Protohaven Member Forum

Who wants to make things on our laser for money?

We (as TechShop did before) routinely get requests for laser cutting and other services. And right now we certainly have time available on the laser.

Anyone up for it?

“What does it pay?”

Seriously, as a consultant/contractor, that’s my first question. My hourly varies from short jobs to year-long contracts.

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I’m somewhat interested. Will you be in the shop at all this weekend? I could drop by to discuss details.

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Along the lines of what Jet said, I suggest simply posting the jobs and offered rate. In fact, you might want to consider making up a page where non-members (and members) can submit said jobs and have it automatically posted to the job board category. Set a prominent link to it on the protohaven.org home page. Include a scope and offered rate/amount so people can quickly decide whether or not to contact the person.

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This is easy for companies who know exactly what they want and exactly what they’ll pay for it. The complication there is that they often want a personal recommendation rather than an open call.

But a lot of what we get are inquiries from people who don’t have a good reference point in terms of what to expect.

I’d be willing to do a fair bit of work on Protohaven’s side to help member(s) who are willing to make this an easy, predictable system for people who submit the inquiries.

Just let me know if you’re interested.

Yep! I’m here now and will be until 6.

The time I spend giving people quotes is time I’m not making money and I have given out many quotes where the response is that my prices are outrageous and they’ll get their college kid to cut it for free at the Uni. What, like you thought I was going to do it for minimum wage and counting only the hours at the laser cutter?

Say I spend an hour on the quote, then a couple of hours procuring and prepping the media, then setting up the job, then running the job. We could be talking 8 hours, and that’s assuming no setup fee. If the client has a single image and wants “as many as possible” out of a piece of media, there’s CAD time making that happen that someone needs to pay for.

If you just want someone to literally load a prepared DXF, set the cut settings to known values and press “cut”, sure you can find a student for < $20/hr to run the machine. However, you have prepped the media, delivered it to the cut shop; you also know the cut values for the laser cutter; and you prepared the DXF for that size media.

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I am interested! My schedule and rate are both flexible.

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Yep, I think we’ve all been there. The best systems I’ve seen for this either have automated quoting (like https://www.sculpteo.com/en/ and several others, or from one of Pittsburgh’s own: https://www.plethora.com/) or example projects with how much they cost (like https://www.freelancer.com/showcase) to give customers an idea of what to expect so neither side wastes the other’s time.

As part of a past project, a friend of mine and I actually made an automated quoting engine. These work really well if it’s run by one company that can put in the upfront time to create the right pricing algorithm and cover the costs on edge cases that break it (which inevitably happens). But when there are several producers and more complex operations in the system, it’s a lot harder. I know some companies are working on this, like https://www.cutquote.com/, but it’s a hard sell to producers who see a lot of upfront work and are afraid of being stuck with an underquoted job.

All this is to say that I think giving customers some kind of expectations up front (like example jobs and how much they cost since automated pricing can be a pain) makes everyone’s life easier for these kinds of jobs. Indeed, it you already have a lot of inbound work, this whole system might not make sense.

But if someone in Pittsburgh needs something made, I’d love those orders to go to our members who are up for it rather than an online service that has to ship things.