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How to calculate laser cutting costs?

How to calculate the Laser cutting costs?

In contrast to other processes, laser technology allows very precise and burr-free cuts to be made on sheet metal and other materials. This makes many high-precision cuts possible in the first place.

In this artical, the cost check expert explains how the costs of laser cutting are calculated and how high they generally are.

What does laser cutting cost?

The costs naturally vary in individual cases. The decisive factors in determining what laser cutting costs are always the cut length, the cutting accuracy, the complexity of the cut and the material thickness. Basically, it can be assumed that thick materials and complicated cuts naturally cause higher costs than simple cuts with thinner material thicknesses.

Today, work is mainly done with fiber lasers or co2 laser. If other laser technologies are used, the prices may vary.

One must always differentiate between the costs:

  • Machine uptime
  • Set-up time for the machine
  • Apportionment costs of the company
  • This essentially comprises the costs of laser cutting.

Machine running time

The machine running time is the basic calculation factor for the laser cutting power. The longer the laser runs, the more expensive it becomes.

In most cases, around 1 dollor per minute of machine running time, i.e. 60 usd/h, is used as the basis for calculating the pure machine costs. This means that, in addition to the machine costs, a part of the apportionment costs is often already covered, i.e. the price calculated for customers already includes the working time.

The pure machine costs on a technical level (wear of the laser tube, filter load, power consumption) amount to only a few cents per minute for most lasers.

How long the laser has to work depends of course always on the length of the cutting edge, the complexity of the cut and the material thickness.

Set-up time for the machine

Before the machine can even cut, a set-up time is required. Depending on the workpiece being machined, the setup time and the set-up time may vary. Even with simple retooling, this can take as little as 2 – 5 minutes.

In general, this time is taken into account to the same extent as the pure cutting time. This can vary from company to company and always depends on the individual cuts to be made.

This also explains why larger quantities of identical pieces are usually offered at lower prices, as in this case there is no separate set-up time for each individual piece.

Apportionment costs

In addition to the pure labour costs, a company must also take account of apportionment costs. This is a multitude of different costs, which start with the maintenance costs for the company building, wage and ancillary wage costs for the employees, apportioned acquisition and maintenance costs for the machines, but also include payable taxes and fees, material, ordering and shipping costs and the profit of the entrepreneur.


The calculated overhead costs always depend on the individual calculation of a company, in the end this individual calculation leads to price differences in the offer in detail.

Other possible costs

The basic requirement for receiving a calculated offer from companies is an existing, appropriately prepared DXF file of the workpiece. Some companies also accept STEP files or CAD files.

After the file has been handed over, the desired material and surface treatment can be selected. Only then can companies develop a price.

Those who cannot or do not want to produce a DXF file themselves must expect additional costs to have the file produced.

What do the costs for laser cutting in general depend on?

To be considered here:

  • Which material is used in which size and material thickness
  • How complex the cut is
  • The total length of the cut edges
  • Which processing costs (machine costs) are recognised by the company
  • Which assessment costs the company calculates
  • Which quantities are requested (pilot series, small series, large series)
  • Whether a DXF file can be created by the user or whether there are additional costs for a service provider to create the file

All these things must be taken into account when estimating the costs.

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