Basic vs. Pro: Longer jobs?

I have a friend who is considering a Glowforge for a very specific use case: He wants to create custom badges for a technology conference that he organizes. He’d be making several hundred badges at a time, and back of napkin math says we can probably get 10 badges per sheet, meaning 50-60 sheets to get 500-600 badges done.

There are some unknowns around how long each sheet would take to cut since there’s no design yet, but at a high level we’re wondering if this is something that is at all reasonable to consider using the basic model. Given the large number of sheets involved and the extended run time that would result, we’re not clear whether the improved cooling and more powerful laser in the pro model would make a difference given the limited information currently available.

The event tends to happen twice a year, so he’d be doing this pretty infrequently and there’d be some more generic ad-hoc hobby work in between.

Thoughts from @dan or the Glowforge team?

Oddly the deciding factor here would be air conditioning.

If he’s running in an 80 degree garage, the Basic is going to need to stop frequently to cool down. It will likely be frustrating and slow. The Pro model would be able to run for a much longer period before needing to cool off, if at all.

If you’re at 70 degrees or lower, the Pro will be faster, but the difference will be less stark.

Note that this is back of the envelope right now; we’re still early in our thermal testing - just trying to give you our best sense of where they come in.

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For those in other countries; 80 deg Fahrenheit is 26 deg Celcius.

This does kindof answer my other question earlier about the basic not being able to ‘print all day’. Living in a country like Australia where the temperature routinely hits 90F (32C) in the summer, I guess this means I’ll likely need to find a place to run this that’s not in the garage or find some way to add additional cooling.

Where does it take air in from at the moment? I know there’s the tubing vent on the back but is there perhaps a spot where we could force-feed cool air in?

Please keep us up to date on the thermal testing, thanks Dan. :slight_smile:

I think it’s less of a “chamber” cooling problem, and more of a laser tube overheating problem. Most laser tubes are cooled by water. The pro model has a peltier cooling system that acts as sort of an air conditioner for the water, so that it keeps the laser tube at a cooler and better regulated temperature. If I could personally have any add on for my Basic Model, I would like the peltier cooler. Then again, I likely won’t go through anywhere near the ammount of material he mentioned. Good engineering on the peltier as well! Much cheaper and more compact than other liquid chillers out there. Correct me if I got anything wrong. @dan

It’s even more convoluted than that: it’s a liquid cooling system that circulates through the glass tube, then through an aluminum block, that has the exhaust air passing over it. To your question about air intake, it draws in from vents on the opposite side - it really needs to be in a place with ambient air that’s not too hot, or the heat exchanger doesn’t work efficiently.

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So - I understand this is a hard question to answer. But an important one. It is important to me to see some metrics on this. I would like to know how long I can run the Basic Model before it shuts down for a cooling period. Specifically inside where the air temp is, say, 75 degrees F.

I don’t want you to be disappointed with your purchase - if you’re planning to run at >75 degrees for more than hobby (one-print-at-a-time) use, I would recommend against buying Basic. There are a lot of great lasers that would work - I’ve used Epilogs and think highly of them, and of course our Pro model is a great fit for that. But I don’t want to see you bummed with your purchase.


Thanks for the updates, and transparency about what the aim of the basic vs pro is. Keep that up and you’ll have happy customers no matter what they end up purchasing :smile:

Are there diminishing returns on lower ambient temp? At some point it just make more sense to buy the Pro, but if the Basic can be run in a cooled environment of say 60 degrees, is it going to perform better at 50 degrees?

Yes, some sort of chart or table that illustrates how long the Basic can run vs the Pro in varying room temperatures would be great. I know I plan to probably do a print job every day.

Somebody touched on it a little but if you really wanted to you could just take a box AC unit and put it in the intake. I know this sounds like a joke but for a cheap option if you don’t want to cool your entire room you can just cool the intake. Or if youre super broke then you could always put a bucket of ice in front of the intake (that one’s the joke).

Just a thought since Dan mentioned ambient temperature. But like he said he won’t know until thermal profiling is done.

Btw Dan why wasn’t the block in front of the intake or in a separate chamber that didn’t deal with the inside temperature of the cutting chamber? Also is there any room to add our own Peltier coolers on the block? I saw a nice episode from Ben Heck about super cooling soda cans. Just thinking about add-on options if we have hotter environments.

Yes, I am in a hot environment that would probably give the Pro a run for its money from May to Oct. The idea is to enclose it in its own space with exactly that - a window A/C unit - cooling just the enclosed space.

Ditto here - I have an old AC unit laying around, just going to set that up and letter rip.

@dragon_silver - we don’t have thermal profiling yet but will share when we do.
@tim - haven’t tested, but I strongly suspect cooling the intake would be a very effective hack that wouldn’t void the warranty. Good idea.
@sl33pydog - the ambient air in the Glowforge box isn’t appreciably warmer than the exterior. The tube’s waste heat is very effectively coupled into the coolant.

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If I wanted to add more point cooling to the basic model (without voiding the warranty) by adding fans or some sort of external cooling would it be effective and if so where should said fans/cooling be placed? I’m thinking like putting a small fan next to it or putting an ice pad on a specific part so I can more efficiently cut a large or repeated project.

The Basic will serve my purpose just fine, UNLESS the occasional thermal pause somehow translates to a shorter design life. Y’all won’t have thermal test data for quite some time. I definitely don’t want to lose design life because I occasionally operated at 74F in Summer. Might only use the Basic for twenty small jobs a week after the initial wow period. Assume I only have to the end of pre-order (6 days) to decide on an upgrade with the discount?

I think Dan said in one of the videos that we will have the option to upgrade or downgrade once they figure out which will be manufactured first. I think…

Yeah, It’s really hard to follow the conversations through the various threads. 2 weeks ago when Dan responded about upgrading he said:

“We haven’t decided on pricing after the preorder campaign yet, so I would make the call before it finishes.”

I’m pretty sure I can upgrade after the pre-order period. But the upgrade might be more expensive than now. Just don’t know.

I’m hoping anyone who has a order placed during the preorder period can choose to upgrade at the preorder price before it the main production starts, but that might be wishful thinking

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@rpegg I am hoping the same thing. I am still on the fence about ordering the pro model. I hate to think that the price of the pro upgrade will double in 5 days. I wanted to see thermal test data. I will be running in an air conditioned office at around 72 degrees, but will be running for longer periods.

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