10,000 hours tube life, but what about everything else?

So fresh off a repaired tube, and Glowforge support being 100% absent on what caused or was really needing replaced as it was more money than the quoted tube cost, is there a certain lifespan of other components on the GF that can go bad quickly, or perhaps a limit on hours of runtime within a 24 hour period maybe? If anyone has info on this, please let me know.

Really wish Support to Repair Techs and vice versa wasn’t such a black hole of no information back and forth. Can’t believe a company can charge X amount without having any record of what needed repair in the first place.


There are two systems that are going to have life limits per my understanding of the system; the laser tube and the cooling system. The laser will burn out eventually as you have found. The cooling system will either see a seal failure or a pump failure, the latter being more likely. Everything else has a chance of failure but should not fail in the life of the machine. Things like stepper motors will eventually fail but their failure limits are so high we will probably not see one unless a cable comes unplugged or something along those lines. Drivers and other ICs will also eventually fail, usually due to heat, but again, these are going to be really small numbers of failures with high hours unless there is an internal defect.

The fans are the other failure points, but they are relatively easy to replace and can be done by the user.

I agree with you that you should have been given a full accounting of the repair. I would never return a 3D printer I had repaired without providing a full accounting of what was done and what the user had paid for. I am sure they have a record, they have just chosen not to share that with you.

I suspect that you paid for the laser tube, possibly some other small parts, and then the rest would have been labor to remove and replace the tube, test the tube, and recalibrate the machine to their factory specifications. I would guess the labor for this type of operation would be about 5-6 hours and you were probably charged about 60-80 dollars per hour, though the hourly rate is a total WAG.


You didn’t say what they charged you for the repair, but if it was under $1000 with shipping you got one hell of a deal.

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I’m not sure I follow this? He doesn’t know what was fixed (from the post) so we don’t know if it was a hell of a deal or not?

I mean, if the tube cost is supposed to be $500 with shipping - but, he was charged more without knowing what for. If they are going to charge incidentals like a coolant refill, etc. (and who knows if that is the case - not saying it is!) we should know that up front, or at least have it be itemized on the repair bill.


:smile: So glad you asked!
My own research follows into why I think under $1000 is a pretty freaking great deal. :wink:

A quick Google search yielded this information regarding laser tube replacement in general:

Cost for a typical CO2 laser tube in the 40W to 45W range is from $300 to $400. Since these are proprietary, they probably run more expensive than the tubes shown here. That’s just the part cost. I’d guess these run in the $350 and up range.

Here is an Instructable on how to change a CO2 laser tube. And here is a video showing how to change out a laser tube on a randomly selected Chinese CO2 laser. There are additional Youtube videos showing the process of changing out a laser tube if you do a search, but those are enough to get the general idea.

After the new tube is inserted, the power supply has to be set to extend the tube life. This part is dangerous. (And I suspect Glowforge prefers to not fry their customers.) But if you are interested in seeing what’s involved, I found an Instructable for it here.

After the power levels are adjusted, the laser beam path has to be set by calibrating the mirrors and lenses to get a good beam path. This can take hours if done manually, I’m sure the Glowforge team has developed a jig of some sort to set and test it. But if we were to try it ourselves, there’s a writeup in Github about how to go about it. And there are videos here and here on other lasers.

After the tube is replaced, and calibrated, it needs to be tested, and the machine checked for any other problems. Then cleaned up and packaged back up for shipping.

Shipping costs round trip for something that large will run $200 easily. So we’d likely start out at about $550 total for shipping and parts, before even getting into the actual labor.

It wouldn’t be unrealistic for them to charge a thousand bucks to repair one of these things, based on this (and other earlier) research. I decided long ago that it was worth it unless they start charging over $1500. Then I’ll need to decide whether to become an electrician so I can install and calibrate it myself. :wink:

Fortunately I can’t give specifics on it since I haven’t had to replace mine yet. But this appears to be a fairly complex process, the parts don’t just snap in and go, there’s a lot of skill involved in it. Skills that I certainly don’t have.

That $500 quote was an estimate from Dan because a lot of anxious people were pressing for it, before they had even had to do a single replacement. Absolutely no one remembers that it was an estimate when the time actually comes to pony up for a replacement. I’m not going to hold them to that fixed number. I think it’s admirable that they’re trying to hit it, but from a business standpoint, I hope they’re keeping an eye on their actual costs.


I get where you’re coming from as far as value.

The $499 price is committed to in the FAQ - not an estimate.

If it cost more, as a customer paying for repairs, we should know what is being paid for - whether it’s disposal fees, coolant refills, something they found while they were in there - or whatever.


I 100% agree that you should have a break-down of repair costs, at the very least parts vs. labor. And, ideally, on a rough idea how long to expect a tube to last.

As for the rest, this is not the norm when you buy something. If you buy a coffee pot, there is no document that suggests the life of the carafe, even though they have decades more experience than GF. And even if you had that information, it would not be helpful because it always varies significantly based on use.

I think your main point is valid, but I think you’re diluting your complaint with requests for things that are neither available nor practically useful. I hope you’re able to get the answers you need, though.


