Tricks For Mass-Producing Laser-Etched Art

Art is a funny thing. Sometimes, it’s best done in a one-off fashion and sold for a hugely inflated price. Othertimes, it’s more accessible, and it becomes desirable to sell it in great quantity. [Wesley Treat] has been doing just that, and he’s shared some of his tricks of the trade on YouTube.

The video concerns some retro-futuristic raygun artwork panels that [Wesley] made in a recent video. The panels proved mighty popular, which meant he had a new problem to contend with: how to make them in quantity. His initial process largely involved making them in a one-off fashion, and that simply wouldn’t scale.

[Wesley] starts right at the beginning, demonstrating first how he produces stacks of blanks for his art panels. For production scale, he used pre-painted matte aluminium panels to speed the process. It’s followed by a sanding step, before the panels go into a laser etching jig to get imprinted with [Wesley’s] maker’s mark. Panels are then drilled via CNC, etched with their front artwork, and then fitted with a front acrylic panel, similarly cut out on the laser cutter. Then it’s just a matter of packing and shipping, a logistical hurdle that many small businesses have had to overcome.

[Wesley] does a great job of examining what it takes to scale from building one of something to many. It’s a topic we’ve looked at a few times in the past. Video after the break.

26 thoughts on “Tricks For Mass-Producing Laser-Etched Art

      1. Hugely inflated from what it would cost to have anyone else make an equivalent piece. You pay for the name and status, which is a questionable thing to pay for – unless you expect to toss the “hot potato” to someone dumber than yourself.

        1. I doubt you can get a one-off copy of that made for less than he charges. Fixed costs, breakeven etc.

          Just frame a page from an old ‘Star Fleet Technical Manual’ and watch the panties hit the floor! Liable to be very very large ‘panties’, perhaps with a fly, certainly skid marks.

          Last I looked STTMs were under $10…100 pages estimate, about 30% good ones (same as original TV show, never to be matched), $30 for a nice frame, charge $100 each. Could turn a nice profit. Could end up stuck with drecky junk.

          1. No doubt, but the question was about the general point of art tending to be overpriced – usually because the customer either doesn’t know that they could have something equivalent elsewhere, or they want the status and name association to a certain artist.

    1. There is a certain group of twits who don’t believe something is worth what you can get someone to pay for it.

      They think the value comes from the labor put into it. Because a stupid, long winded, drunken German wrote that. It’s their religion.

      1. The meaning when using the word “worth” of something and the price of something are generally two different things. There’s various things it’s impossible to buy which are not worthless, so I’ll say the price instead of the worth, and if it’s possible to be inflated when it successfully sells.

        It’s usually reasonable to say that when buyers and sellers in a highly fluid market converge on a certain price for a thing, wherever they converge is the price of that thing. On the other hand, there’s plenty of things where you can’t connect many buyers to sellers in order to set such a price. If you can, there’s still complications such as incentives, riders, combined transactions, non-monetary effects, costs of actually executing a trade of cash-for-item, etc, which mean there’s not necessarily an obvious objective price, because what’s on the receipt doesn’t take all that into account.

        Perhaps more importantly, for luxury goods and collectibles, is that it’s been studied that the prices of things work in *very different ways* from normal. The largest portion of the price has nothing to do with the good and everything to do with what the buyer(s) and seller(s) think others will think either now or in the future. Take watches for example, since it’s probably easier to choose to think of them as identical machines assembled to meet specifications. Their prices are quite disconnected from any inherent quality as-such. As an example of a difficult question of price: Exclusive models will be created which you have to know someone in order to manage to acquire. Prices can appreciate over time for some models, and others can sink like a stone as they fall out of favor. You might find that you can develop a relationship to use to acquire the watches you want by buying a number of other watches you don’t even want, which you can give as expensive gifts or hold as physical stock in a collection, while circulating them like trading cards. The actual price of the watch you really wanted – is it the final price you paid? Is it the price you could sell it at auction for, immediately after receiving it? If the maker bans you from further purchases after discovering you sold it, is that opportunity cost part of the price? Is it the sum of the prices of the watches you bought to get there, plus its own price, plus a bit for labor? It’s a bit of a mess, if you think of it that way.

        Now with art, more specifically, there’s some of that sort of thing and also the sort of funny smelling logic whereby something that you paid very little for can be converted into a high-value donation, or something can be bought which ceases to exist at the moment it is purchased.

        1. There is the polite assumption that everything we buy is because it has some value, but in truth some things we buy are merely to trick other people into paying more. Gambling and speculation, or just abusing irrational people by selling them imaginary value.

          Fine art is a great example of such games, because eventually the price will rise so high that nobody else will or can pay it, the last owner takes a loss in selling it, or and the piece in question gets destroyed by time or accident.

      2. The drunken German had a point:the real “worth” of anything is the cost to have it – what material and human resources you need for it to exist. If someone asks for more, they’re asking too much because that extra is unwarranted in terms of what it could be made for. Minimum socially necessary labor etc.

        The reason you would pay more is because you can’t get it otherwise – supply and demand. Nobody else is making that thing, not enough supply, so you have to pay or go without.

        Justifying price by “someone willing to pay” goes off into la-la-land because under that theory prices depend only on what the prices are – what people believe it should cost. It effectively allows me to sell you one dollar for two dollars, or one potato for two potatoes, once you cycle it through the economy, and you should be happy as long as you believe this was a fair trade.

