Run time profit calculation?

Hello! I’m curious if anyone has a calculation they like to use when considering run time into their profit.

Something like:

item + shipping = revenue
revenue - material cost - run time = profit

The measurement I need to figure out is the run time.

For example:
A set of 4 coasters with a last name on them is only ~20 min run time. Simple design, easy peasy.

A photo image engraved onto a piece of wood exceeds an hour.

When I’m considering the longer run time, it obviously takes up time that I could be running other orders. I’m having a hard time calculating this into my costs to address my profit margins.

Looking for some insight as to how other makers consider these projects. Thanks!


There have been a lot of threads on this, maybe you missed them? I think the thing to search for is “pricing”, let’s see.

Ah yeah here we go, a bunch of guides and ideas:

And so on, there are a lot more threads like this, sure to be good info in there.


Lots of info in other threads, but my calculations over the past 3 years are that my Basic costs less than $2.00 per hour to operate, based on an estimated 10,000 hour lifetime, tube changes every 2,000 hours, and electrical rates in my market. Your mileage will vary.:wink:


I used a lot of the links @evansd2 listed to come up with my cost. A lot of them run a pro, so their initial machine cost is higher than mine, since I run a basic.

To start, I started with (material cost x2)+(print time x .50)+human labor, packing materials, etc.

Pretty much this was how I started, I decided that to replace my glowforge, I would need $3,000. I wanted to recoup the cost in 100 hours of print time. So I got 30/hr for run time, which is 50 cents a minute. I thought since I was pretty beginner, 30/hr for human time, this includes me having to put the files in order, loading in new materials (I also sand and mask my stuff too), packing it up, all this usually takes less than an hour.

Now, this formula works with my most reoccuring customer, especially since she supplies her own files and materials, so I really just charge her for cut time and my time packaging. But for future purposes, I’m going to have to increase the rate, because I also need to include in there machine maintenance and cleaning costs. On top of that, I’m finding that I’m not a beginner, and I’m starting to value my time a lot more. :rofl: I think a dollar a minute is fair for the complexity of the projects I do. So my next formula will be reflective of that.

FYI, I keep a comprehensive log of all my cut times. I don’t round up, I charge exactly what it takes. I also don’t charge for full sheets of materials unless a full sheet was used. I go by 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, full. This is based on my own guestimations, I don’t measure it, but I’m pretty confident when it comes to how much usable sheet I have afterwards.

So far, every project I’ve done, using my formula I created based off the other posts, every price seems pretty fair. My increase in cut time charges will just going to be for people who want things cut. Especially since I will end up having to buy another laser if volume of cuts increases. I haven’t decided if my personal projects will get an increase, mostly because I find it much easier to work with myself than correcting the work of others to get it laser ready.


Thank you so much for this! This is what I was looking for. I also hadn’t even considered electrical rates until recently… when I noticed how much higher my utilities bill was after moving to a new place :sweat_smile:

This is INCREDIBLY helpful! The $.50-1 range was what I was looking for. I was assuming around .30/min, and I also calculate my material costs by the square inch.

I also think that’s a great idea to charge the higher end on custom or more complex orders (also considering the amount of trial and error I find myself in when I need to make something completely custom).

Thanks a ton!


I was complaining about the electric bill to my husband. He told me it was the laser, I told him there is no way, we had the laser for almost two years and the rates have never gone up. It was his computer he built, the thing is superpowered and eats electricity like there is no tomorrow. Surprised it hasn’t caused any local blackouts, raised the rates more than the air conditioner. :rofl:


One of these is always handy to keep around…


I clicked the link to see if that was the same one I have and Amazon told me I bought it 13 years ago :slightly_smiling_face: but it’s still available (there is a newer model though).

I’ve been chasing electric usage for longer than I thought. My daughter texted after she got her first bill in her new apartment in NC about the unexpected high cost (turned out to be a connection charge). But she’s using half the electricity per day than we are (although she’s in an apartment she does have to run a/c more and she has electric hot water vs our oil-fired boiler). For 1/2 the electric she pays 1/8 what we do for electricity!

And 40% of her electric bill is a charge for having her own meter in the apartment complex. If she were in a single family house it’d be that much less.

And the state government wonders why so many of us are moving or looking to move :thinking:


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