A note for folks thinking about disassembling or modifying your Glowforge

There are so many DIY lasers out there that some think its normal or ok to tear any machine apart…
For everyday chinese lasers that might be ok. The Glowforge is not a run of the mill hobby laser. It has sensors and factory calibrated parts. Its meant to be plug and play… Not to be taken apart and messed with. Imo…why take something like this apart…just buy a cheap china laser if you want to tinker…


Tearing it down may put the optics out of alignment. But they only work marginally at best. So whats the difference. Sorry… just had to be a smart ass on this.


Very true - unless you are an International customer, in which case sending GF back to the US is going to be very expensive.

I too would like an answer to the following about Tube Replacement, which potentially is the only cost effective option for International customers. @dan can you provide an update given the international orders are due to start shipping in 2018?

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I think there is consensus that (most of the time) the laser optics are working just fine and the cameras are also working fine.

It’s the unit-specific de-warp that is not yet implemented and causes alignment issues when trying to position artwork exactly.

Taking the frame apart and reassembling it could through all of the laser alignment out of whack. Even taking the lid off, I would imagine, would nullify the calibration scans they did of the unit at the factory and then the eventual highly accurate de-warp corrections would not work on the reassembled unit–and there would be no way, other than a return to the factory–to get new scans accurate to the new eccentricities of the unit.


Well, if they put that on the hood of your car, it wouldn’t be the law. If you mess up your windshield washer pump and then your turbo fails, they can’t deny warranty coverage of the turbo because you were tinkering with an unrelated system.

I have no idea if there are similar laws for gadgets.


I seem to recall that there may be, provided it truly is an unrelated system. That is one of the reasons that you can replace your phone screen without automatically voiding all other elements of your warranty on your phone. I do believe, thought, that manufacturers are able to, within reason, define some things (example: computer power supplies) as not user-serviceable for various reasons, including safety.

With a laser, safety comes in big…and many of the things are more interconnected. As pointed out, removing the lid could, in theory, throw off every part of the calibration and cause independent problems. Glowforge could certainly claim that the actions taken in a home repair contributed to/cause issues justifying charging to fix, and it could be up to you to demonstrate that they could not possibly be related.

Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. It’s best known to car enthusiasts.

Basically, that each component is separated in the warranty - unless a modification/tinkering has a role in the part failure than the failed part is still under warranty. This being said, without published torque / alignment specs, you’d be unlikely to get everything back together to factory spec.


I just want to point out that any discussion of “the law” is rather presuming that there is one law that applies to all jurisdictions.


No user serviceable parts inside ^^^ there is the Law.

Sticking a label on something doesn’t change the law. That particular sticker doesn’t even say anything about voiding any warranties, not that it matters.

In the Glowforge case, you’re actually right from a practical point of view. If you open the thing up and that throws it out of alignment or calibration, which apparently it probably will, then Glowforge is under no obligation to fix it for you. That applies even if you were not negligent, by the way; I don’t know what you think negligence has to do with anything. I think that’s true pretty much everywhere.

But if you were somehow able to open it up in a way that did not damage it, then, in fact, in many places, Glowforge would be legally forbidden to try to cancel your warranty. Nor would they be able to refuse coverage for unrelated failures.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe the law violates anybody’s “rights”. It doesn’t matter how much you really, really believe things should be different. It doesn’t matter how many stickers somebody puts on something. And in fact it doesn’t matter what’s in the fine print, because most of these laws forbid any attempt to disclaim certain parts of a warranty, even if you get a signature in blood. That’s the way things are.

For some reason, people who like to pontificate about “rights” from positions of ignorance usually assume that the US is the world, so let’s talk about the US. Even though the US has very anemic consumer protections in most areas, it actually does cover the basics of this issue.

The applicable US law is the Magnuson-Moss act of 1975, as amended. The section you’re looking for is 15 USC 2302( c).

This is tricky, though: if you go read 2302( c) without having a clue what you’re doing, you’re not going to see the rule, because it’s cast in terms of conditioning the warranty on the use of any particular product or service. The thing is that that includes repair and maintenance services (it was originally aimed at car repair).

You are free to have stuff repaired or maintained in any way you like, including doing it yourself. So long as you don’t screw it up, doing “unapproved” mantenance does not in itself invalidate any warranty even if the warranty text directly claims that it does.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Try taking the FTC’s word for it. Their interpretation is pretty lucid. It’s at 16 CFR 700.10 (c ) (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/16/700.10). Note that that’s a Federal regulation and is itself legally binding.

Also notice that representing otherwise is a deceptive practice, and deceptive practices are also, independently illegal. That means that it’s actively illegal even to claim to “void” a warranty just because somebody does something reasonably necessary to effect a repair (like taking a device apart), without in fact doing damage. If the FTC weren’t so underfunded, they could have a field day with everybody who tries to do that.

