TLDR: By collecting a laser fee, when these machines need replacing, we are not putting a $30,000-40,000 burden on the General Fund every two years. The risk is spread out among the laser users in proportion to their rate of usage. The fee is a pittance compared to commercial rates and still adequately meets our needs. This leaves more funds available for our sister and brother committees.
Nick and David have raised a persistent misconception.
If they have it, so do others.
Clarifying this is worthy of its own thread.
The original financial model for Laser was based (past tense) on tube life.
Our membership was a fraction of the 2200 we now have.
We had one or two lasers, which limited the number of Laser Basics classes that could be taught without tying up the machines.
Much has changed: more lasers, more training, more members, more authorized users, more usage.
Which all comes down to wear-and-tear and decreased service life.
Therefore, the financial model is now based on machine life.
- The service life of a laser is estimated at 5-7 years under ideal conditions: 1-3 trained, experienced operators in clean conditions with daily maintenance, using known materials.
- Since 02/2018, less than a year ago when we started collecting login data, 622 different members have logged onto the laser PCs at least once, subtracting the admin logins. That is 28% of our current membership.
- Login attempts over 11 months, minus admins:
Big Thunder: 2905.
- Our lasers are located in dusty conditions near exterior roll up doors, woodshop, and metal shop.
- Our volunteers perform regularly scheduled monthly maintenance, not the manufacture recommended daily.
We do not know if improper materials are being lasered.Improper materials are lasered.
- Users do not report issues in a timely manner, so the effects compound.
The wear-and-tear is showing on the machines.
- The machines are breaking down weekly.
- Repairs are consuming more and more volunteer time (a more finite resource).
- Burnt, cracked lenses are being replaced almost weekly.
- The build up in the exhaust fans is accumulating at an increasing rate.
- This weekend, @sixvolts, @JoshW, and @pinewoodnut spent a combined 15 hours restoring Big Thunder: testing the tube, taking power levels, replacing parts, and running test cuts.
- One big enough accident can permanently damage a machine. Witness Blitzen’s severe (and unreported) head crash 3 months after installation…she no longer cuts plumb.
- One use of improper materials can permanently damage a machine. Witness the corrosion in Blitzen from non-laserable rubber.
We have come to accept that the machines themselves are consumables.
- Big Thunder is $15,000. At only two yrs old, she is at the end of her Makerspace service life.
- Donner and Blitzen are $8000 each and one year old. We have one more year with these, fingers crossed.
- That’s $30,000+ to be spent in the next year…not including expansion costs and additional lasers.
- Should Zing need replacing: that’s $8,000.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it was long.