A few years ago I found myself in the position of having to defend our pricing because of the proliferation of low cost fiber laser systems flooding the market. Rather than try to brag about why our selection of components and features make our system what it is, I thought that I would just explain why things cost what they cost. Some time ago, we published an article on our blog talking about what specifically makes up the cost of a fiber laser marking system.
Click here to read it.
Other than newer versions of components in the system, the only significant thing that has changed since that blog post is the cost of fiber laser modules. We use IPG fiber laser modules primarily and IPG is far and away the dominant player in the fiber laser industry, both in terms of sales volume and price setting. When I wrote the blog post about pricing, the average price for a Q switched fiber laser was about $503.00 per watt of output power. IPG has had significant price decreases and the rest of the industry has generally followed along. The current average price for a Q switched fiber laser is about $293.00 per watt of output power. Our system prices also reflect the decreased IPG pricing. A 20, 30 or 50 watt Langolier Fiber Laser Marker is priced considerably less than it was a year or so ago.
There seems to be a race among system manufacturers and integrators to find the magic price point that will make fiber laser markers a commodity with resulting sales of hundreds or thousands of systems per year rather than the dozens of systems per year that most integrators sell. From what I can tell, the only ones that have been successful at that are the Chinese. Some of the reasons for that success are that the Chinese market seems to have low expectations about performance, capabilities and service. I have a bit of experience in that area because I was solicited by one of the major Chinese marker manufacturers to distribute their product. When I asked about why they had approached me, the answer was that they were not being very successful outside of China because of lack of performance, capability and support. I now have some experience with the “top of the line” Chinese systems and I understand why they cost what they cost.
When US fiber laser manufacturers and integrators try to model the Chinese pricing, they seem to either go out of business quickly or compromise on performance, capability and support. My best example of this is a major fiber laser systems manufacturer/integrator that has just emerged from their third bankruptcy and is now doing business under their fourth new name and following exactly the same pattern that created their previous problems. I hear about them mainly from their former customers that are either trying to salvage a system or simply get support for it.
At Jimani, we want to build a system that we are proud of and that we can support. We manage to do both of those things. I could get in to a lot of detail about our equipment versus the low priced systems but I won’t. It would just sound like negative selling and I won’t go there. If price is the only driving factor for a fiber laser system purchase, you will have options. But remember, price is only going to make you happy when you buy the laser system. Quality, performance, reliability, and expert customer support will keep you happy (and make you more money) for the long haul.