Anyone work with a CNC laser cutter?

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  • Anyone work with a CNC laser cutter?
  • Hello,
    I use a metal stencil for some artwork on a regular basis. A mate was watching me work and said a CNC cutter could make a piece of metal with several of the stencils cut into it thus letting me do multiple artworks in one go. I have a large order and think this may speed it up.

    Anyone in this trade know approx how much a one off 23cm x 20cm bit of metal with 8 matching object cut out from it will cost. Ideally I’m looking for an approx figure so I can decide if its worth while. I can provide an accurate template.

    …hope that’s not too much of a how longs a bit if string question.

    What metal? Mild steel (cheap) or something exotic? (Less cheap)
    Also how thick is the material? Are you providing the material?

    Premier Icon muddydwarf

    I used to work at a place that did laser cutting – i did the non-ferrous stuff that the lasers would melt.

    To be honest it will all depend on how complex the patterns are & how long it would take to program them – we used to charge £45 per hour for programming and that was several years ago.
    It would probably be a little on the expensive side as it would be a one off therefore the company wouldn’t expect to gain any return orders from the program.

    Might be worth looking up some local laser cutters though as work is tight and they may well be willing to do the job for a reasonable price.

    The type if metal doesn’t matter so long as I can heat it slightly, my current stencil is aluminium. I wouldn’t be providing the material.

    To counter what muddydwarf is saying I wouldn’t expect to pay more than an hour for programming, and that’s just for buggeration as it’s a one off. Assuming we’re talking 2d laser cutting (and you’re providing the CAD geometry) the software should create the NC code automatically once you’ve inputted the geometry.

    Premier Icon footflaps

    Google CNC Plasma Cutters – loads of online places do what you’re asking:

    Premier Icon muddydwarf

    Mild steel in a small gauge would be best for you then – 18’s gauge i would suggest.

    Premier Icon muddydwarf

    What are the patterns?
    Will you provide the CAD or just some drawings?

    Thanks everyone, now I have a better idea of what I’m asking for. Found a place locally I will ring up in the morning. If I’m honest I didn’t know if this would be a sub £100 job thus making it worthwhile to me.

    I’ve no experience of pricing small jobs like this (although I am experienced with c02 lasers), but I wouldn’t expect to pay much for this sort of job, 150 notes? The cost will be in the buggeration of it being a small job.

    You’re using so little material they’ll just use an off cut. If I was cutting that job I could have it programmed and cut in less than an hour, its really that quick.

    The pattern in a silhouette that’s become my trademark in my artwork its a simple outline. I can provide a to scale .jpeg .psd etc

    Cheers for the replies

    It’ll be cheapest if you can provide it in .iges or .dxf format.

    I believe there are downloadable software that can convert jpegs to a cadd format, but I’ve never used any

    Premier Icon cp

    It will cost a good chunk more then if you can’t provide the cad.

    Maybe download some free 2d cad software like draftsight, which will enable you to send companies a dxf file (2d cad file) which they can import straight to their cam software

    Thanks looking at the software now.


    Where are you mate? Local to Glasgow ?


    We use aluminum stencils for smt production and they cost around £150, size is about 2′ x 2′, we do all the cad though which would be £150-200 extra!

    Premier Icon stavromuller

    The nice people at Ernest Gill’s in Halifax do mine. If you need contact details, just ask

    Thanks for the replies, I’m in Cheshire. Googling it seems £150ish if I supply the CAD. Just thinking if its worth the outlay/time saved. Very helpful cheers all


    Most water/laser cutters have a minimum order (usually around £40 to £50) i’m sure you’re simple little job will fall into that category! If you can provide them with a .dxf file (plenty of free 2d cad packages to make those) then they don’t really even have any set up time. Assuming say you made it out of a sheet of 16gauge ally, the material costs are going to be low too (<£10 easily)

    If you don’t mind doing a little bit of hand finishing afterwards (slight deburr etc) then they will charge you evenless (because they can speed up the cutting / use old nozzles)

    Google for your closest provider of water jet / laser cutting!


    Where abouts? I may have some contacts.


    cp – Member

    It will cost a good chunk more then if you can’t provide the cad.

    It shouldn’t do.
    All the companies I’ve worked with can change any picture file to CAD, and CAM takes no operator time at all for something as described by the OP.

    Thanks everyone, I will look into other cutting methods I only mentioned laser as this is what a mate suggested. If I’m honest £40-£50 is more in the price area were this would be beneficial in cost/time saved so possibly water cut and a bit of filing myself is the way to go.

    I’m in Chester Marcus.

    Thanks again.


    How big would whole design be, and does it really have to be in metal. I have use of a laser plastic cutter that can cut upto 10mm acrlic if that is of any help?

    Thanks for the replies, I’m in Cheshire. Googling it seems £150ish if I supply the CAD

    Way too much. The laser cutters I use charge £40 minimum. If you can provide material and DXF of the profile you want cutting it shouldn’t be much more than this.

    whats up with a vinyl cutter

    yeah you can only use them once ,peel and stick but they probably cost a quid each


    I can cut stencils in plastic on our C02 laser, we can work from just about any file type and any size up to 900mm x 600mm. 1.5mm plastic stencil of the size you mention would be about £40 – £50 +P&P and VAT.
    I would need to see the complexity of the files as it can take ages if they are complex. I can also do them as vinyl stencils, single use though and it depends what you are applying them to and where.
    We have just had a morning of trying to get stencil vinyl to apply to some large steel structures in low temp and it’s been a pain in the..

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