Quoting and Pricing

Thought Id chime in as a business owner. First off figure our material cost. 1/8" carbon steel cheapest I’v found it sheered in half is $110 4x8 sheet. That’s about $3.50 a sq ft. This is PA pricing and let me say prices are all over the board, some places are $50 more for the same thing.

Biggest thing to consider is this. If you are a home garage hobby guy not paying taxes. then you can charge a very low rate. With the market these days seems like everyone can get a hold of a cnc machine and or bigger companies that can produce parts much faster are hard to compete with. Gotta learn somewhere and this is a great start, but extremely limited. So I’d suggest find your niche. Shipping these days is insanely expensive for small business. If any of you think $80 and hour is expensive you have not run a business. Overhead and payroll are not cheap and material, equipment etc isn’t either.

With all these media outlets these days its so much different than say 10 years ago if you tried to build a company. The outlets are beyond easy these days, but… also more competition. Again back to the niche’ thing. If you have better design and programming skills than most, then you can flourish. Better prices, turnaround and friendly attitude, you’ll do better than others. Don’t expect to make a full time living right away, there are people out there that have been doing this for a very long time. Experience has value. There are limitations to cnc plasma. Hard to compete with shops that have hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment. But I fully think anyone can make their money back off this machine. This thing has helped me out so much so far. Still learning and thats what is fun about it.


You might need to slow the torch. Or change your design - be careful how tight or fine a detail you’re trying to cut. With the plasma kerf there are going to be things you can draw that won’t cut because they’re too close together, the kerf is too wide, lead-in is too large, etc. Too fine a piece can also turn out sharp and pointy if it dies cut.

I widen things a bit when taking a design from the laser to the plasma to account for the larger kerf of the plasma.

directioneast is right about shipping, holly mother of monkeys!

That bad ? I guess ya just gotta pass it on to the customer

yeah, but depends on what you’re making. For instance my lil throttle bracket, I’m competing with low prices of 30 bucks including shipping…I sold mine for 28 including shipping, it fit in a usps box for $7.20. If it did not then it woulda been 16$… so 28 then paypal charges 3.5% and then ebay takes 10%…total of 11$ in shipping and fees, left me with 17$ minus cost of material (which isn’t that much I give you that for this item) and shop time (cut, then prep and I do paint them black)…figure 15 min, use std shop time, idk 80 an hour (?) that’s 20 bucks…I just lost 3 bucks plus material LOL. Reduce shop rate to 50/h and I’m up 5 bucks minus material…I don’t see Champagne in the shop with that LOL…oh and if you have to pay income tax on that too…really I sell a couple things here and there in hope it’ll buy me some steel lol…or beers :slight_smile:


Yep when you really breakdown all the time and costs, you are not left with much. Like anything you have to think in production terms. I’v literally been crunching numbers on parts I’v been making. At my rate, I honestly feel like I want to outsource it already bc I can’t compete with a laser on quality and speed. It took me 20 min to cut out a sheet of 3/16 that didn’t even max out my table. I had so many holes in the brackets. (I’m trying not to regret getting a xp30 when I shoulda got the 45 for 4-500 more bucks. I could increase my cut speeds. Also bigger shops if they can buy in bulk they get better deals on steel. So its tuff to scale any business. You want costs down, well you gotta make tons of parts. On the flipside you better be able to sell a ton of parts. when shipping is a factor it really hurts. Folks these days will rarely pay for shipping. They want “FREE” shipping, thats the market and consumerism we have established. I firmly believe the big companies like amazon, ebay, walmart, target and a couple others have made it extremely hard for small business in America. On some parts I make shipping is atleast 12% of the cost. material is is %12.

One last business tip. I think I may dive into soon. Weebly has a really good web based site builder and store etc. You can pay $300 a year to have a full custom site with e commerce and they don’t take any fees on what you sell (from what I’v seen so far) do the math and that totally beats using paypal, ebay and bigcartel (my webstore). If you are selling a decent amount it will surely pay for itself quick.

