Ability to specify starting coordinates?

Hello fellow 'forgers. Would anyone else find it useful to be able to specify starting XY coordinates for a job? I’m not sure if this is planned for already or not. I think the “drag-and-drop” positioning shown in the demo vids is excellent, but that doesn’t look very reproducible if I want to produce either: a) multiple identically positioned engraves over time, or b) multiple engraves on different items with a relative position reference.

I’m a laser newbie so I’m not sure how this is implemented in other lasers, but basically I’d like to be able to say, “hey glowforge, take this 8x10” jpg (or pdf or svg or whatever, I would imagine some scaling factors would need to be taken into account) and start with the lower left corner at position X,Y on the bed."


many programs like this will let you use last starting position. I know you can basically scan something thats under the camera and remove that item and replace it with something else to cut, which Im assuming you can continuously do using the same exact location. Would this solve your issue?

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Hmmm. Thanks for the suggestion. That could possibly work, though I had envisioned the “take a picture with lid camera then cut something else” function as being more applicable to something like tool cutouts in foam. Or a million other things. But being able to specify exact start XY would better allow you to position your image irrespective of the object dimensions. I guess it’s like using the dynamic click-and-drag resize in SketchUp to size an object vs typing in the exact dimensions you want it to be. One is “close enough” and subject to your different mouse movements each time you do it, the other is exactly the same every time.

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im hoping they will have the ability to do both. I would not be able to use something that gave up precise numerical control for something so analog and error-prone. It would be a pretty big red flag if they didnt allow you to tap in to the innate functionality of a cartesian system like this. I would say its going to be there, but then again we have little to no information on whats going on with the software. I just feel like they would lose most of their client base if they removed that functionality.

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I’m not interested in “close enough” or “pretty close” either. They’d have to be mad to omit the ability to type in numbers.

Surprisingly, there are people who are opposed to such functionality, I hope the Glowforge team is ignoring them.

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pinging @tony who’s the person thinking about this stuff.

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If you provide an exact x,y starting coordinate you would need to precisely position your material every time. To me that means a jig and the same exact piece of material. At which point aren’t you better off with a laser cutter meant for industrial use? Or am I missing something?

I don’t think you’re missing anything. Jigs are easy to make and use (especially if you have a laser cutter!) and allow for consistent repeat performance. I don’t need the Glowforge to be an industrial use laser cutter, with which I might build a Tesla Model S ( check out this cool robot video! https://youtu.be/8_lfxPI5ObM) , but I do expect a professional use level device that I can rely on as a small business owner to precisely control the consistency of production, as well as innovate beyond what’s in the GUI. All too often the “glossy GUI” dumbs it down too much.


If youre cutting a random drawing on a big piece of material you probably dont really care about a tenth of a mm. If you are building something more precise thats exactly the reason you turn to a laser cutter over other machines that have more give and margin of error.

When designing things in cad software you work in measurements. Its one of the main reasons to choose a computer for this type of work… pinpoint accuracy. Say I want something 8mm in depth, I design it for that and it cuts it to that size. Now if I take that and stick it in the glowforge, I want to know that if I need a line engraved exactly down the middle of that 8mm piece, that it will do it. Ill want to punch in a number instead of trying to eyeball it. If it is sitting against the back of the home position, I should be able to say cut a line across this at exactly 4mm and have it cut at exactly 4mm.

Lasers and other CNC machines were designed for accuracy, there is 0 logical reason to have something that was made for a purpose, then to throw that ability out the window for something less accurate.


I understand what you’re saying; I’m saying the work flow seems better suited to an Epilog, Universal, Trotec, etc…

Whether or not you can set the glowforge to 0.000, 0.000 so it is precisely over where you have positioned your jig doesn’t change the accuracy and precision of the glowforge. If you tell it to make two lines 1.333 inches apart they will be 1.333 inches apart. Assuming they hit their spec of .001". The point here seems to be whether or not those two lines will also be exactly .688 inches from the top of your pre-cut piece of material.

I would say there are plenty of reasons to make a precise machine that will make cuts exactly where the camera says it will but doesn’t home the way traditional CNC equipment does. Using a camera to position it quickly over natural materials like wood and leather, with your cut file overlaid on the image, so you capture the grain you want or avoid the imperfection in the hide is a perfectly valid use case. Doing what has been asked, setting it to start at position 0,0, is also a nice feature but to me it is still an extra. I started following this about a year ago and from everything I’ve gathered from all the early interviews Dan wanted to disrupt laser cutting; not make a cheaper laser cutter. To be clear, I get your use case and I would like it as well. I also see a good role for a glowforge without it.

