Benchmarks: Comparing Glowforge print times to other machines

I had an intriguing question on a YouTube video: how does the Glowforge compare regarding print times with other lasers on the market?

How would you go about answering that question? This top post is a wiki. Feel free to edit as you see fit. When we can suitably agree on a common standard of testing, those with lasers (even more powerful ones) and Glowforge possessors can start submitting samples. I for one would not know what constitutes a long print time or a short print time.

Edit: from initial replies, the answer might not be to run tests at all but reframe the question. It all depends upon the complexity of a design and so many other factors as to be practically useless or imposssible. People might not be look for extreme precision. Most likely, people with no experience just want to know roughly how long a print might take.

This is how I would like to go about answering that question:

I understand that the answer depends upon the power of the tube, material and many other things. The market is wide-ranged in quality and price spread. This question I’d like to keep track of. Something that might be useful in the long run, to share experiences and note variations, if any, among the units. People have been asking if I could use some help, and this might be a way to join in the fun.

Request #1: Can someone provide a file that is not too complex, but has these elements to test in one image. Something like the recognition plaque that I posted.
a. 3 mm acrylic
b. three different levels of greyscale engraving, say 33.3%, 66.6%, 100%
c. scoring (how would one standardize a light scoring, vs deep scoring?)
d. one through cut.
e. design it so that it takes around 10 minutes for a 40 watt laser.

Please feel free to have it this topic as you wish. I’m just throwing it out. Thanks.


Please note that the dominant factors in this are how deep you wish to engrave and how high the resolution is - so it’s virtually impossible to do an apples-to-apples. It’s much easier to test cut-through, although you need the same material for both lasers.


Also on the thru cut I would make sure to include perfect arcs, ovals, squiggles 90deg corners and sharper corners. CAM software handles all these different in terms of acceleration and deacceleration. With all else being equal(not easy) the above factors can have some pretty big effects on cut time.




Curious to see this. But isn’t the speed of the Glowforge limited at the moment? I seem to remember reading something like that.

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This is another test that will vastly improve once the Forge is in production.

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I wondered about this after seeing the videos @marmak3261 posted. The cutting/engraving in those videos seemed slower than what I’ve seen elsewhere but, as noted, there are a lot of factors involved and this is still a pre-release laser cutter. Not to mention that I have zero experience with any laser cutters.

Can other laser owners, like @smcgathyfay, comment on how typical Marion’s cuts on that ruler seemed to be compared to what they experience with other lasers of similar power?

Can @tony or @dan comment on how much, if at all, they expect cutting or engraving speed can be improved with later software releases?


The deep engrave over a large surface in the photo holder took the bulk of the time. Cutting leather and wood is a snap. As said, engraving can take the longest time, depends on complexity and on the depth.


There are two factors for engraving…speed and power…
To go deep, you go slower so it will take longer. If you want the deepest engrave you up the power and lower the speed.


Thanks - is the speed that Marion sees about what you would expect for a quality 40-45 watt laser?

My initial impression was that the speed was slower than I expected, but I have no laser experience.


Yeah, I can see where engraving would take longer than straight cuts.

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Seems about right…you can go faster with a higher power but it won’t give you the color. Fast speed vaporizes and low speed “burns” a bit more giving more color… And defocusing the laser (lowering the material a bit down out of focus) gives a better color…


I have some designs that I made on the Chinese 60w(50) laser, and basically, I manually set the power and speed to the fastest possible to barely, but surely, get through in a single pass. As long as alignment is in order(almost perfect) the cuts go through in same uniform fashion from one sheet to the next.

To really do this comparison, we would need to put the same design through another laser and the glowforge, with the same material. We would be comparing mostly with speed at which we can achieve the same cuts in as least time as possible, with noting the power level.

But, this runs into another issue.

You can crank up power to 100% or even higher(not safe) and it’s going to be damaging to the life of the tube. There’s allegedly a sweet spot of amps driven through the tube that is “most cut power per amp” that is at the top of a bell curve around 60~70% in average Chinese laser.

The glowforge being awesome, may have those settings preset to prolong the life of the tube (and for overall safety) that it is going to output “x” burn power on certain material, and thus go at “y” speed.

The glowforge will have superior optics and focus, so we’ll assume it can do more with the output of its tube than the average Chinese laser.

I have a design I had cut on an 80w redsail. In 3mm acrylic, I could cut it at 90% power, at 18mm /sec.
Then I got my own 60w machine(with a 50w tube) and I wanted to be more careful with the tube so I cut at 70% power(closer to the top of bell curve) and 9 mm/sec. I have made the same cut at 50% power and 22 mm/sec on this machine.
Even though glowforge is a 40w tube, depending on %power being driven it will take less or more speed…

Which brings us back to, you can’t truly compare speeds unless you’re willing to dip into the power changes discussion.


I generally cut 3mm acrylic at 100% power and 6 speed on my 35wt. On my laser, which is not a glass tube, it’s fine to cut at 100%.e


Ahhkay yes, another variable!


Here’s a link to the 2nd project I attempted with an 80w laser. It took about 40-50 minutes to engrave approx 5-7" @ 300 lpi if memory serves. I intend to reproduce this on my :glowforge: and report the difference.

Flammarion Engraving Cutting Board


The Glowforge is many things. Fast is not one of them. And it’s not built for speed. That’s OK… not everything has to be fast.


It’s true. But it will get faster. The maximum speed right now is set very conservatively, and the motors are capable of running more quickly. But doing this without negatively impacting quality has significant ramifications throughout the motion control system, so it will be a while in coming.


After watching laser work this past year, I’ve kind of gotten dialed in to the process of watching and waiting. Of course, it’s like having a baby (I guess??!!). You can just watch it coo for hours. It doesn’t seem like any time passes. There is so much to occupy one’s time.I experience it as fast and the only lengthy print was the heavy engrave.


Agreed, just trying to figure out where it is on the speed spectrum for its wattage so as to manage expectations. It seems like speed should be directly proportional to power applied, but much like Sears horsepower, not all power ratings are comparable so a direct comparison between a GF and a competitor run by an experienced and knowledgeable user is the best sort of data to have. Right now, @marmak3261 or @norman are the only independent GF users that can provide that data. Even then their GF data is probably conservative since GF is still fine-tuning that sort of thing and might do so well after production starts.