The Old Way
Prices in Days, Parts in Weeks
For traditional shops, on-demand orders are a nuisance: quoting is time-consuming and requires skilled labor, setup is slow, new parts take engineering and programming time, and loading the laser, clearing the deck, and dealing with remainders is inefficient. Additionally, creating invoices, charging credit cards, and handling office work for small metal laser-cutting jobs is time-consuming.
Given these factors, getting a quote for custom laser cutting and fabricated parts can take days, if you get a response at all. Fabrication shops decide on a case-by-case basis whether they want to work with you or not. They don't want your prototype or short-run order, they want production jobs, and their pricing, slow response times, and generally poor service reflect that reality.
Most fabrication shops will take small jobs reluctantly, and only with the hope that a prototype job will turn into a volume job later on.