Anyone else about sick of their machine?

Is anyone else here getting frustrated and dang near sick of their Glowforge?

I ordered this thing because it was supposed to be simple. Anyone could use it. You through in your material and you could (for the most part) get reliable results. It looked “so easy” on the YouTube video. You could create the world, you could cut or engrave dang near anything!

I am finding this to be much different than the warm fuzzy feeling @dan pitched in the video.

All I have found is that if you use Proofgrade materials you are pretty much okay. And that’s pretty much it. Everything else is complete trial and error and tons of time.

I have finally had it with this process. I don’t want to always use just Proofgrade materials so that I can get stuff done quickly.

For example, Glowforge is a CO2 laser. I have a 45W Pro. I have a material that I know is stainless. I want to engrave on it with Cermark. Cermark provides a sheet showing the settings that you should use depending on the material. It’s in simple inches per minute and simple power settings based on wattage. BUT NOT THE GLOWFORGE! I have to use a spreadsheet from Glowforge that is so vague to convert numbers based off of an algorithm that they have made up in their heads. And that is just for the speed.

Basically I have to waste some material, some time, and some Cermark (which is expensive as crap) to try and find the right settings (even though Cermark has provided the inches per minute and the wattage for me) just to engrave a simple design on a small piece of stainless.

I have searched the forum. Save your breath. It isn’t that simple. You always have the usual people on here that comment and tell you to search the “terms” but no real help. Don’t you think that the person probably already did that? A majority of the time there are a lot of comments that refer to “pew pew” and other comments that are trying to be funny but are really just wasting your time.

I have other types of CNC machines. For example, I have an X-Carve CNC router. I bought it knowing that I had to build it and that it was a “tinkerers” machine. I went in to it expecting what I got. I paid a lot of money for the Glowforge just to find out that it comes with a forum just like Inventables to which all of the users are left to figure out most everything by trial and error because in my case Glowforge has its own arbitrary units handed down by God himself apparently instead of using the industry standard. Well, unless you buy their materials.

If I would have known that I would have to spend pointless time on a forum trying to get stuff done, I would have just got a cheaper Chinese laser with a deeper cut bed and simple units for settings.

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My experience has been that using proofgrade gives me great results every time.

Using other materials (which I have done a bunch of) requires some testing to get the numbers right when you first use the material, but after that it works similarly to proofgrade. I’ve done birch ply (1/8" and 1/4"), 110lb card paper, lots of different acrylics (ebay, inventables, amazon), hardwoods from Rockler and ebay (1/8" purple heart, 1/8" red heart, 1/8" walnut, and more). I usually start with numbers from a similar proofgrade material and adjust from there. I have also found lots of forum posts with exact number settings for various materials.

Basically, my experience has been pretty much what I saw in the videos promoting Glowforge.

It does take a little work testing when you use non-proofgrade materials, but that is expected. You also need to clean your mirrors/lens (lid camera too) regularly, but that only takes a few minutes.

You are complaining about engraving on steel, something the promotional videos never showed, I don’t think it’s listed anywhere as being something that is supported. It’s an advanced use case, you can’t expect it to just work and be handled. Then you conflate that into being the issue with everything else. As I said, my experience has been that most laserable materials work well with little effort/testing.


There is also a spreadsheet that converts between GF power and speed levels and “real” numbers.


I’ll agree with one point, having obfuscated speed/power setting’s is a little annoying. When I was doing my testing of Laser Induced Graphene, I had a number of papers I was looking at that gave very specific power and speed settings to use. I had to convert all that with there spread sheet to figure out what the Glowforge settings would be.

That being said, it can be done with there spread sheet. (FYI, the old numbers were in IPM, I believe).

With most other lasers, you will need to do some degree of testing, as well; there power settings aren’t always accurate (mostly the cheap Chinese ones). From what I’ve heard and read about Cermark, it gives recommended settings, but most people end up tweaking them anyways.

I guess what I’m saying is, yes its annoying, but the testing you are describing is normal for every laser out there. Glowforge, on the other hand, is unique in that they offer you Proofgrade with automatic settings. That is where you get the ease of use from the Glowforge. Everything else is the same as any other laser.


On a separate note, have you looked into Cermark alternatives? People on the forum have found that some common household items can have surprisingly good results.


Almost a year in, using way more non-proofgrade material than proofgrade, and I’m still quite happy with mine.

well… no.

I think that people often ask things without searching, or after searching unsuccessfully because they didn’t know the right “terms” to search for.


That is not my experience at all. I’ve been using it for a year, and very rarely use proofgrade.

Yes, I waste a bit of material each time I try a new material. But that’s the same with any other lasercutter I’ve tried. But it’s not that bad. I usually start with proofgrade settings for something similar, and then dial it in. I can usually get it “right” within 4-5 tries. With other lasers, I did not have a starting point at all.

To me, the GF is SO much easier to use than the other laser-cutters I’ve tried. For the Epilog at the library, my designs had to have very specific settings for it to even do a cut. Never mind trying to do cuts with multiple settings in the same file. And after a while, the settings that worked previously were no longer working the same. At least the GF is consistent.