Now, I do in fact believe that taking a Glowforge apart in almost any way will throw it almost irretrievably out of whack, because I’m sure it’s basically screwed-together plastic with no real rigid frame, no reference surfaces, and few and hard-to-use physical adjustments… because rigid frames cost a fortune (a lot more than factory fixtures), and physical adjustment costs more than software calibration. And it’s absolutely true that Glowforge is not on the hook for fixing it if you screw it up. And given what the device costs, that’s even acceptable.

But that doesn’t mean that your sweeping statement that a manufacturer can ignore a warranty because you did just anything to a device isn’t ridiculous.


I often wonder if @dan just sits back like a Michael Jackson meme eating popcorn after he posts these. I sure as hell would think so. Lol


Unfortunately we don’t have any new information to share right now.



Besides the Magnuson-Moss act, another protection consumers have is to do their repairs on Leap Days. All warranty-voiding stickers are automagically neutralized on Leap Day, you just need to replace it with a sticker of equal reflectivity when you’re done. That’s just the way it is.


You, sir, are my hero. Thank you.

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Thanks for posting this to the forum as I was curious about potential upgrades. I did read on your website that Glowforge, as a company, was not exploring the idea of offering upgrades on it’s machines (more than likely for the reasons you stated).

This being said, I would like to run an idea by you. I recently just purchased the Basic model of the Glowforge and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival in the mail. I bought the Basic for several reasons. First, The Basic was in my budget, but beyond that, when comparing the Basic to the other models offered, I, for what my current needs are, could not justify the additional cost for the Plus and Pro models based and what their additional features are. For example, as I am not a business owner, a 20% increase in speed because of a higher powered laser does not interest me, for at the end of the day, it’s not how fast I got to the end product, its the quality that matters (plus, over the course of 1 hour, that’s only 12 minutes saved).

This being said, although my current needs do not require more than a Basic model, this may change as time goes, particularly when it comes to how large an item I wish to create. Of the features listed on the Pro, the only one that caught my eye was the Pass Through slot, but again, I struggled to find how to slits cut into the front and back of the machine was worth $3500 in extra cost.

After reviewing the hardware design to the best of my ability with the pictures available on your website and on other sites, I determined that the main difference between a pro and a basic was that the front door had a slot it in and the body of the machine had a slit cut in the back. As for the software and onboard electronics, I was unable to determine if these were different between the two models, outside of the obvious difference in laser power and cooling.

With all this known, the idea I have is simple: Take the guts of the Glowforge Basic out of the Basic shell and swap in the exterior components of a Pro, or in other words, a Basic with a Pass Through slot (Let’s call it the Semi-Pro lol). For me this is the best of all worlds because I get the features I want without having to pay for features I don’t need. In order to perform the upgrade, I would be willing to ship the unit back to you once the warranty period had passed and would be willing to pay up to the price difference between a Basic and Plus model ($1500) for the upgrade, which would include shipping, parts, labor, and training on class 4 lasers. Furthermore, I would only ask that after the upgrade was finished that the machine be recalibrated, tested, and a quality check list be provided back to me ensuring that the internal components were still in proper working condition at the time the upgrade was completed and in your facility.

What do you think of this Dan? If you are uncomfortable with the idea of posting a reply to this forum, feel free to email me at Mark300Thomas@gmail.com and we can discuss this more in private.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response,


As I discovered that the fan blowing the smoke away had filled with gum enough that it started sucking in the burning wood instead of smoke and eventually stopped working completely. And furthermore that by pouring alcohol hand cleaner freed up the fan (even if not helping the bubbled surface) I am now suspecting the exhaust fan is getting the same gummed up problem with that main exhaust.

Some of the problem is that when wood is turned into a gas the volume is considerable and may even exceed the difference between the intake and exhaust fans causing a positive pressure inside the Glowforge and considerable release of smoke even with a clean exhaust system! But if the exhaust fan is a bit gummed up and slowed down the effect is the same and the fix in either case non existent.

The trick used on the small fan could not be done on the big one as there is nothing to move that much air as I did on the small fan to operate the fan without powering it up.

Thanks for the suggestion! I’m not sure it’s feasible for us to offer, but I’ll pass it along.


I could pump a bunch of hand cleaner into the fan through the exhaust holes and just let it sit for a day, but I would not want to break the warranty by doing so. I did not try it on the head fan until I knew there was a replacement coming.

I still have not changed it out as I am studying what I need to do, and will not start till I know exactly what needs to be done.

In any case the brown gum that is well known to collect on the work, does not only collect on the work, but collects in places that cannot be reached and cannot be brushed away.

For the future overpowering the exhaust fan more to make up for the volume of evaporated wood would help as would extra strength in the filters when they finally arrive.

If can pick up on this, my concern is the effect of that gunk on the efficiency of the heat exchanger. Whether it’s a Pro or a Basic, is this likely to lead to a gradual but inevitable problem in the future ?

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As the heat exchanger is not in the path of the smoke I would expect it to be less of an issue, however the exhaust fan is bathed in it and the head fan was recirculating it every time the cuts were near the front and the smoke curled over the gantry. As that fan slowed it recirculated the now burning smoke from underneath where before it had blown the fires out even as they tried to form.