Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    I was wondering if it might be better to have our parts cut and folded from a metal service center rather than do it ourselves.

    We are only a 2-3 man shop. An example job might be making sheetmetal cupboards and shelves, toolboxes etc. There is a lot of folding and notching to be done. Yes, it is cheaper to pay an employee to make them in house because it is just his wage plus the material cost. I spend a lot of time trying to get folds square, then I have to cut and notch corners etc.

    If parts were laser cut you can use slots and tabs to locate how it all goes together. It is obvious that you would be able to make things much quicker if all you had to do was weld up parts with ready to go good fit up.

    The real answer is, does the cost of buying parts in the overall scheme of things work out to be cheaper at the end of the day when the product is made.

    Has anyone done this and gone through the cost comparison exercise? (Which is ultimately what I will need to do.)
    Because if parts can be cut and folded else where and it is not too much more doing it that way, It would allow me to finish jobs faster, thus allowing more work to be done through the year.

    Really interested to see if this is viable.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Visalia, CA

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    i work for a large company that has a decent fab shop. 4- big size bandsaws, 4 iron-workers, 1 water-jet, and 1 cnc plaz table. 2 hydraulic press breaks, 4 or 5 normal breaks, 1 cnc press break, etc.

    we had hundreds of cubes to build out of ss square tube and the cutting was subbed to a laser company. we sub most duct-work out, even though we have shears and notchers and rollers in house for that.

    i work for some pretty sharp folks, it may be worth it to sub out half your job and compare it to the half you did in-house
    bosses stuff:
    trailblazer 325
    maxstar 200

    my stuff:
    sa 200
    fronius transpocket 180
    100 amp Lincoln w/f
    97 f350 DIT


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    Yeah I will have to sit down and evaluate it. We have a cnc air plasma, and yes it's good to make parts, but there is also a lot of time involved in cleaning up those parts too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF bay area, CA

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    such and open ended question that you will have to figure out for yourself IF you can get them produced at a lower cost than you are producing them for in the amount of time you need them produced in then yes.
    Vantage 500's LN-25's, VI-400's, cobramatics, Miller migs, synch 350 LX, Powcon inverters, XMT's, 250 Ton Acurrpress 12' brake, 1/4" 10' Atlantic shear,Koikie plasma table W/ esab plasmas. marvel & hyd-mech saws, pirrana & metal muncher punches.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Marikina City, Philippines

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    You've already answered your own question. Outsourcing those jobs would make you more productive. Freeing you up to tackle more jobs and thus generating more income.
    It was a good suggestion to sub out a small batch of work and compare it with a small batch of your own. Then you would have some hard data on which you could base cost computations.
    Last edited by silvertina; 04-18-2015 at 06:51 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    charlotte, nc

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    It all depends

    More volume =cheaper laser price=better to subout

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    The other piece of it is how much work does your shop have? I am a one man operation, and I have learned that if I am going to tackle a big job, I sub out anything that I reasonably can. There will be plenty of work left after the sub finishes cutting everything. If you are trying to keep your guys busy, sub out less.
    Sculptures in copper and other metals

    Syncrowave 200
    Millermatic 211
    Readywelder spoolgun
    Hypertherm 600 plasma cutter
    Thermal Arc GMS300
    Victor OA torch
    Homemade Blacksmith propane forge

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Chicago, IL

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    I've gone through this several times. My general rule of thumb is figure what it costs you. Don't use just what you pay your employee for labor rates, figure your shop rates for labor. Then add in material costs, etc and compare to what the laser cutter is quoting you. Here's an example:

    I use a custom roller for a machine I make for a customer of mine. I go through about 150 of these rollers a month. Takes me about 15 minutes to make each one, and material cost is like $0.50/each. I like to figure $60/hr for my comparative quoting purposes. I contacted a machine shop, they quoted me $4.15/each shipped. Haven't made one myself since! BUT if I were to ever get so slow that I had no work except these machines, I would definitely make them myself again.

    You could also look into CNC plasma. It's usually cheaper than laser, but not always. I've got a place near me, Laser Center Corp. They're cheaper than plasma with everything I've had them quote. Except for the 1 offs. They have like a $80 minimum.
    John 3:16

    (2) Miller Pheonix 456
    (2) Millermertic 252
    Dynasty 210DX
    Hobart 210MVP
    Doringer D350 SA Cold Saw
    Scotchman 350LT Cold Saw
    Webb 10x50 Mill
    Webb 15x40 Lathe
    Geka Bendicrop Ironworker

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Back to the jungle

    Re: Outsourcing? Is it worth getting parts laser cut and folded?

    Subbing out is great as long as you're busy with something else while it's out. I'm a big barterer. My buddy has a nice CNC machine shop set up for the HEAVY and can spin up something on his lathe before I can even choose a cutting tool for mine. I can whip out plasma cutting and bending, fabbing little detail stuff way faster than he can.Plus I have LOTSA space.6 lowboys ? NOOO problem
    I build a bigasz gate, he whips out hinges or wheels-tracks lock setups for them.I do a roof rack for a pk-up and he cuts left hand side axle threads on some pieces for a pineapple conveyor and spins a couple of brake rotors for me. We're both done by lunch and go pick on the gurlz at the restaurant. Money seldom changes hands.
    I suppose it's a form of networking because I srarely say "NO" when someone asks "can you___ ?" Refer to it as " networking" and try trading services with other shops.

    I need to set up to powder coat.Not brake levers and wheels.I want to be able to do a whole 10 foot flatbed...something on that level of large That's the rainy season project this year.

    "When an old man lays down with no projects in his head, he often never gets up."
    ME. Just now

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