Except you’d never know because you don’t know what you paid for, which is I think where the OP holds frustration. [I mean, given that my machine cost $2500, I don’t think I’d ever consider a $1000 repair bill a “deal,” but that’s not really the point. They could send back an entirely new machine and how would you know?]


Yeah, not cool at all. It may be legal, but at minimum it’s a shady business practice. Not providing an invoice showing the repairs is a system that allows for abuse and fraud. (To b clear, I DO NOT think that’s what’s happening as Dan and company have proven to be very ethical, but the system itself is flawed.) The consumer has a right to know what they are paying for.


They need to update that. Pronto. They’ve probably forgotten all about it in light of the other things they’ve got going on.

By sharing the research that I did earlier, I hoped to point out to other customers who are new to lasers that replacement of the tube is a costly and time consuming process. For all lasers. Something that they might not have considered before purchasing. But it seems to be a normal cost of doing business with a laser.

Can’t assist with getting Glowforge to give more information when they do a repair. They don’t tell me anything either. I had to look it up. :rofl:

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Why? Is that not the price?


Don’t know. I’d be shocked if it was. I think it costs more than that to fix one of these things.

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Dan reaffirmed that price a month or so ago in a response to someone asking for the info. They’ve not “forgotten”.

Your math was interesting but a bit flawed - it’s based on retail rates. Someone making 10,000+ of anything gets a quantity deal on all the parts that go into it. If standard retail pricing algorithms apply, their tube probably costs them in the 100-150 range. (& I’d be closer to the lower end) Labor is probably in the $20 range as it’s not a highly complex skill - just needs training so they can have minimum wage+ folks doing the work. The alignment of the GF is easier than the standard laser machine due to the simplified light path and the mounting of the tube on the gantry. Total time to replace and realign/run calibration is probably under 90 minutes (I’d suggest an hour might do it but am being conservative). Overall it’s not likely to be costing anything near $1000. Now it might be worth that to an individual since they would have to get parts at retail but then they’re paying themselves…

Regardless, an advertised $499 tube replacement shouldn’t come back at anything other than $499 unless there’s an invoice for the other services and parts required.


My repair was $578.62 + $200 shopping for a total of $778.62, the only thing I can tell is that the lip of the bed lid had started to lose it’s adhesive and was wobbly, I had taped it down and it seems that part was replaced without addressing that or even asking if I wanted it replaced, I was just planning to glue it back, especially if they were gonna charge an additional $278 for that if that’s what they did, seems similar to the $100 windshield wiper replacement job auto shops try to stick ya with when you’re completely capable of handing this yourself, I’m afraid that may have been what the extra charge was for, would be really nice to see this in a breakdown instead of blindly signing off on getting superfluous repairs I wasn’t made privy of.


Your math is also a bit flawed. :slight_smile: Or not the whole picture, at least.

But, in the end, it doesn’t really matter because it’s a $499 service. It doesn’t matter to me what the tube costs them, or what they retail it for, or what they charge as a labor rate, or what they pay the employee doing it.

In the end, @metaldrummer13 paid $278 extra and he doesn’t know for what. This isn’t right. It also prevents him from knowing the history of his machine.

I don’t have the warranty pulled up at the moment / but there should be a warranty for repairs also (not sure if it just states spare parts, replacement parts, etc.) - but if he has an issue in 2 months: let’s say it was the lid that was the extra repair dollars, and the lid started coming unglued again in 2 months, if the warranty guarantees repairs for 3 months, he would be covered, but he doesn’t actually know what was repaired - so he’s left in a complete position of ignorance because he wasn’t provided the original repair details.


Wasn’t the $499 tube replacement supposed to include shipping? It seems to be $478 extra.

Your point about not knowing what else was done and whether it might break again and ought to be warrantied is a good one (I don’t recall reading anything where they warranty repairs after the initial machine warranty period). It’s one reason auto repair processes are so highly regulated.


He paid $778 total. I assume the $200 shipping was a line item: $299 tube replacement, $200 shipping, and then the extra $279 dollars to fix something.

I don’t know for sure how to interpret the warranty:

Glowforge warrants Proofgrade materials and spare parts against defects in materials and workmanship for a period of 3 months when used as instructed in conjunction with a Glowforge product.

Perhaps, since “spare parts” is a section of the Shop - and its lumped in with mention of Proofgrade, it only applies to what is sold in the shop as spare parts (lens, mirror, etc.)

You’re right. Reading comprehension just isn’t my thing today. I should get back to deck building :slight_smile: Although I won’t be able to use any new tools or I’ll likely cut some body part off by misreading the instructions :smiley:


While we have but one data point here, if it is glowforge policy to not properly invoice I have to jump on and say that this has to change. They can charge what they will but we deserve to know what we paid for.


He was originally quoted $300 for the tube repair (or maybe $299), plus shipping. [His original post is here.]

The situation isn’t that he sent it back without knowing the cost. He was quoted a cost and given a bill for more after the fact with no explanation of what the extra costs were. I can’t imagine any consumer being OK with this. Now, obviously we are only getting one side of the story, but it’s at the very least past the part where we debate what it should cost.