        1. Ultimately, it’s about whether I have to work more than you have to, in order for you to make me something. The difference means I’m giving you some of my labor for free – and why should I?

          Of course I can pull the same trick on you to get even, but then we’re going to play a game of who’s the bigger bullshitter: which one of us can be made to accept our work is worth less. Who’s willing to take the loss?

          1. And of course, the usual counter-argument is that I can derive more value out of the thing you made me, so it’s only right that I pay you a share of that value.

            But, if you make me a hammer, and I build a house using the hammer, that house was my work, not yours. What claim do you have in it? You already got paid for the hammer, why should you get a stake in the house as well?

        2. No. Just no.

          The thing is worth what you can get for it. Full stop. That’s it’s price and worth. If it’s ‘worth’ more than that to you, don’t sell it. There is always part of the supply curve that doesn’t sell. Price/worth will be different tomorrow.
          Your criticism of that is incoherent. Sell one potato for two? What dark smelly place does that come from? Two willing traders…Where do I find such chumps? Care to try again?

          Price will always involve time, place and traders. Nothing wrong with that.

          The alternative is an impossible accounting problem that falls into an impossible political problem. See also: 20th century.

          1. You’re playing definitional games. You define value and worth as equal to the price achieved at market, and deride anyone who doesn’t agree with your definitions.

            There are many alternatives, which include recognizing that things have costs, both monetary and non-monetary, and selling too cheaply is not sustainable, and that widespread theft and violence has gone into many of these items that are being sold, making the willing trader idea often quite farsical.

          2. >The thing is worth what you can get for it. Full stop.

            When I was a kid, I traded with my little sister to get a large value coin for two smaller value coins – like two dimes for a dollar – on the selling point that two coins is more than one coin.

            Does that make two dimes worth a dollar? If so, I should have kept the dimes. See the problem of your definition?

          3. >The alternative is an impossible accounting problem

            It doesn’t really have anything to do with accounting. Things have real costs – material and social – independent of how you count them. The real concrete value of a thing is exactly how much you need to make it exist.

            Even the point of “capitalism”, that is free competitive trade, is to align prices with this real cost. In the ideal condition, supply and demand should lower prices to the point that a person doing something gets exactly what they need to continue doing that thing. Prices above that level are due to imperfections of the real market vs. the ideal.

          4. Your own statements support the idea that things are *not* simply worth exactly as much as you can get for them in a given place at a given time. If they were, that’s an shared and objective value which multiple rational traders could arrive at. And if two such traders meet, they of course both know and exactly agree what that objective worth was. Having agreed, there would be no non-trivial rational way to choose whether you want to be the person who owns a thing or the person who owns its price worth of cash because the positions are exactly equal. (Trivial ways include never trading, always trading, trading at random, etc to avoid the donkey problem). There could be no mutually beneficial trades, either, if trading and not trading are options which have equal worth – because a mutually beneficial trade is one in which trading results in both parties having receiving more worth than they started with. As such, for your way to be true, there can be no rational and mutually beneficial trades.

            But we believe that many trades are quite rational and benefit both sides. We know that people all need a certain set of things, but they don’t have to produce all those things by themself rather than trading for them. So it seems more likely that worth is truly different than the present price of a given thing.

      3. “There is a certain group of twits who don’t believe something is worth what you can get someone to pay for it. ” That is only because they can’t afford to buy ‘it’ at the asking price in the first place :) . If it is ‘worth it’ to you, at the asking price, go for it :) . Your happy, seller happy. Deal done. Everyone has their own idea of what something is ‘worth’. If it never sells, then it is ‘over priced’ and the seller must lower the price to start moving product. Or if doesn’t sell at all, the product is discontinued. Simple. Doesn’t matter if a product is ‘worth’ (labor and material) $1 and sold for $10,000. All you have to do is go to an internet bidding site to see that. I shake my head sometimes at what some stuff finally is sold for. Both hey, both seller and buyer walk away happy … and that’s all that matters.

        1. There is the question of taking advantage of fools. Just because someone believes the price is right doesn’t necessarily mean they should be paying that price.

          Because if we operate the society that way, all manner of ill effects will follow.

          1. Better than the alternative. I can name the notable flaws of Capitalism; can you name the notable flaw of command economies? Such as Marxist ones. Includes any where prices and production are fixed by a central authority.

            ‘A fool and their money were lucky to get together in the first place.’ That’s just a law of nature.

            If someone thinks a mechanical watch is work $500k, who am I to stop a free trade between willing participants. Sure, he’s a fool. A soon to be slightly less rich fool. Best kind. It’s just jewelry.

          2. It’s not a question of command economies, but a question of recognizing that price isn’t worth and money isn’t wealth, etc.

            That’s called being an informed and rational consumer – a prerequisite of well functioning free markets.

          3. >who am I to stop a free trade between willing participants

            So you don’t find yourself even a little bit responsible for the situation by arguing for a value theory that makes fools out of people?

            Nobody is born wise.

  1. We did this back in the manufacturing class with a high power laser on mirror tiles. Than put black coat of spraypaint on back and it locks like a tin type photo. BUT these is not etching, etching is when you etch something in a acid and you get feelable high differences. He laser simply only the spraypaint away. This is decoration for hipsters, ohh lock at me and accept me…..

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.