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Mill -vs- Laser

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Joined: 30 May 2004
Posts: 851
Location: Waco, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:36 am    Post subject: Mill -vs- Laser Reply with quote

I have been asked to do a comparison between the 3d waxmill and the laser welder.

I don't consider myself a big boy in the jewelry industry. I own a small retail custom jewelry store and do work for the trade.

My ultimate goal is to get completely out of the trade end of the business and focus my attention strictly on custom manufacturing. That's what I love doing and I think I'm fairly good at it.

I bought a Rofin Starweld laser welder about 4 years ago and the mdx-15 about 9 months ago. I have gotten spoiled to both machines and can't work without either now. Both are big money makers, time savers and allow me to perform work only dreamed of years ago, and they work extremely well together.

However, if I had to do it all over again, I would have bought the mdx-15 first. It actually makes me more profit per hour than the laser welder.

The training I recieved on the laser was horrible. I recieved a "one day" training package that actually took about 3 hours to complete and then got the "pleasure" of touring a factory and getting a great sales pitch for the rest of the day... I did get my lunch bought for me though. The additional training I recieved was on my own through trial and error, and I have learned some things that even the folks who sold me the laser don't know- and I'm not about to "train" them on it. However, in their defense, the customer support for the welder is great! Anytime there is a problem, an answer and solution is only a phone call away.

Support and training for the mill is even better! I can honestly say I am truly impressed with Jeff's commitment to helping and training me on the mill. This forum is filled with tons of great info and anytime I get stuck on something, Jeff or another member is always willing to help out!

As far as costs go...
The laser welder cost about $30,000. The yearly expenses include replacing filters, flash lamp, and argon gas. These cost about $800.00 - $1000.00 annually.
The 3d waxmill cost $3,000 and I have yet to spend anything on maintenence.

It's a no brainer to me. I wish I would have known about the waxmill 4 years ago.

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Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 188
Location: North Wilkesboro NC

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:10 pm    Post subject: Thanks for info Ken Reply with quote

Ken I to almost went down the laser road, even signed the purchase order. But as fate would have it I could not get the lease to agree with my budget. I felt that because my competitor in town had one that I was doomed. Then I discovered Jeff in Southern Jewelry News. I began looking into building my custom business because that has always been my strength; and 3d custom work is the future.I am so glad that it has worked out the way it has. My custom business is way up. the projects I am doing are higher dollar...with less work I might add....and I still do enough general bench work to keep my other jeweler busy. I am sure there are jobs where the laser would have been very valuable but as Ken says when you compare the cost to income bottom line the mill has many times paid for itself. I still feel that it's the custom work we do that will always seperate us independents from the big box and chain operations. But if I do reach a point in the future that I could put a laser in then I will jump on the chance, in the mean time I am looking at a PUK pulse arc welder, while my mill is churning out profits.

Happy Milling
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