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But the thing is he wanted to make laser cutters BETTER. If he leaves off that easy to implement feature (which hes going to have to code anyways to get optical alignment to work), I will have to buy TWO laser cutters to do the job that this one should be able to do.

When you drag around the SVG outlines, they are aligning to a certain x/y coordinate. The program is keeping track of that. To put in a text box on the side where you can type in a number to change it instead of dragging is one of the most basic and easy things in software development. To leave out functionality like that would almost be malicious.

There is no reason I should have to pay $15000 for a text/numerical entry box on top of the price of the glowforge I already bought. Its like buying a car without the ability roll down the windows. You know they roll down, you can see the buttons on the armrest, but they didnt connect the wire to them so you just stare out the window longingly, sweating, and then someone tells you to buy another 8x more expensive car just because they added the 2 cents worth of plastic wrapped copper to connect the motor to the buttons that are already there.


I like the window analogy!

We know the software is converting every input into a numerical value. That’s how software works. Numbers are being used, there’s no question about that. The only question is: will we be able to use the number keys on our keyboards when we want to set something to “75” or are we going to have to fiddle around with a stupid (but “simple”) slider?

I was trying to come up with a car-based analogy as well… It would be like a car with an accurate speedometer, but no peg at “0” MPH. The driver would have to get in, close one eye, and manually rotate the needle so it points pretty close to “0” every time they wanted to go for a drive.

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Since one of the primary differentiators the Glowforge has is the dual camera system, the way it perhaps should work is to let that optical hardware do its job and figure out where and how big the material is, and let us specify precisely where on that piece we want the design placed, with some presets for horizontal/vertical centering, and a way to specify a rotation angle relative to the orientation of the piece. I am hoping/expecting the macro camera will be capable of better positional accuracy than a mechanical jig can provide, although there is still great value in using a jig to minimize any loss in accuracy from it needing to draw horizontal and vertical lines on angles instead of in line with its axes.


That’s kinda my feeling, adapt my workflow to the tool instead of wanting the tool to adapt to my established methods.
I expect the solution that glow forge will present us with will be eloquent and have all of the capability we could ask for.
If not, there is always a jig.

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I could easily just say “THIS” and be done with it. I hadnt even thought this far in, but I know if it did not have this fuctionality, once I started using it I would quickly add this to the wish list. I cant tell you the sheer excitement this post induced.

If they are reliably and accurately able to allow me to offset my print from the edges of the material and maintain a parallel or right angle to the edge of the material without having to even use a jig, that would be beyond amazing. Auto aligning a cut to an edge with be such a boon, not only for precisions sake, but also in material savings. All of my expectations will be met and surpassed if this will be possible (considering the other promises they made are kept).

I would favorite this post 100 times if I could.

@dan… is this on the docket? Will this be a feature of the glowforge software?


Sure, the Glowforge might be the first software ever that simply does everything you could ever dream of automatically. It’s possible. I just kind of wish we will have the ability to type in some numbers if that isn’t the case. It looks like I’ve been outvoted again though. :confused:


No one really knows how anything other than the most basic camera assisted positioning is intended to work. Guaranteed to be lots of different use cases and applications. Don’t stress, I’m sure there is a current or future capability that will allow you to type in a number for something. :wink:.


I thought I could be sure about that too, but popular opinion seems to be that it’s not needed (or worse: something that should be avoided).

All I know is that I WILL see the software, in use, before my Glowforge is shipped. If numbers aren’t editable, I’ll be getting a refund.

Clearly you haven’t noticed how often the popular opinion is wrong here.

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In his usual understated fashion @rpegg has hit the nail on the head.
Popular opinion on these forums is based upon scraps of information passed around in an overheated game of telephone. By the time it has been repeated and modified 5 times it bears little relationship to the original comment, let alone the actual truth.

I highly doubt that “popular opinion” has much effect on the schedule for rolling out features, or on the list of features that Glowforge will be developing.

I agree that parametric input for cut positioning is a powerful and important feature, but I will still want a Glowforge without it. If this one is a show stopper for you then you will have to wait with the rest of us and see how the software ends up working. Of course the way it works on ship day may be very different than the way it works 3 months later…