Anyone have a comparison with $366 ebay laser (40W CO2)?


I was super keen on GF when I first discovered them, laser cutting would be really helpful for the work I do in prototyping and small scale mfg of electronics, enclosures etc. I thought laser cutters were $10k+ and the price point of GF was amazing!

I pre-ordered day one (maybe 3-4 hours in) and have been following closely since. The cloud requirement is a bit bothersome, it doesn’t make sense that uploading images to a server (along with all other GF users) to process and retransmit control data is more efficient than using any modern PC’s insane processing power locally. I can understand the value business wise of locking users into an ecosystem but that’s not the stated reason. The December shipping was also a bit of a stretch, it sounded like some actual units would ship but it’s just the test units, fair enough but wasn’t too clear at the pre-order stage.

Anyways, I’m still super keen to get this new tool and so when I saw yesterday someone post a comment elsewhere about a $366 ebay 40W CO2 cutter with cheap shipping I immediately bought one! I don’t need many fancy features, I just need to be able to accurately cut some thin materials (acrylic / plastic / etc).

Has anyone tried these really low cost systems before and still justify the GF over it? Are they super hard to use? I’ll get it next week and can’t wait to try it out, I’m still keeping my pre-order at GF for now (2 lasers better than 1?), but if anyone from the community has tried both can you let me know if the GF value is going to be that much higher for basic cutter use?



Um… Good luck with that.

Welcome to the forum. I assume you have been reading the forum, just haven’t joined for posting purposes. Wow. Day one order! I’d be interested in your experience with the Ebay CO2 cutter. I have no experience with one. But I do have experience with peripherals and the incredible challenge it is to get them to work with whatever computing system can hook up with it through whatever means. I believe the cloud approach for the Glowforge is a fantastic way to overcome this problem. I just upgraded to Windows 10. My printer drivers for the five different laser printers I have access to and need for various and sundry projects have been a nightmare. The interfaces have changed and what worked before doesn’t (specifically booklet printing one one). And the way Windows 10 (anything from 7 on) deals deals with network interfaces and networks is a pain for me since it is a small office environment that can’t really use the home model for security but takes forever to get network discovery going in sharing resources. Yes. It can be done, but it’s taking some fiddling. Now add to it the fact that we are going to using iPads and Nexuses and iPhones and Kindle Fires to work with our Glowforges. It should be as device agnostic as possible. There have been so many peripherals that I have purchased in the past that play nice with only one operating system, then you are on your own with anything else. I’m giving up some independence, for ease of use.


There is lots of info out there on the low cost imported lasers. Google searches and YouTube searches will get you the info you need to set it up and use it. I almost did the same, but directed my energy into stocking up on materials instead.

Very good points, no USB on an iphone!

I discovered GF a few weeks before pre-orders, so my timing was perfect, I got in a few hours late, around the $500k point, I really really want one (would save me from a painful cutting job I do immediately).

I’ve started to research the 40W ebay systems as a previous post suggested, looks like a once over on arrival (loose screws, polish mirrors, etc) and some minor mods might help. I don’t mind one-time tweaks if it means future repeated tasks are easier.

I’ve got some free time over the holiday break to play with it, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for feedback!

The bed is only 8x12" and is obviously not a turn key unit. Probably the power and resolution are stretching the truth but if it works at all will be worth the price. Let us know if you get it working. Would be fun to tinker with.

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Sorry for my blunt answer a little bit ago. It’s just that I have a friend that tends to buy all his tools at Harbor Freight. And it seems that every time he goes to use them, they break, and then he comes knocking on my shop door asking to borrow mine or for me to weld/repair his broken useless sub-par “Great deal” tools.


No problem, I’m definitely not expecting turn-key but I don’t mind a bit of fiddling. I teach ECE so any tech project usually ends up as a discussion in class whether it was a success or not. I’ve been using a knk zing for XY-cutting of thin materials but I think a laser would do a much better job. I’ve got the holiday break clear so perfect time for a new project.