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True. So you have to bump your price by what it will cost to ship it most anywhere in the country.

Art pieces might be exempt from needing free shipping but even there I think it causes a pause. If someone won’t pay $100 shipping included, will they pay $75+$25 shipping? I think the first way they say “I’d pay $100 for that” but in the second case they might tend to say “I’d pay $75 for that” and then balk at the shipping maybe even though the total is the same. The price establishes value in their heads and shipping isn’t seen as part of the price/value but as an added cost.

I agree there. But its all marketing. occasionally I’ll pay for shipping if I compare it to something that has free shipping. The shipping with most companies is def pre factored and we’ve been conditioned to only want “free” shipping. Its like the ol 9.99 seems better than $10, petty but that’s how we seem to roll here. Small scale custom stuff I don’t think its as huge as a factor.

another note for you guys is, ask your steel suppliers to price you on what is called “drops” they are left over pieces from their orders. They usually sell them for scrap price, and or you can buy less at a time. Just another option. I got a piece of 1/8" 22"x48" for $19. thats about $2.45 a sq ft which is about $1 cheaper than buying it in full sheet per sq ft cost.

good call on asking about drops, I’ve not thought of that…

I buy drops. Go in and pick off the floor and scraps against the wall. They charge me by the pound. Works out pretty well.

The local onlinemetals sells packs of these by the pound - $1/lb for any steel and $2/lb for aluminum. But they’re not so good at weighing things…buy a 5lb pack and you’ll walk out with 15 :blush:

I contacted sendcutsend which does laser cutting. Def not cheaper to outsource in low qty. a 23.5x 23.5 sheet of cold rolled 10g is $199 shipped to you. If the design doesnt have a lot of pierces. granted this is laser cut and they are doing the programming (which is valuable in my mind). But…my material cost (not including cutting the sheet down as that takes time) is about $14 for a 2x2 11g aka 1/8". So that is a big gap. But should give you guys an idea on pricing. If companies like them are out there charging $200 for a 2x2 sheet of 10g which would yield maybe 2 decent size signs give or take. One could get a good idea on the market pricing.

Maybe, maybe not.

If you’re providing a digital file - SVG or DXF (PDF even) then it’s the same “programming” you already did.

I typically run a 50% sized test on my laser using fiberboard to test a design for the plasma. That same file is imported into Fusion, resized and toolpaths defined.

Not saying they’re not doing anything, but real design work goes for 60-100 per hour and most charge in 1 hour increments.

wish online metal sold drops for sheetmetal, they do for tubing but I did not see it for sheet metal

Mine calls them “protoboxes” and they can have all sorts of different stuff. But if I’m picking up & I tell them in the comments box for the order that I’ll pick the pieces they take me to the cutoff bin in the warehouse and I can pick what I want.

If yours does that remember to bring gloves :slightly_smiling_face:

So here’s a thought that puts things in my market into perspective for me. I did the lighting for this 1/4 black powder coated address. It was about 30"x20". The guy who cut it changed $750. He outsourced the PC.

So what would the average metal cost be for a sign that size, and what would you have charged? The led lighting included a wireless wall controller and i charged $200. So the customer paid $950 + the electrician to install it. I’m not sure what he charged, but I bet a minimum of $150.

So all in $1100 for a simple sign on standoffs.

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Puts my market into perspective also. I give away way to much stuff.:woozy_face:


I know it’s an old thread. But I have a question on shipping.

How do you guys package your signs? And what’s cheapest way to ship?

I don’t plan on doing many more signs that I am shipping, but wife’s cousin asked us to make her one. I am just wrapping it in cardboard and shipping it out today. But think there should be a better way.

Every time we send her something package is shredded by the time it gets down to her. Worried it’s going to get bent or something.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

Don’t worry about it. Its metal a hammer will fix it. :crazy_face:

Heavy cardboard is all I ever used.


Well I it was to a mechanical able person I wouldn’t worry lol.

$18 standard mail. $22 priority. Don’t know how you all make money on signs😭

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