Benchmarks: Comparing Glowforge print times to other machines

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.


3D printing is much the same way - it gets mesmerizing to watch the filament get laid down little by little, at least for me.


Drives my wife nuts - I’ll disappear for hours and she’s wondering what’s going on. I’m playing with designs, watching the machine, tweaking things. Giant time suck :smile:

(That’s why I keep track of how long things take - I always underestimate them and they always take longer than I think they should so it would just set bad expectations for when I’ll be done.)


Those of us old enough to have used darkrooms experienced the same thing. A minute and a half here, a minute and a half there, and suddenly it’s six hours later.


Just think, once your Glowforge is “in the house”, she might be the disappearing act.


So far she’s got no interest in the laser in the garage. I wouldn’t put her through the trials of that process either :slight_smile: But the GF might be something she’ll decide she wants to learn to use. She does like some of the things I can do with the laser but right now thinks it’s too hard for her. She’s Dan’s use case.


The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to chronological or sequential time, while kairos signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.

Anytime you get “lost in the moment” you’ve slipped from chronos to kairos. My wife is in kairos whenever she is painting or quilting, as am I when making or flying.

Described nicely in Star Trek: Insurrection…

Anij: Have you ever experienced, a perfect moment in time?
Captain Picard: A perfect moment?
Anij: When time seemed to stop, and you could almost live, in that moment.
Captain Picard: Seeing my home planet from space, for the first time.
Anij: Yes. Exactly. Nothing more complicated than perception.
Anij: …We’ve discovered that a single moment in time can be a universe in itself, full of powerful forces. Most people aren’t aware enough of the now to even notice.


That gives me an idea to find someone who hasn’t done anything like this before. Sit them down at the computer or give them the iPad (it does work well!) and have them make something without instructions.

I do believe the Glowforge, like Silhouettes and Cricuts, can be the gateway to higher computer literacy, where the computer assists to solve problems and is a tool rather than just another media device or fancy typewriter.

Learning design software is an important leg up on things, but just using hand drawings will be enough for a lot of people.


That is how I would identify my wife as. Once Glowie :glowforge: has arrived, my wife will be getting exposed to its use and personalized attention from me on whatever she wants to do with it.


What do you base this statement on? The Pro models description begins:
Our Pro model is designed for frequent, shared use, like a makerspace.

Something cannot be designed for shared frequent use if it is slow.

This really concerns me.:confused:

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It’s based on any video from fairs or pre-release customers uploaded so far. The big killer is engraving - expect it take probably an hour to do anything bigger than a couple of inches (the Tested video suggested it took approx 40 minutes to do its scan and trace and engrave on the sketch). Vector cutting is probably reasonable unless you’re doing something pretty intricate.


I wouldn’t be worried about it for a Makerspace. The trouble with words like “fast” or “slow” is they’re relative.

Any laser is screamingly, mindblowingly faster than asking the same cuts & engraves by hand (at the same levels of precision). Any 40W CO2 laser is agonizingly slow compared to a 130W or 1KW laser. Speed costs money - more piles of it than most of us likely have.

So what.

The GF is at least as fast as any other alternative similarly sized laser you can get. Decrease resolution and it’s faster. Increase resolution and it’s slower. Increase power and it’s faster. Decrease power and it’s slower. Faster/slower than what? Than itself or a similar laser with similar resolution and power. It’s physics. Last time I checked that was the law :slight_smile:


So pretty much all Brands&models with the same Tube type will perform similarly and the only practical way to increase is move up in Tube?
However say a Model has insufficient cooling, then it would overheat quicker thus creating downtime?

Voccell DLS 60W
engraving speed 400mm/s,
Max. cutting speed 800mm/s
Duty cycle Unlimited @ Full Power

Full Spectrum H
engraving speed 300mm/s,
Duty Cycle @ 72 F Ambient = Est. 15 Minutes @ 90%

storm 5030 (35w lasertube )
engraving speed 0 to 60,000mm/min

Liaocheng Xianming
Max engraving Speed 1000mm/s
Max cutting speed 600mm/s

Redsail 50W
Max. cutting speed 200mm/s

Max moving speed: 500mm/s