April 2021 Update

I love Spring. The sun’s shining, the birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming. This weekend, we rented an RV and hit the road camping - in 75 degree sunshine, which never happens in Seattle in April.

When I was a kid, there was a TV ad for something called “The Hair Club for Men”. At the end, Sy Sperling would look right into the camera and say, “I’m not just the president - I’m also a client.” And he’d be holding an old, bald picture, with his now-luscious mane of hair standing as proof that he used his product.

Well, I’m that guy. I may not be bald yet, but I love what we make. Or as Sy (RIP) would say: I’m not just the CEO of Glowforge, but I’m also a client. In the last few weeks before the RV adventure, our family…

  • Engraved cardboard notebooks with pictures for each other
  • Cut petals out of bluejeans to make decorative flowers
  • Designed a stand for my daughter’s microphone for school

And I designed a simple doorstop, because who needs to order plastic junk from factories halfway around the world when you can push a button and print it yourself?

Let me just take a second on that, because while the doorstop is pretty basic, I’m really proud of it. It’s here now, in the catalog: Instant Everyday Doorstop.

And sure, I could have bought a door wedge from Amazon. It would have taken about 20 hours to arrive, and cost seven bucks. That’s kind of a modern miracle: someone’s going to injection mold a chunk of rubber in a factory in Asia, pack it on a container ship, sail it halfway around the world (hopefully not getting stuck in the Suez), and deliver it to a distribution center in Seattle. Then robots are going to fetch it, put it in a big cardboard box filled with plastic balloons, and a real live human is going to grab it and drive it across the city to drop it at my door. All for seven bucks, and in just over a day.

I printed a doorstop in 2 minutes, for seventeen cents.

That’s ten thousand times as fast, for one thirtieth of the price.

That’s a special kind of magic.

It’s the reason I’m Sy. I love what I do, and I’m so happy to share our latest with you. For example, this month…

  • You can now get immediate support and help, live, in Chat

  • Printscan™, a new feature that spots problems in your designs before printing

  • Puzzle Maker, this new feature in Premium lets you create puzzles with a simple click

  • What’s your Glowforge business story?

  • Another great Design of the Month

  • Faster shipping times for Glowforge printers

  • Referral rewards for you

Get immediate, live help with Chat Support (Beta)

Sometimes as a CEO, you get extremely excited about things that other people take for granted. Like finding a new supplier of cardboard boxes (this is a real thing I did a happy dance about once). Launching Live Chat Support is one of those things – I’m so delighted that our team can offer even faster support when you need it.

As of right now, you can chat directly with a member of our support team for customer service or technical support - Live Monday through Friday, from 10am - 2PM Pacific time.

Depending on when you are most creative, you might look at those hours and think, “Hey, but what if I have a question at 2am?” As an extreme night owl myself, I’m right there with you.

If you decide to chat with Glowforge to get support, you’re probably in the middle of an exciting project, and something has seriously stumped you. That’s why when we talked about offering chat, I said, “It’s not worth doing unless we know we can connect them to the right person to answer their question.” We’re not going to staff it with folks who can say “Thank you, call again later” - we want to staff it with experts.

So when you start chatting with us, you’ll be connected to a real live problem solver who works for Glowforge. They’ll be from either Seattle (sunny right now) or Denver (snowy right now). If they solve your problem too fast and you find yourself at a loss for small talk, ask them what the weather is outside.

If you’ve ever chatted with a company before to get help, this is nothing like that. It’s so much better. You’ll be talking to a real person who is really, really knowledgeable about Glowforge right away. We’ve invested a ton of resources to make this program useful for you, and we’ll keep investing.

Starting today, when chat is available, you’ll see the chat button in the lower right of support.glowforge.com.

If no one is available, you can click the support button to leave us a message and we’ll reply by email.

Can you tell how big of a deal this is to me? I think this is one of those things that’s exciting for CEOs and everyone else. Unlike cardboard boxes.

Free new feature for everyone: Printscan™

This new feature took way more math than you’d think. We’ve been brainstorming on it for literally years, and now we get to launch it for everyone!

Here’s the challenge: designs that concentrate lots of laser energy in a tiny space can lead to charring, discoloration, and material damage. Put another way, lots of tiny cuts make the material sooty. That can leave you with a mess instead of the project you wanted.

To help prevent this, we released Printscan for everyone as part of your free Glowforge Print membership. Printscan estimates if your print will experience material damage due to the concentration of laser energy. If Printscan concludes that there’s a high risk of material damage, it will give you a warning like this, so that you can decide what to do next:

Whether you’re printing tiny pieces for your basement-filling model trains or engraving tiles for your new kitchen backsplash, your Glowforge will work hard to make charred, tiny bits a thing of the past.

To get best results, keep these things in mind:

  • The scan and warning results are more accurate if you are using Proofgrade materials and preset settings.
  • Printscan analysis is only an estimation. Even if you don’t get a warning, there may still be material damage.
  • Similarly, you might get a warning even though the print will turn out OK.
  • Printscan will not always complete its analysis, e.g. if you use the ‘Unknown Material’ setting, or if the analysis fails.
  • This feature is not a substitute for proper safety precautions. As always, follow the user manual and watch your Glowforge during prints.

The team put way more info about Printscan in this article: “Highlighted Areas May Be Damaged” Warning.

One-click Puzzles in Glowforge Premium

When my kids found out we were working on this feature, they instantly had a thousand and one ideas for what to make with it first. Since I get to play around with all of our new features before release, I can personally confirm that Puzzle Maker is a ton of fun.

And it’s so easy. Pick your engraving, click the puzzle button, and print! Magic markers and colored decorations are optional.

