6 months into owning a Glowforge... My journey so far

#1

I got my :glowforge: back in late September 2018. When I bought it, I was mainly thinking of using it for hobby purposes but I also considered a side hustle (which helped me rationalize spending so much). I work a pretty busy job in corporate IT, but I eat, sleep and breathe technology in and outside the office.

A few months later, in Dec, I made a ton of stuff and started selling at my kids “Santa shop”. I probably made enough money to cover my costs of materials and designs that I purchased, and maybe a little for my time. I had a good time selling there, and realized it would be something I wanted to pursue a bit more.

In anticipation of taking things a bit further, I got an LLC set up though I’m still in the process of getting paperwork and documentation completed. I got my first two Etsy sales this past Sunday (3/24) so I’m pretty thrilled! It did take a while to get a sale, and I feel like my shop still needs work , and definitely more items. I know I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I do have an MBA, so I feel like I am finally able put it to use :slight_smile:

Anyway, I post here because I feel the GF has been more than just a “hobby”, it has become an opportunity for me to challenge and grow myself and learn about starting a business. I know there are quite a few people here that are way beyond where I am. I would love to hear more about what you are doing, and how much you are incorporating the GF into your business.

26 Likes

#2

I’ve had some good luck with selling products I design and make on my 3D printers, the profit from them payed for my Glowforge. I wanted to get a GF to incorporate laser cut parts into my products for 2 reasons. 1. To make production faster for parts that are more suited for laser cutting and 2. to improve the perceived quality of the products. I’m at the early stages of incorporating the laser into my products but I’m sure it will improve them.

5 Likes

#3

Good to hear! I have a few 3d printers but have never used them to make $$'s with. I feel like there is a lot more potential for things to go wrong with 3d printing (bad first layer, part messes up later in the print and you have to redo, etc.). i also agree with you on the quality aspect. I think it’s much easier to get good quality on the Glowforge than on a 3d printer. I have a Prusa i3 mk3 and it is really good, but there are still times when I print something and it just doesn’t come out quite right- may be the model, settings, or filament that is off.

1 Like

#4

Yeah I agree about the potential for failed prints but when it works it works well. You also have the ability to walk away from the printer and come back when its done most the time. I print stuff to sell that at most takes about 4 hours currently. If it fails is not to much time or material wasted. I also have two so I can have them both going to print a decent amount of stock when I want to get ahead. I’ve got a Prusa mk2.5 and a MK3 they are great printers. I use Slic3r PE and have downloaded settings from a facebook group I’m in that’s really good. If you want I can try and link you to it so you can download it and give it ago if you have currently having problems.

I just made a controller stand yesterday that was part 3D printed Part laser cut. Very satisfying!

2 Likes

#5

Thanks! I actually am pretty happy with the quality on my Prusa mk3 but if you don’t mind sharing your profile I would definitely check it out. I am mostly more concerned with the inconsistent results more than anything. I do a lot of tinkering and tweaking on 3D printers and enjoy them as a hobby (in fact going to MRRF this weekend). I have never found a good item to sell though I have quite a few things I’ve put on thingiverse mostly for my drone hobby and 3d printers. What kind of stuff are you selling?

0 Likes

#6

I will try to remember to send the profile when I get home. Do you mind linking me to your thingivers page Id like to have a look at the stuff, I’ve been tempted to print myself a FPV drone for a while. I want to go to MRRF it seems really cool. I’ve been selling board game related stuff for a while like score tackers but I don’t really sell them anymore. Its now mainly gaming accessories like holders for controllers and stuff.

0 Likes

#7

Cool! I am actually using Simplify3d, not Slic3r so it may not really help me much, so no big deal if you can’t send it.

Here are my Thingiverse designs.

If you have any questions about FPV or building a drone, let me know. I’m happy to help :slight_smile: They are a lot of fun. I am flying a 2.5" custom built mini-hexacopter right now, which is a blast.

0 Likes

#8

I considered a 3D printer first but the print times were always an issue, that the toy-sized piece of plastic could take many hours was an issue unless I could make a mold and make lots of mechanical stuff. I had done model making before there were 3d printers and the results are awesome but the follow up needed for molds and production was not in the cards.

When seeing how the Glowforge plans were to be more noob friendly at the tech end and could actually make stuff out of wood in a fraction of the time that would leave someone with even a jigsaw in the dust so to speak I jumped on it.

I had an easy-ish time of it 50 years ago that I merely had to make something and it was like printing my own money, selling was not at all difficult, but it had to be something not too easily available or everyone would do it. For a while you could pour wax in a pile of sand add a wick and sell it for $50 but as anyone could do that such a market did not last long even then.

I had not realized just how much work would still be needed after the Glowforge was finished or to how far appreciation for such work had fallen, or perhaps more not recovered having seen Pottery Barn mass production sell for 5x the price of really stunning custom porcelain. I had somehow thought that the Maker Movement and places like Etsy had changed things more than they have.

I still have not found the market I am looking for but realized that even for home use to fix things poorly designed and to provide structural bits that it could be worth it, and combined with a 14" cubed build space and “infinite color” with shading and “half price” I went for the Gomega but have discovered just how much the Glowforge does for you, so have been moving very slowly there. Still, I see the color as what will get past the plastic toy image as none of them have color shading, but I am at the very beginning of a long journey.

Being disabled getting out to shows has been something I was hoping not to need to do but it is not looking good for that thought. I certainly would like more ideas of where to go from here also.

1 Like

#9

I hear ya. For traditional FDM 3d printing, I just feel like it is so inferior to what I get on the Glowforge in terms of quality, speed, and time. Granted, it is a ton cheaper (now days you can get a decent printer for under $300!).

I am sure there is a market for it and people are making money off them. My main issue is all the tweaking it takes to get things to print perfectly. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I don’t feel right selling things with any kind of cosmetic defect. I have spent more time trying to perfect and calibrate my printer, probably 90% of people don’t bother with. I have it printing pretty well, but I still get problems. Even on the Prusa mk3, the bed is not completely flat, and the sensor can only compensate so much. (Just the fact that it’s a PCB heating causes it to warp…)

The tech is just not something I want to rely on for commercial stuff. However, I forgot that I did recently sell a few 3d printed puzzles at my recent craft show, so I have technically done some selling with 3d printed parts. But they were very small parts and it was more of a novelty.

1 Like

#10

I don:t work careless or sloppy but I am always pushing the envelope to the point that if perfect they would not be pushing the envelope enough, but at the edge flawless is not possible. Even so putting days or work and a 30% making it to having anything I have stepped back a bit on the most extreme cases.

1 Like