Are replacement units being sent with cosmetic defects?

This email showed up in a Glowforge Facebook group I am part of. I am taking it with a huge grain of salt, but it appears the OP was shipped a defective unit with a lid that was difficult/impossible to close. Customer support offered to send him a replacement, but it would/could have cosmetic defects… @dan is that really happening? If so seems a bit off to buy a brand new machine and get one with defects.


Thank you for the clear report! We are working hard to ensure you’re able to create amazing things with your Glowforge. We’re so sorry you’ve run into trouble and we’re here to fix it.
We will replace this unit for you right away as the lid should not be that difficult to close. However, you might get a unit right now with other cosmetic issues like those you identified. If you don’t want that, tell us so we can hold until we are no longer shipping units with cosmetic blemishes.
We’ve tried to make the next steps fast and easy. Normally we’d require that you either send the unit to us for investigation or we place a hold on a credit card before shipping out a replacement. Since we are just getting started, we’ll make an exception for you and send out a new unit while you’re shipping back the old one so you can get printing right away.
Let’s get started.

  1. Package your Glowforge and Accessory Kit. Incorrect packaging of the Glowforge will void the unit’s warranty. You will need the original boxes and foam, and the important orange and red bits listed in the Glowforge User Manual. Instead of waiting for replacement handle locks, please simply tape the box closed.
  2. Tomorrow, we will send you shipping labels so you can drop off your unit at FedEx or even easier, schedule your unit to be picked up at your home via FedEx Pick-up Delivery.
  3. Let us know when you’ve shipped your printer. We’ll reach out with updated tracking information when your new Glowforge ships so you can schedule your delivery through UPS My Choice.
    Our goal is to have a Glowforge back in your workspace as soon as possible. We’re here at any time you have a question.
    Dan H.

I saw that in fb group as well. I really wanted to know what was going on too and was surprised I didn’t see it posted here at all. Thought about posting it but everyone seems to harp on any conversation that leans towards the negative so I didnt.

This part is especially distressing…


I accepted delivery on my unit today, and the disclaimers you have to agree to included this:

Our cosmetic standards will improve.
Our first units are beautiful, but may have some cosmetic defects or differences from units that come later. You may see small changes to the paint finish or bumps in the plastic. The door may not close as smoothly. We continuously work with our suppliers to make every Glowforge unit more perfect than the last, so they will get a bit more refined in the coming months. If you would like to wait until a later date to receive a unit that may have improved cosmetic standards, just click here to delay your shipment delay your shipment.

So yes, this is really happening, and if you accept delivery you have agreed to it.


Why? You keep your price but get a machine without cosmetic problems.
The trade-off is you wait longer

We were offered the pre-orders to help them work out their manufacturing lines… the first pancake out of the pan, so to speak.
The fact that :glowforge: allow you to get a unit WITH that price but WITHOUT blemishes is pretty generous i believe


My question was if you get a unit that has to be returned, is your replacement going to be a blemish/door issue unit.

Because I didn’t sign up to be the trial group of the manufacturing process. After all this wait, I would expect a machine that is worth the money I put down. Yes I get a machine in the end but I do so by waiting EVEN LONGER. Preorders aren’t typically to work out kinks. A lot of the time it is to secure capital to get a company up and running. Or to buy parts in bulk cheaper. None of their marketing alluded to me getting a blemished unit for my preorder price. A lot of companies that end up with blemished product sell it off later at a discount.

That’s fine if you feel that way but I completely disagree. In my mind, it’s paying thousands of dollars and waiting years only to have it arrived scratched or dinged… And to know that they knew about it and still sent it? That’s terrible.


That bothered me a whole lot too, but I am feeling better about it after someone posted the actual text from the golden email - I haven’t received that email yet, and I found it much less distressing when taken in context of the first-run potential cosmetic blemishes disclaimer. First runs have problems, early adopters often won’t mind, and they are being pretty up front about it as far as I can see. Personally I am happy to wait until it’s smoothed out a bit so to speak.


meh Doesn’t worry me… i want a laser, not a trophy piece.

I accept that you and others don’t feel that way, and i can understand why.
Unfortunately your only apparent options are to wait (probably much) longer or refund… and that blows… but as @lorna said it is not as though they are trying to hide it (for a change)

But from my POV as long as the mechanics and software work 100% then a few scratches won’t phase me at all

I think that is the case. I thought that was made pretty clear by the facebook group post you are referring to. If I understand it correctly that user decided to cancel & refund instead of getting another blemished unit to replace their malfunctioning (and blemished) one.


Again, that’s fine if you see it that way. But not everybody does. Judging by the reaction in the fb thread, a lot of people are upset by it. I don’t think wanting a machine that looks like the advertisements that got me to buy it is unreasonable. I didn’t see dings and scratches in that.

I only sort of agree. Yes they are telling you beforehand (which doesn’t really make up for it imo) But they aren’t telling anyone else. I know the common refrain will likely be “but it probably won’t affect you” which is of no comfort because there’s no indication when a second run will be. Basically if you want an unblemished unit but you knew it may mean waiting longer, you may back out… but we don’t get to know until were presented with the “A: take a scratched up product. B: wait for an indeterminate amount of time. Or C: cancel” ultimatum.

