $350 per hour. The boss made a comment that was a lot for a person and his office. He said we didn’t get that for a 700 ton injection molding press that cost $700,000 and ate electricity like there’s no tomorrow.
The lawyer just smiled.

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Howdy All!
I’m currently working thru my options on cost of use for my plasma table and thought I would provide my unsolicited $.02 to an old thread.

A friend of mine that owns a precision machine shop said the following when I told him I was charging by the inch - “you’re losing a lot of money that way, your customer needs to assume that you cut everythign out precisely with a cutoff disc, not a CNC table”

I think about this often. I started in the automotive world paying for tools and experience to make myself a better technician. To me this seems like the same scenario.

Establish an hourly rate and charge a 1-2 hour minimum for machine usage.


I think that would have been absolutely great advice 10 years ago. Now the market has a way higher saturation of plasma tables so you’re not competing against other guys with cutoff discs you’re competing against other guys with plasma tables.

I agree though don’t sell your self short.

If you’re selling art sell it as art don’t work it into a per inch price if your prototyping sell it as prototyping don’t sell it as a per inch price.


I like this idea of a minimum charge out. a guy can surely lose a lot of time to 5minute jobs.