Air Assist Alert.. yikes!

For the first time ever, I got the air assist alert on my :glowforge:. I was a bit confused, because it told me that I just needed to clean the contacts on my Glowforge printer head as here:

I went ahead and did that, but I didn’t think that was really the issue. Plus, I am pretty good about keeping my unit clean (or so I thought… keep reading on). I did another search on the forum and found this article:

Honestly, I’d never even realized there was an air assist fan until I saw this. I’ve probably cut at least 100 hours on my GF if not more and the Air Assist fan has never been cleaned… (My bad… probably should have studied the manual better). I looked at the above directions, but instead of taking the entire assembly apart I just took a can of spray air and sprayed the fan from the back. I couldn’t believe all the gunk that came out! Holy smokes. I’m going to do it the proper way soon, but I apparently got it cleaned enough to keep going and finish up my printing for this weekend.


Same here. I’ll try the canned air this weekend.

The issue I was seeing is that the error popped up in the same spots, on the same prints, even after removing pieces of the artwork. Flame up seemed to be the most likely cause from what I could see.



Did you have any rare earth (neodymium) magnets on the material holding it flat?

If the head traverses sufficiently strong magnets, it will stall the fan. Several of us started seeing it a month or two ago when they pushed an update that now pays attention to some of the sensors (like the air assist fan) they hadn’t been monitoring before.


Yep, I did have some round neodynium magnets that was holding down the plywood, and there were some on the back area. I have been using them for the last few weeks though without a problem, but I was reading a lot in the forums and on the facebook group about people running into the issue. I’m wondering if that could have also been causing it also. However, I definitely did have a pretty messed up fan. After I cleaned it, I didn’t change anything with the magnets and it worked again, though I was just doing cutting and not the engraving step.

Luckily, it failed on the very last thing I was engraving. I had bout 12 small keychain designs I was engraving. It never got to the cutting step, but since I left everything in place and was careful not to move anything when I cleaned it, I was able to cut my designs and only lost the one engrave where the assist issue kicked in.


Tell me about it…


But you did in fact change something. The engrave would be doing a back & forth at slower speeds (potentially) than the cut.

Thin round ones (1/16") don’t seem to bother it but thicker ones (1/8") where the head spends a lot of time in proximity does seem to affect the fan.

OTOH, it could also have been a dirty fan. Or a combination - a gunked up fan being easier to affect because its operation is already compromised.


i will throw out my magnet suggestion again here. find some old hard drives (you can even buy a box cheap on ebay) and salvage magnets from them. the magnets are strong, and they have a metal plate backing them. the edge of the metal plate can be used to hold down the edge of material, covering very little material. and the plate on the back dissipates the magnetism to the point where you can set the metal plate side down on the crumb tray and it won’t stick at all.

best. GF. magnets. hands down.


I found the same thing when I had a job stall just a little ways in on nearly my first job with Puffette, I had purchased shielded and un-shielded magnets from Home Depot and when I thought about it realized I had been seeing it all along that the poorer cutting was near where I had been using the un-shielded magnets. I had worked on the engineering of an 18 wheeler trailer for a fixed Neo- magnet MRI that could rip an iron screwdriver out of your hand at 25 feet away if un-shielded but was not detectable outside the shielding. The slightest disturbance either EM or Magnetic would cause the machine not to work but they were able to get good MRIs out of it driving in traffic, It was easy to imagine passing cars leaping off the road and sticking to the sides of the ven such was the power of that magnet.

I had some steel flashing that I had purchased thinking was aluminum, and I made covers for the magnets. it is not perfect shielding but it does reduce the field enough to no longer stop the fan when it passed by.


I have the 1/8" magnets so they are definitely the thicker ones. After reading your reply and some others here, I think I need to get some shielding on these. Especially that the fan assist is sensitive to it. Thanks for the feedback!

Great idea! I happen to have several old hard drives sitting around, so I think I am going to take you up on your suggestion. I am not sure if there are other good options to shield my round magnets (I think I found them linked here originally).

Ahh another great idea- steel flashing. I have never worked with steel flashing, but I may also give that a shot. I think I would prefer to use the magnets I already have. I’ll have to see where I can get some flashing.

I got a roll of it from Home Depot thinking it was aluminium mine isn’t galvanized. It might even be some sort of stainless but a magnet sticks strongly, bring a magnet to check. One roll is shiny and the others actually are aluminium but that was what I was looking for at that time. I am not sure how bad zinc fumes would be if hit by a laser but you could take off the zinc and replace with paint if needed. What i have might be nickel plated or even nickel stainless that is magnetic, Actual steel I think would be a better shield the thicker the better (the MRI was 3/8 I think and Aluminium outside that).

Cutting up a large steel can might be easier,

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Thanks! The price is definitely right on a roll of that stuff. I will check it out for sure.

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I am just today having the air assist error. I took the air assist fan out and cleaned it with compressed air and q-tips. Funny thing - I am not using magnets and it seems to stop in the exact same place every time…near the right side about an inch in. My design is all cuts. I can move the design to the middle of the machine and everything cuts just fine. Emailed support :confused:

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This is going to sound weird, but turn off the machine and look under the rail on the gantry that protects the head ribbon. There are a series of screws that hold it on. Look closely and see if they are all screwed in properly, especially the far right screw.

Mine was loose and seemed to be causing me trouble too. Here is a pic of mine before I tightened it:



If you look closely you can see the head isn’t firmly against the black metal, it wasn’t screwed in all the way.

If it’s loose you need a torx driver to tighten it back up. Be careful not to push on the gantry in a way that might knock it off track.

Very curious if yours is loose too, please let me know what you find.


I got the air assist error again. This time I am pretty sure it was due to the magnet. I had a large print I was doing with MDF, about 18 minutes to cut. After it failed the first time, I air-sprayed the fan and removed some gunk. (not much since I had just cleaned it). I started the print again and it got the air assist error in the EXACT same spot. I checked the magnets, and sure enough there was one right behind it holding down the MDF on the bed. I am removed that magnet and am now cutting 1 more time to see if it makes a difference with the fan. Ugh… how annoying! I wish there was an option to continue printing. I am hoping my draft board doesn’t look too bad after running part of it through 3 times, but I’m guessing it might be a bit noticeable.

Update: after moving the magnet, it continued cutting! So there is definitely something to the magnet that is affecting the fan. I guess it’s time to get those hard drive magnets.

Update: no issue with the draft board doing the cut 3 times. :slight_smile: Maybe a cool feature would be “resume after air assist” so it doesn’t have to recut everything. I’m sure that would be low on the priority list, but it still would be helpful!

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