Mechanical issues are important. Didn’t have any on the unit I have. Didn’t notice any cosmetic stuff though I’m sure there would be some if I looked.

That aside… a pristine laser cutter is a useless cutter. After you use the GF for a couple weeks it will be unrecognizable from the smoke and particulates. It might be fairly clean on the outside but it will be constantly dirty and smelly. Doesn’t matter how much you clean it. It’s not an IPhone.


I completely understand your sentiment but I don’t think anyone expects it to remain pristine. I personally don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to make my own marks on the machine rather than have it show up pre scratched. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a thing I spent thousands of dollars on to show up un-marred.


I totally understand where you’re coming from. If my options were, like, a scratch and dent model or wait an extra 2 months, I’d probably lean more towards the latter. I don’t want to wait, but I want to be the person to drop my cell phone in the toilet.

But I would have no problem getting a unit with less shiny plastic, or a slightly different shade, or different button texture. I think there’s a big difference between newer units being more refined and current shipping units being damaged. From the emails posted, I don’t know which scenario they’re talking about.


I agree and personally things like this wouldn’t bother me at all. I probably wouldn’t even notice that its different in minor cases like this. The email text does allude to these sort of issues as well. What gets to me is that it seems glowforge is lumping in actual damage into that category (based on the posts in the fb group). That’s not ok. For me personally the damage itself isn’t as much of a bother as it is that they know about it and send it anyways. And like you said, if the option was ‘wait 2 months’ maybe I’d wait (Not sure) but that’s not even the option. It’s ‘wait some amount of time till we fix it’… how long will that take? Would I even believe their estimates if they tell me?


I’m disappointed in the cosmetic issues I have seen so far, misaligned bowed lids, painted exterior, visible mold lines, and that’s just what’s built in. Shipping cosmetics, factory defects, etc.


As I said about my lid: it doesn’t have the “feel” of a premium device, but it works fine. If the functionality had been impacted, I would expect a working replacement. This is one of those things where I find it difficult to agree with the complaint. Glowforge is offering a deal: you can get one of the earlier machines knowing it might have a slightly janky case or you can wait until they perfect the molds and glues and production process. That’s the deal. “I want it now AND I want it perfect” is kind of an unreasonable demand. At some point in the process of going from making 0 machines to making tens of thousands, there are is going to be a point where the quality is good enough for many people: the door rubs a bit or the screen printing isn’t lined up, so do you throw it away and make everyone wait longer, or offer it to someone who can overlook that in exchange for having their machine today. The message is clear that they’re working on refining the exterior, but in order to get there you need to run the production line. There are a lot of people who have waited a long time for what’s inside the case.


When we pre-ordered two years ago it was for a full production item not a beta or pre-production substandard product. Production units have been shipping for month now. When will they be finished article we ordered?


I dont think this is an unreasonable demand considering shipments are already ~ 2 years late. They had plenty of time to get this right while they were working out the hardware/software kinks of the machine over that time.

The photos I saw in the facebook post made me cringe, and I would personally be pretty upset to receive a unit in this condition after such a long wait. Then to be told I couldnt get a pristine unit without ANOTHER wait would just make the situation worse.

I know they didnt do this on purpose, but its sloppy and disheartening. Im not sure whats going on, but I hope they get it rectified quickly, because if I get a unit that looks defective coming out of the box im going to be pretty upset.


Part of it is we don’t know what was in the email to support - only what the reply was.

The only thing I kind of noticed opening up my unit were the support ribs in the case. I actually thought it was part of the design for a minute, since they are symmetrical on both sides of the unit. Maybe I’m just not the pickiest person in the world… but nothing at all gave me pause when inspecting it. Maybe I just got lucky.

Part of discrete manufacturing is improving in those processes. Sometimes you can tell with Rev numbers on a product, or a product code. (Which I know you know all of this).

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The final units will be the last ones made. Prior to that, there’s still room for improvement.

You are being unreasonable on this one. It doesn’t matter that you’ve waited two years, production is ramping up now and the first units off the line will not be as good as the later ones. They can’t just click their heels together and send them from a wormhole in the future. The only way to ensure the first ones shipped are perfect is to delay shipment until they are perfect, which would make a bunch more people unhappy. Think of it this way: say I’m opening a bakery, I have to buy and set up all the kitchen equipment, develop recipes and procesess, etc. You want a pie. You really really really want a pie. I tell you you can have one of the first pies I make but it might not have the perfect crust or balance of apples to rhubarb, or you can wait until later when I’ve got everything dialed in. No, you demand to have the first pie I ever try to make, and you want it perfect. And that’s perfectly reasonable because it took so long to get my shop set up. No, reality doesn’t work that way.


Prototypes, alpha, beta and preproduction are where you sort all this stuff out. For mass production of 10000 units they should all be exactly the same finished design so you can churn them out on a flow line. The fact they are still building small batches and sorting out defects is probably why production is nowhere near the required rate.