If you’re a member of Glowforge Premium, you can use Puzzle Maker to easily turn your prints into beautiful, custom puzzles. Here’s an in-depth guide to learn how to Create a Puzzle with Puzzle Maker.

Can I promote your business?

As CEO, part of my job is to brag to folks about how cool and successful Glowforge is. The way I think about it, the best way to talk about Glowforge success is to talk about your success with your Glowforge.

(Plus, I’m way more comfortable bragging about what you make when I talk to journalists than bragging about that really great meeting I had the other day. You know, the one with the beautiful agenda and really creative action items).

One of the things journalists have been asking about lately is Glowforge-powered businesses. And we know many of you have them - there are tens of thousands of businesses that have been created around Glowforge ownership!

This week alone, we’ve had a big newspaper and a big network TV show ask us for introductions to cool companies that started their hobby and their business on a Glowforge during the pandemic.

If that sounds like you, just email press@glowforge.com and tell us:

  • What new hobby did you start while at home this last year?
  • When did your Glowforge come into the mix?
  • How’d you start making money from your new hobby?

Reading about what you’re building is going to be the highlight of my week, I can tell already.

Sold out on HSN

Well, it finally happened: they got Bailey and me on live TV. HSN bought a bunch of printers from us a while ago, and did a special live sales event to sell them. It was terrifying, it was fun. You can see it all here!

Our Design of the Month (and why I love it)

I keep calling this month’s design a “nickelodeon” and everyone at Glowforge who doesn’t remember the 80s just looks at me in confusion. But Nickelodeon is a synonym for jukebox, the place I grew up watching Inspector Gadget, and most importantly a very fun word to say. Almost as fun as this thing is to print!

One of my favorite things about this month’s design is the story behind it. Before buying his Glowforge, Nicholas had never designed anything. He’d always had great ideas, but had never been able to bring them to life – he didn’t think he had the skills like painting or sculpting or woodworking to make them happen. And now he has a whole business built on his creations!

Nick’s Glowforge story is exactly what we had in mind when we first dreamed up the 3D laser printer. Everyone should be able to make beautiful, useful things. Every time I meet a Glowforge creator like Nick, it reminds me why I do all of this.

We’re here to create a world where anyone can print anything. Thanks for that absolutely stunning reminder, Nick!

Glowforge Premium members can get it for free, this month only, in the Glowforge catalog. After this month (or for those of you who aren’t members), you can also use that link to purchase the design for $49.99.

Shipping times are down: if you’re waiting for your Glowforge, it’s now coming much faster.

(And referrals are coming faster too).

In the last few months, two things (one great, one not so great) happened:

  1. Glowforge popularity skyrocketed

  2. Global supply chain hijinx (the Big Boat is just one example) hit manufacturing particularly hard

As a direct result, our wait times for Glowforge delivery got longer.

And because referrals are tied to delivery date, your referral rewards took longer to show up in your account.

Now, we’ve made huge progress. If you bought your Glowforge a few days ago, we estimated you’d get it in 12 weeks. But we just sent out an update: we’re reducing all those delivery times to just 4 weeks! And that goes for new purchases too.

It also means if a friend recently purchased their Glowforge with your referral, that means you’ll receive your referral reward much sooner.

If you know a friend who’s considering getting their own Glowforge but was discouraged by the long wait, now’s the time! Which leads me to ask…

Have I said enough about our referral program? I feel like I forget to mention it sometimes, and then new folks miss out.

Glowforge has always grown by word-of-mouth. That’s why so many new folks are here in our community this month (Welcome!). And it’s the reason we’ve sent millions of dollars to customers by way of thanks.

Today, most new Glowforge owners are referred by other owners. That’s incredible – your community sees your work and says “I want to be like you!” You’re a great role model.

Since our shipping times are speeding up (see above), we know a lot of creators will be ready to bring home their Glowforge. At least, that’s what they’ve told us.

If you’re a new Glowforge owner, this surge of interest is your first big chance to reap the rewards of your newfound expertise.

I don’t want you to miss out, so here’s a quick rundown about our referral program:

  • Your referral link gives you the power to help your family, friends, and followers bring home a Glowforge – it’s the best price we ever offer on our models.
  • When you refer someone, we don’t just give them something – we give you something too!
  • Referral rewards are $250 for Glowforge Plus and $500 for Glowforge Pro.

Here’s where we go into all the details about how referrals work: glowforge.com/referrals.

This community has grown in directions I would never have predicted, and it’s entirely because the very first Glowforge owners told all of their friends, and their friends were wonderful.

What will the Glowforge community look like 6 months from now? 6 years from now? I think I know the broad strokes, but the specifics are up to you.

And now, back to printing!

It’s going to be a busy spring here at Glowforge. We have so many different projects in progress that I am eager to tell you about (soon, I promise!).

But in between all of the meetings and experiments and demonstrations, I’m also going to make time to print things that I’d normally buy.

Printing this doorstop may seem like a little thing, but to me, it’s a revelation. I’ve been telling everyone about it, because I can’t get over how I just… skipped the entire supply chain. No more cardboard box deliveries, no more faraway factories, no more frustrating clamshell packaging, no more basically-disposable products, and no boat stuck in the Suez Canal.

I just printed it.

I know, I know. “Dan, you run a 3D laser printing company. Printing things is what you do.”

That’s true! But now I feel like even I was underestimating my Glowforge.

What about my lamps? My desk? My chair? My goodness, I have a lot to do.

This is why I’ll be awake at 2am, printing in the garage!


PS: Discussion of this update is happening right here, right now!