Laser Machine Running Costs

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Running Costs

What Are The Running Costs?

The accurate running costs of any machine are difficult to calculate. This is because they depend on so many variables. However, for the purpose of this guide we will consider the following three points:

1. Power Consumption

All the laser machines need a PC to operate. With this in mind, we will include the power required for an average PC (800VA) and all of the peripherals supplied with the laser. This will give a more realistic figure. We will also estimate using 10p per Kw/hr for electricity:

CO2 Engravers 2140 VA 21.4 p/hr
CO2 Cutters 2480 VA 24.8 p/hr

2. Consumables: Mirrors, Lens and Laser Tubes

These consumables vary in expected life depending on the power setting being used. It is good practice, when choosing a machine, to ensure you have 'power in hand' - to buy a machine that is adequately rated for the work you expect to do. Opinions on the percentage of maximum power vary from company to company, usually between 50% and 75%. We will use 75% to base our estimates on.

The other parameters to be considered are the time to load jobs and the time to cut/engrave (laser on). Cutting is faster than engraving so loading time is a higher percentage of machine running time when cutting. As for laser usage, engraving uses lower power settings compared to cutting, so laser usage is greater when cutting. It is our experience that these two issues cancel each other out for the purpose of estimation. We will estimate based on 75% laser usage although the average is closer to 60% in real usage.
Below are the estimated consumable costs per hour of machine on time:

CO2 Engravers 25 p/hr
CO2 Cutters 51 p/hr

3. Maintenance

The 'end of shift' maintenance and weekly procedures for the laser machines should take no more than an average of 15 minutes. This is to make sure the machine is ready for use the next time it is required. General housekeeping, removing debris from the bed of the machine, is done on a progressive basis as the machine is being used. This has been taken into account in the costing above. Other than that, a light oiling of the linear slides is all that is required.

The amount of contamination on these slides will vary depending on the material being processed. The mirrors and lens will occasionally require cleaning. This is a fairly simple but delicate operation, which is carried out as part of the normal maintenance contract. You can do this job yourself, there is no 'black art' to it; all that is required is care and common sense. It would normally take about an hour.

Following a mirror cleaning, the alignment should always be checked. If care was used, then there will be no realignment needed (but it MUST be checked).

Full procedures are available from CTRfuture Ltd. on request.