Cost to run the Glowforge per hour?

First, I love my Glowforge. It works great and is making me great money each week. As a small business owner I am interested in making sure I am charging enough for my products.
Part of the assessment of cost per hour needs to be a replacement for the Glowforge at some time in the future. If not a complete replacement-upgrade at least major repairs when out of warranty.
So, has someone figured out a good amount to plug into the estimate for cost to run the Glowforge per hour? This doesn’t include electricity etc…just replacement cost at sometime in the future.
Any good estimates?

There are lots of versions of this conversation on here, but so far I don’t think anyone has come up with the “one true number”.

My personal system is I charge 3x what it costs me to make (edging up or down depending on material/complexity). I figure 1x goes to me, 1x goes to replenish stock, and 1x goes for the future.


Thank you for your response.
Well I’m not really worried too much that I’m not selling my items for enough money. I guess I’m more interested in how much of the profit after material costs and labor I need to set aside for machine replacement.
1/3 materials, 1/3 replacement, 1/3 for me doesn’t work very well at all. My material costs and labor are very low in comparison to the amount received.
I read somewhere that the tube lasts 2 years?? How many hours is that? Is it hobby use or business use? Total tube replacement cost?
Yesterday and today the Glowforge will work for me 22 hours.

That was a very vague estimate given way back when “at least 2 years of heavy use”.
Someone who was a laser user commented that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours (not a GF specific quote, but a laser in general quote).


Here’s just a general rule I’ve heard/seen sever times over the years (probably helps I was a business student for 7 years).

A. how much is your time worth? (say $25 hour) include time to photograph. package, set up, development, etc.
B. expenses (things to consider: materials and other resources, any other purchases you make, depreciation/cost of using the machine, land, electricity, etc.) If say the expected life of your machine is 10k hours (say is a pro, after tax was like $6k?) is then $6,000/10,000, you’d charge $0.60 per hour used for a project
C. consider discount price to add back in, I believe you can just multiply by 1.3, that way if you have a sale, you still make some money

To sum up: (your time+expenses)*1.3
Formula: (A+B)*1.3
and after getting that amount, consider perceived value and market rate (think buying soda at a fastfood joint, costs them like $0.10 to provide it to you, they charge $3)

say it takes an hour to make: ($25 + .6 + (spitballing here) $5)*1.3 = $39.78, or probably just charge a solid $40, depending on what it is.

and even if it was a pair of earrings that only took you 5 minutes to make and cost’s you $1 in materials/expenses, if they look nice, you might be able to still charge $25 for them if the perceived value is high.

anyways I’m ranting, not even sure if that helps


Deirdrebeth thank you for that info. Very helpful. I’ll mark that down and add a grain of salt to it for good measure.
Anselm-M thank you for your info.
My real world business activities over 45 years has shown me the cost of my time and business costs.
What I am trying to narrow down is the hourly cost of use of the Glowforge. How many estimated hours is the machine good for.
I fully well know it’s an estimate. AND I know it’s still young and doesn’t have a huge track record. I’m just looking for input on what others have estimated how long their Glowforge will last.
I’ll start with setting aside a dollar an hour used and error on the side of caution. We will see.
I keep a log of hours used. So far so good :joy:


@Anselm-M has a great basis for a start for any operation… (and I should read it all again too!)

Are you able to do other work while the job is running? It may not really fair to charge for for your 1 hour labor if you’re really working on other things during this 1 hour of machine run time–but of course machine time/# pieces produced in that time, plus labor to set up the job & any finishing work are primary elements of your cost per piece.

And with any equipment, depreciation is factor (also part of taxes).

And if you look at other similar items for sale in retail environment (hand crafted, not mass production–that’s a whole 'nother can of worms), consider that a gallery/store pays the maker about 50% of what they charge in the store. So the whole sale price is cost of goods + profit, and if you sell direct, that profit portion can be higher (as well as your cost of goods may go up as you have to pay for your booth or website/on-line market fees/payment processing fees… but it shouldn’t exceed what a buyer would expect to find the same item at a retail space…

honestly that’s the business world, just a bunch of educated estimating. and if you want to make it more complicated, add the cost of upkeep, cleaning and repair, to the total “cost” of your forge

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very true, I think I just went with that already being assumed

The links @deirdrebeth shared will have lots of discussion of this. People have already done a ton of speculation and math around it, so those links are the best place to start rather than reinventing the wheel.

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honestly that’s the business world, just a bunch of educated estimating. and if you want to make it more complicated, add the cost of upkeep, cleaning and repair, to the total “cost” of your forge

Yes, thank you I already have those numbers applied electric cost etc, etc.

I don’t know about cost, but from what I read here and on Facebook about folks who depend on their Glowforge for income, you need to charge what you can to buy a second one as soon as possible.

Not saying anything against Glowforge other than the turn around time for a repair or replacement could easily eat up the cost of a basic and munch through most of a Pro if you are actually moving product.

If I were to get into using my Glowforge regularly for income, I would get a second one immediately. That’s the only way to put reliability under my control, or at least boost the odds on my favor.


I’ve been thinking about that actually, only problem though is I literally have no room for a second one.

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