I’ve had friends go the cheap eBay route, and it’s really for people with a high threshold for fiddling and tweaking - the hardware and software are both pretty bad, so my friends ended up replacing the controller, so they could replace the horrible proprietary software with the reasonably good open source software. That’s fine if you’re into that sort of thing, but it’s a lot of work. So it’s good as a learning experience, but if you just need a laser to work, you want a local supplier (so when the laser burns out, which it will, you don’t need to ship from China and wait weeks, and you want software that’s not horrible.

The argument for putting the computationally intensive work on servers is so that it can scale on demand, and probably more importantly so that GlowForge can manage the software on the servers, so everyone always has the latest capabilities with no requiring people to install/update/patch software on their computer (i.e. saving GF a fortune in support costs, and making GF much easier for non-technical folks to set up and use). GF has said that there will never be a charge to use the GF to do anything they’ve talked about so far. And most home users that would buy a GF likely have WiFi and internet access already. That might be an issue in a shop or garage, though.

I have a buddy who is a master DIYer and it took him about a month to get his running right. As others have said, the hardware & software are a nightmare. Even after it was running it was far from tinker-free with each cut. In the end he ditched it, but the bullet & bought a Zing.

I haven’t read through every post here, so if nobody else has mentioned it, you also need to have air & water pumps for air handling & cooling.

I considered getting one to get familiar with lasers, but in the end figured out it wasn’t worth the effort that would be required. And as we all know, no $366 bargain basement project stays at $366. LOL

Please do let us know how it works out! I know the units pretty well but I’ll let others speak on their behalf. Just two important things so you don’t wind up with an injury: make sure the case is grounded, and make sure to add an interlock so the beam turns off when you open the door. Quality of these varies so YMMV but both of those crucial safety precautions were missing from the one I got.


Thanks for the suggestions, from what I’ve read it sounds like they have improved from '09 (LPT / no quality control) to now (USB / at least a tag with QC check & names), but you never know. It has already shipped from eBay so hopefully by the end of next week I will have it in hand to check it out.

My buddy’s was from maybe 2 years ago. And I have seen other recent items saying pretty much the same thing. I wouldn’t bank too heavily on things having been improved…

I can second @dan statement about making sure the case is grounded. One of my friends got one of last month and it just stopped working after a few test runs. Turns out nothing was properly grounded and he fried one of the boards. So now he have a large paperweight since he hasn’t been able to get a replacement part yet.

Comparing GF to a ebay china made product is like comparing StarWars to Spaceballs. “May the force be with you”.

Don’t you you mean Schwartz?

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“Howd you get that scar?” “Laser”


Thanks for the comment on grounding, I’ll make sure to double check that. Also no intention of running with lid up, thanks! Some pretty cavalier videos demoing laser use with nothing between a reflection and their eyes. I suppose if it’s not focused it’s less dangerous but still…

The comparison is definitely apples to oranges. At this point GF specs look way better, BUT and it’s a big but, I get the laser next week whereas I’ll get my GF Q1? Q2? Sometime next year… For 10x $ less than GF MSRP and delivery next week it’s definitely worth a shot.

I don’t have very high requirements for the system, what I need it to do is make clean cuts repeatedly (100’s of circles, rectangles with rounded corners). Manually it’s been a real pain (punches, hand trimming, outsourcing), whereas I’ve already 3D printed jigs to hold these small parts (Shapeways) and hope the laser will just cut the basic shapes. A lot of the art targeted features of GF (tracing hand drawings, etc) are not really needed for my use in small scale mfg.

Presumably one big difference between the cheap Chinesw imports and something like the Glowforge is the amount of support that you can expect and the (continued) availability of consumables and spare parts.

Go for it. But plan on keeping the GF too. 2 is always better than 1. I learned that with my 3D printing work. First a Makerbot 2X and then a Lulzbot 5. I’ve got 3 3D scanners too :smiley: All of this stuff is addictive. One thing I’ve found is that the right tool makes every job easier. You can do things with cheaper tools but often times you’re trading quality or ease of use or tinker time for the dollars saved.

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