Laser engraving is an art but you can also turn it into a lucrative business venture.
Getting started with laser engraving is easy, but you will need to choose the right equipment and decide if you are going to focus on a particular niche engraving service.
Here is an overview of what features to look for with your laser cutter, along with details of how to learn on the job and ideas for setting up your own business.
Create customized objects
Laser engraving does require a certain set of skills. Once acquired, you can learn how to create customized objects that are bespoke, beautifully crafted, and highly saleable.
You need to develop some unique skills, but these skills do not require a formal education. It is more important to gain some hands-on experience and watch your technique improve as a result.
The search for perfection
The reason why laser engraving is considered an art form is that there is little margin for error when working on photo engraving or creating engraved ornaments.
It is a good idea to learn your craft and hone your skills as a hobbyist. Once you have reached a certain standard you can consider offering your services as an artist.
As a laser engraver, you will need a metal laser cutter and some graphic design software.
Look for an adaptable laser cutting system, one that is capable of cutting most materials from wood to acrylic and plastic. This helps with setup costs when you only need minimal equipment.
A graphic software package will let you design and illustrate your creation that is ready for printing to your chosen material.
There are numerous ways to earn an income from laser engraving. You might decide to offer etched glasses for weddings or create a niche providing custom signage.
About a third of all engravers work for themselves and run their own business. The rest tend to find work in retail or in wholesale employment. If you have a creative and entrepreneurial flair, engraving can be a profitable business.
Another potential career route would be to find some paid work, at first, to gain valuable experience, allowing you the opportunity to launch your own business once you have more confidence and know-how.
There is a lot to be said for gaining professional training. Completing a rigorous training process lasting about 12 months will set you on your way.
This period could also highlight what types of engraving work you prefer and what your skills are most suited to.
Training can be based on technique or material. It might be a combination of the two. Once your apprenticeship is completed, you will be better placed to pursue various career or business options.
There are no strict formal educational requirements for engravers. But it can be worth looking at some extra options to further your knowledge and experience.
A curriculum covering art history, drawing, and illustration concepts could provide an excellent foundation for your career as an engraver.
Check with your local community college and art center to see if you can enroll in a course focused on specific engraving techniques. It will accelerate your learning curve when you are taught laser engraving techniques in a class environment.
Your local college might offer a degree program in gemology and jewelry. This will provide you with a broader education but if it includes engraving as part of the curriculum, it may be useful.
Focus on courses that include computer-aided design, jewelry design, metal casting and polishing. These are all useful skills and can help provide an excellent educational foundation.
Become a specialist
Your engraving business could really take off if you pick a specialist area of engraving where there is strong demand.
If you decide to concentrate on engraving glassware or jewelry, for example, it can help you quickly build a reputation and client base.
Research the chosen niche market to confirm the potential for regular work. Consider making contact with companies who could be interested in your engraving services. For instance, wedding planners would be a potential source of business if you are engraving glassware.
So many options
There are many different options when it comes to laser engraving. The endless variety of wood projects highlights this fact. With cabinet doors and boxes providing just two examples of suitable engraving ideas.
Think about testing your engraving skills on a variety of different materials. This will give you inspiration for new business ideas and allow you to develop a niche.
Discover laser engraving and you might uncover a talent that you can turn into a career and a business.