Last Wednesday (May 10th 2017) was a glorious day for me. I didn’t receive an email from @Rita, but I did spend the afternoon with someone who did! @PrintToLaser was kind enough to have me over his house for an afternoon of fun with his Glowforge Basic Pre-Release Unit. I am one lucky guy!
We have all seen posts from angry Glowforge customers who went on a tirade about the company and how they haven’t received the machine they pre-paid for. I have been very upset about the delays too although I haven’t posted anything about it. I’ve now seen a Glowforge in person and used it myself. In short, it is awesome and I am quite impressed! Is it perfect? Of course not. However, all of the faults I found in my few hours with the machine are software based. Luckily for all of us, Glowforge software can be updated remotely, even after the machine is delivered. So, I am left with only positive feelings.
A few things about @PrintToLaser before I provide more feedback on what I learned about the Glowforge itself:
- I owe @PrintToLaser big time for answering my sketchy email in which I essentially invited myself (a stranger) into his home
- @PrintToLaser is very talented in all things made by hand and is on his way to mastering digital tools as well.
- @PrintToLaser’s method of storing his Glowforge under his work table on a sliding rack is pure genius! If I didn’t already have a Glowforge table made, I would likely copy @PrintToLaser.
So, here are the 10x thing I learned about the Glowforge (in no particular order) from my time with one:
Note: some of these items were taught to me by @PrintToLaser based on his experience. Other items are things I read between the lines or drew my own conclusions about.
Wait until the print is completely done and the fan powers off before you open the lid. Otherwise, your (@PrintToLaser’s) shop/house will smell like smoke. I’m glad we weren’t lasering leather!
Both the Basic and the Pro have the front door that opens. For the Pro, it is a pass through slot. For the Basic, it is a much easier way to remove the Glowforge’s bed.
There was once a post about turning a Basic into a Pro by cutting the front and back of the machine. You clearly don’t have to do that to the front. That being said, I do NOT advise cutting out the back of a Basic. Aside from the safety concerns and the fact that the software itself will be different for each model, cutting out the back looks like it would be quite difficult AND there appears to be wires running through that area In short, don’t do it.
The Glowforge’s hardware looks great! They did a great job making the product look premium.
I happen to be a plastic product design and manufacturing specialist. The injection molded plastic case looks well done overall. They do have some visible sink marks where there must be ribs on the interior of the case. For the next iteration, rib thickness should be 40%-60% of nominal wall thickness to avoid sink marks.
the Glowforge UI is missing some basic functionality that I would have expected.
4a) From what I can tell, you cannot load two different vector files for the same project. You would need to combine both files into one vector file with different layers/colors and then pull it into the GF UI.
4b) When use the trace feature, the selection tool is a rectangle. It is not free form. Thus, you end up grabbing a bunch of unnecessary shapes to raster. In our case, it picked up on the shape of the honeycomb bed. You can’t choose to ignore that area. Instead, you have to convert that area into a cut feature and then delete the cut feature from the feature tree. Sounds like a weird workaround to me. I would prefer the trace feature be a freeform tool.
4c) As far as I can tell, you can’t cut two different materials in same “project”. You need to cut one AND THEN start a new project to cut the other.
Garbage in = garbage out. If you load the Glowforge with a crappy picture to raster engrave, the result will look crappy. Next time I visit @PrintToLaser, I will be bringing better files with me!
There are way more laser settings than I expected. I expected power and speed of course. However, I did not expect “lines per inch” and “focus height”. Looks like I will have to do more research into those settings.
Proofgrade materials rock! I’m glad this is going to be a thing.
@PrintToLaser had a separate piece of Proofgrade wood with the Proofgrade sticker on it.
He would place the piece next to the actual work piece.
If you are using a brand new sheet of Proofgrade, the sticker is clearly already there.
However, if you are cutting a piece of scrap Proofgrade, it is way easier to place the sticker by itself next to the scrap instead of a potentially large and fragile piece of Proofgrade with the sticker still on it.
Also, you can use this tactic to trick your machine into thinking your Non-Proofgrade walnut is Proofgrade walnut. You can even use this tactic to trick your machine into thinking your Proofgrade walnut is proof grade ash or whatever else you want.
I think that ALL registered Glowforge customers should have full access to the Proofgrade library so you can pre-plan your materials library and how much it will cost
I also think ALL GLowforge customers should have full access to the GF UI so they can get used to the work flow and get projects set up and ready to go. After all, we will likely be spending 95% of our time PLANNING the cutting vs doing the cutting. A 2 month jump start on the UI would help a lot.
Thanks again @PrintToLaser!