I’m sorry you feel frustrated with yours. I think part of my enjoyment stems from the fact that I now have a small library of materials that I know the settings for. I did have to go through a process to figure out those settings, but I have them now. 95% of the time I’m cutting those materials. And my material library keeps growing.

I hope you get over this hump, and figure out a few materials that you will feel comfortable with. I use mine almost every day, and I really like it.


What’s your point here?

I mean you go on about how you hate it and hate using the forum in the forum. Just venting or actually looking to improve your situation? Obviously the majority of people here are pretty happy with the machine, that’s why we’re here. I’d offer assistance, but you told me to save my breath, so until I hear you say you’re actually looking for tips or something I’ll do just that.


You’re right, the viral marketing video they did made everything look simple. From what I remember, there were only a couple of items used that were definitely not proofgrade (cardboard, macbook, and chocolate), and the rest didn’t have the codes to specify that they were using proofgrade. They showed it had a camera that “could automatically detect” what we were using, and got my attention pretty quickly.

With that said, they’ve been very open about the capabilities of what we can do, and users have been generous enough to pave some areas where Glowforge has not, yet. What expectation do you have that they are not hitting? Would you like the team to test every variation of every possible material and post their best settings? To be clear, I’m not trying to offend you, I’m just wanting to see where you’re coming from, because where I have had proofgrade not always work, I’m grateful that we have the option for it to be simple to find, acquire, and use mostly without a hitch.

It just seems unreasonable to expect a new and different product to have the exact same capabilities as others in its field. To use your example, had you bought a cheap Chinese laser, there would have been a lot missing from that for ease of use; less safety, less manuals, recommended settings would probably still be found on some online forum, you’d probably have to build the laser yourself, etc. For the average user, this machine hits the nail on the head, and if you’re more advanced, then you may have previous experience with working with more materials, but you should know it’s going to take trial and error for anything not listed previously or guaranteed such as proofgrade.

Again, not to offend or insult you, but there are plenty of people willing to buy a secondhand unit. You could get most of your money back and be able to buy ample material and a different laser. If this were a product that didn’t hit my expectations, or my expectations couldn’t be changed to be more in line with this machine, then selling it to find something more useful would be my next step.

I hope you can figure something out with your current situation, though. I agree it can be frustrating sifting through the forum to find what you’re looking for, but imagine if we didn’t have the forum at all, or the hundreds of members willing to share their combined knowledge and don’t mind the waste of material to get results with what they have. The most valuable thing you lose is time, money or material can always be restored.


Not even a little bit. I hardly EVER use proofgrade material. Only when it’s really the best material for the job. Which it is, sometimes.

But, if you’re really hating it… I would be happy to take it off your hands for as much as half what you paid for it. :wink: I’m sure I can find some use for it!


If you were looking for automatic push-a-button settings such as you will find on the side of an instant pot, you won’t find that on the GF. Of course, PG makes the process easier, but tweaking is often necessary even with those items. Certainly, some non PG items require even more experimentation and tuning to get just the right effect you are looking for, but you always have PG settings and your own experience and that of others to draw upon.

I am happy that I can put a wide variety of items in the machine to engrave. Gee, it would be nice if I could work on items taller than 2", but I was aware of that limitation going in. It does not even bother my generally skeptical wife who goes shopping for stuff every couple of weeks or so that we can put in the GF to personalize for others.

I am happy with my purchase. I have never not been able to get something done that I envisioned.


On that note…there have been some things that I never even envisioned being able to do…that I have done. Things only in my head with no way to realize them; enter Glowforge. Though it’s taking me a long time and the learning curve still continues, I went into this with absolutely ZERO expectations…so it’s been easy to please me. And very pleased, I am.


I have and I would eventually like to try it, but it’s very frustrating that you can’t buy a known product that works and use their recommended settings for speed and feed. There are times that testing is no big deal, but when you pay a fortune for Cermark and they even have specific numbers that you can’t easily plug those in to Glowforge due to their own way of figuring these things.

Have you been able to use slide through easily? Or even been able to line anything up without having to make a template first?

I have to keep a stack of printer paper next to my machine so that I can score an outline of the object I want to engrave.

Totally agree. GF sparks the imagination. I have produced many things I would have never dreamed of creating before the GF.

The GF is a tool. It requires acquired skill and experience to use it effectively. And requires creative artistry to take it to the next level. Talent on the machine develops over time. Just as you should not expect a purchase of brushes and paint to enable you to instantly and magically produce awe inspiring pieces of art, you should not put all of the blame on the GF when you struggle to do something new with it.


The stainless, to me, should be a no brained. We know the wattage of Glowforge so we should be able to easily use the product settings. My main argument is that Glowforge has departed from basically an industry standard of speeds and feeds by distance/time and a scale of 0-100 for power or even just 0-45w.

I potentially bring a ton of experience and advice to the table, but you are walking some sort of line between asking for tips and just being mad and wanting to commiserate. What I was trying to do was get to to elaborate, but if you want to treat me like I’m the enemy, have at it. Good luck, you have burned all my goodwill on this.


You’re still not addressing the point of why the complex algorithms for feed and speeds. If you know that a well known product uses settings based off of an industry standard of measurement then why can’t Glowforge use that instead of having to guess at a starting point and go from there?

So you are assuming they are dumb from the start.

nope. Didn’t say that at all.