Automated Safety?

I looked for something like I’m about to propose throughout the forum in good faith. So, I apologize in advance if a similar idea has already been posted. Could the Glowforge software use the overhead camera to recognize something like a hand—or other body part—and prevent the laser from burning under such circumstances? Or is there not enough space to fit a body part in under the optics? Obviously, if an issue at all, this would only be a need on the pro version where someone could stick their hand through the door. Such an easy-to-use device could be misused by a child if left unattended, which it never should be. Just asking out of an abundance of caution.

Thats like asking if the companies who make power saws or drill presses can put a fail safe to detect flesh or blood. Not to be gruesome…but like with any power tool, sharp objects or even kitchen knives, the owner should exercise common sense in not allowing access to people who shouldn’t be using it.
Trying not to be cynical…but I’ve had my first laser since before my youngest was a baby (14 years). It was in my shop that had a lock on the door and had a switch on the power strip that was high on the wall away from reach of small kids.


You seem to mistakenly think your high level of awareness and common-sense would equally apply to the Herd.

Sawstop makes a Table saw with an explosive braking system that automatically stops the blade if it detects contact with the skin.

Intelligent people do dumb things, and all it takes is a split second misjudgement for disaster. Trust me, I’m very much speaking from experience as I lost an arm in a motorbike accident 26 years ago.

However, saying that, of course adding any feature adds complexity and cost so it’s not an easy decision for a manufacturer.


You should be fine as long as you don’t deliberately defeat the interlocks built into the lid. I’m also going to guess that the print button won’t “arm” unless the lid is down (for normal use). The pass-through slot on the Pro version is only 1/4", so only a small cat would be able to snake its leg in far enough to be threatened by the GF.

I’m betting that lifting the lid while it is running, would also halt operations.


That there is ol’ three paws. He learned the hard way not to bat the laser.

But seriously, that is why the pro version is sold as a class IV laser. When you multiply probability of harm by severity of harm it’s probably more of a worry that they look into the pass through than stick their hands in there. It’s like anything else that is dangerous in your house, except it’s way cooler.


As @lcuellar63 already brought up, pretty much all laser cutters (at least every one I’ve worked with) won’t run the actual laser unless the lid is closed all the way. Don’t know if this is how the glowforge will work, but on lasers I’ve used, even If you hit the start button with the lid open, all that will happen is that the laser will run a ‘preview’ print with a laser-pointer-esque red dot showing you where the cut will happen. So, if you’re getting just the basic glowforge, curious little hands should be pretty safe :slight_smile:


Yes, glowforge does have interlocks which prevent operation with the lid open. And is small enough inside that no child capable of opening the lid would also be capable of fitting inside with the lid closed.


…Have you tested this? :worried: :cold_sweat:


heh heh. No. But 20"x12"x2" ought to pose sufficient limitation to take on faith. Though I am now thinking of contortionist acrobats stuffing themselves into suitcases… At least they would need someone else to push the button on the outside though… and at that point of being deliberate, you have to acknowledge that interlocks can be defeated to leave the lid open and cut anyway (at which point the lid camera does you no good anyway)


Yes, it would require an accomplice. Similar to taking a ride in the clothes dryer, the occupant needs a button pusher!

@Stu_Ackerman, in order to secure the CE and UL certifications all of the operational safety requirements must be satisfied… but never underestimate the budding creative prowess of a child’s mind! :astonished:

1 Like

This topic has taken an interesting turn.

Yes the interlocks and warnings should be most all of the safety that Glowforge need to supply.
Simple fact is that the glowforge is a tool and with any tool(even a hammer) it is up to the operator to take the proper precautions for the situation.


I dunno what the heck you people are planning, but personally I am looking forward to seeing how many of my body parts I can modify with the GF.

Like Butthead once said: “I want a tattoo of a butt, on a butt, and I want it on my butt.”

But I will go with branding instead, and GF is just the ticket. My biggest obstacle will be getting my big butt to fit in that 1.5 inch space. Industrial strength clamps ought to do the trick, though.



sadly I’ve seen idiots take those china made lasers and laser on skin and fingernails…

LOLOL, what is wrong with people, seriously?? And yeah, I’ve seen YT videos of people lasering their hands and legs. I could see the guys from Jackass do stuff like that…but I mean, come on; they are the guys from Jackass, and that is what they do, albeit for millions of dollars and TV & Movie contracts…

Hhhhhmmm…then again, a Tattoo / GF Branding Parlor sounds like it could be fun…I need a change of pace in my life…

1 Like

Plus, no needles and any blood could be vaporized - that should kill the hep B & C. For color there has been talk about maybe using the glowforge for some sort of sintering technique. Definite business possibilities here.

1 Like

As long as you can stand the smell, and they can stand the pain :slight_smile:

Accidentally zapped my own fingernail about a week ago. The burn is just now finally growing off. It hurt. Bad.

The students who built my laser had the thing on while doing alignment, and jerked a mirror, causing the beam to spray across the whole room. The one guy who had it burn across his arm said that it felt like putting his arm under running hot water. There was a pressure sense activated along with the pain.

1 Like

Ouch! :frowning:
Hmm about a week ago…March 17? :four_leaf_clover: Don’t drink and laser.

1 Like

Ouch. Maybe I should put up a picture of an injury so that people stay away.

Here you go. These people are out there.


To answer the first question: image recognition is a crucial feature in the Glowforge. Starts with recognizing a code for materials and ability to outline, as I understand. Capabilities will evolve and there are some exciting possibilities to automagically register or recognize materials and objects. I could see the possibility of placing an iPhone in it and the Glowforge finds it, recognizes the model, orients to correct position and engraves the design with only having to push one button. But I think that, as above discussion has indicated, there are easier safety features than having to program image recognition for body parts. An interesting proposal for AI and the power of cloud computing but simply too Rube Goldberg to be effective.