Aura for my daughter

My GF Pro is no longer working and I will get another for myself (referb) but I was wondering if I should get my 11 year old a Aura for Christmas. I can put it in a different place in our house and she is learning how to use GF at school (I use mine a lot and don’t have time to share with her and I want her to be able to learn to use it herself - just not on a pro). How do you all like it? They use TinkerCad at school and she has it on her ipad - I’m thinking she can connect to the Aura through her ipad and use my GF subscription to get files to create as well.


That would be a very generous and fun Christmas gift!

I have been using mine lately to cut parts for paper flowers and it does an excellent job, mostly because the fan doesn’t blow the pieces around on the bed. My 6+ year old basic is still going strong (knock on wood) and I still prefer it to the Aura though for the types of things I like to make.

The Aura is much slower, but for someone that’s never used anything else, they won’t have a comparison. Unless you vent it outside, the filter media will be an added expense when it needs to be changed out. It is limited at this time with which Proofgrade materials have presets…and there are certain materials that it won’t even touch, like clear and light / white acrylic. It’s a diode laser instead of a CO2, so the laser beam is blue and goes right through those colors. That’s perhaps not a deal breaker, though.

It does seem like it would be a nice little machine, especially for someone just beginning to learn. I’m sure there will be others who will have some helpful input, as well.


That’s a really cool idea. I’m all for encouraging the maker spirit. 11 seems young to be operating a laser unsupervised, though. It’s a fire and lung hazard, and the combination of boredom from running long jobs, need to be meticulous about maintenance, and the temptation to experiment could lead to danger or at least damage to the machine.

Maybe a 3D printer? It’s also a little more versatile in terms of being able to make true 3D objects.


I think once they go through basic safety (maybe make the child do the laser safety certificate for a safety class), they should be fine. I mean…it depends on the kid. I still can’t leave my almost 18 year old alone and expect her to act responsibly, but my younger son has been the more responsible one all his life. At 10, he took classes on welding, woodworking, etc (everything shop and maker), and so after him being trained on an epilog laser…mig and tig welders…table saws…i didn’t have an issue with him using the glowforge while i was still in the house.

I don’t know anything about the Aura though, and it’s a pretty expensive gift. I’d have to be certain that my child would want to use it before buying it-again, depends on the kid and mom would know best…all i have are my polar opposites to compare.

Like @chris1 said, a 3D printer would be cool, but the only one i ever had was resin, which i didn’t let my kids touch. So it’d be good to have a filament printer.

I don’t know what you have around you, but maybe you’ve got a maker space that teaches kids classes? Ours had a 3D printing class that consisted of teaching kids how to build the filament printer, and the 3D software basics to make their own projects, then at the end, they get to take their printers home with them. It was some creality ender series.

If anything…i would gift my daughter at that age a cricut or something (actually at 11, she got a sewing machine… and it was a nightmare to teach her…i ended up sending her to classes). The price tag isn’t as huge, she can print stickers and cut them out, as well as vinyl for water bottles and window stickers-cheap materials that can’t be cut in a GF (i don’t know about the aura). If you want her to use her svg knowledge, then a silhouette cutter would be good, it doesn’t have a plug and play cloud software, so there is learning to do. And then if she doesnt have an interest in it, you have one extra tool in your arsenal (i used my silhouette alot for cutting sublimation stuff to put on glowforge materials).


I would have to agree with this. I got more into my own thoughts about it vs. what I prefer…but all of these points are not only valid but on the mark.


By my understanding the Aura is not nearly as dangerous as the IR laser, and while slow would work well with thin materials for which it is designed. Designing in 3d is several levels more difficult than in 2D (though within the limit of Tinkercad is easier than say Blender) and operating a filament printer is also more difficult.

If she ends up not wanting it you will still have a useful tool.


It may be “less dangerous”, but it can still start fires and create toxic fumes. As was said, it depends on the kid; when I was 11, if someone gave me a laser, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be putting things in it that don’t belong, trying to defeat the safety interlock, etc., just like I stuck wires into the ports in the back of my Commodore 64 and blew it up. And I was not at all a wild kid, but the part of my brain that wants to see what happens was way ahead of the part that understands consequences and exercises restraint (at 48, it’s still not quite developed).

I don’t agree that 3D design is more difficult; again, it depends on the person. For me, 2D is much harder. Especially if the desired result is not simply a cut out from a flat sheet of wood. OP says they’re already using TinkerCad, in which case I think it’s more work to model things out of sheet stock and interlocking tabs than to make whatever you want and save as .STL.

In terms of operating the machine, while the Glowforge has the advantage that for the most part, there’s only one operation: put the material in and press the button, the step up to a “works out of the box” 3D printer like a Prusa Mini is not very big (in my opinion). There is of course still a hot nozzle to avoid touching and a technical fire hazard (though I think it’s an order of magnitude less). And I may be underestimating the maintenance because I am very careful with my own things. When I used to help run a makerspace used by full-grown adults who had to take an orientation and safety class and promise to take good care of the tools to get access, stuff still got broken constantly.


I have an 12 year old and a 9 year old who have spent lots of time in my workspace and know the rules inside and out. I trust them to have pretty good judgement and they get to use a lot of my tools with less supervision. No one uses the laser without Mom around.


I am just here to say I want to see her projects! :smiley: My son is 12 and I’ve been encouraging him to do something with my Glowforge (with my supervision) but he hasn’t been interested. He has been helping one of his friends with some things craft-related things though, and I’m hoping that will spark some interest.


She would never operate it alone but it seems like a better fit for a kid. They have GF at school and are learning how to use them and safety. She was a super responsible and creative. I would just like to see where her mind would go with it. We had 3d printer before - old one and my older kids never wanted to use it.


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