Camera Alignment Issues

Hey there! I was so thrilled yesterday when my glowforge finally arrived! I’ve been loving it so far and look forward to using it daily…
That said, I have noticed that I’m having some pretty significant issues with the camera alignment. It’s a problem that’s bad enough that I can’t use the machine how I was hoping to (engraving on existing stuff). I have scoured the forum for recent posts about this issue but the latest ones I’ve found have been from Dec. '17 so I wondered if anyone else is having this issue still? I’ve sent an email to support but not heard back. I never received my proofgrade materials so I really don’t have a way to test the accuracy using them (that would be helpful for sure!). This is a screen shot of my last ‘test’ cut. As you can see, it’s WAY off, more than the 1/4".

I tried rebooting (as described in another post, I held the button down until it turned blue, about 15 seconds, then turned it off for several minutes). I’ve also tried turning off my lights and even covering the window as I read in another post might be effecting the camera. I’m at a loss!

My first, out of the box print (the ruler on acrylic that I already had on hand) was spot on. I was very impressed with the accuracy and super hopeful! Then its been downhill from there. Any advice would be great!

Have you entered the actual measured thickness of the material in inches (using calipers) into the Unknown materials button in the upper lefthand corner?

If you didn’t, that can throw the alignment off significantly. It has to be entered for any non-Proofgrade material.

Yes, I definitely did that :slight_smile: and I’m willing to accept that using a non proofgrade material will create some discrepancy. I just measured it and it shows that it’s 1/2" off in the lower left corner and just over 1/4" in the other boxes.

You also need to make sure the material is perfectly flat. Most people use either magnets or something like these pins to hold down the material.

Cardboard is hard to get good alignment on…it tends to bow up in places.

I totally get that, and yes I tried to make sure it was as flat as I could so I understand there is some variation there. But, I’m writing this after having tried it on my leather which is very flat and quite accurate in thickness when I entered it in. When I kept getting an etch that was way off from what I expected I decided to try my test out on cardboard instead of using my leather up. I’ve been using another laser for a while and never had this issue because I was able to align the head manually and even make a test dot where the laser was going to start.

Is there a chance that at some point between getting it set up and your first print that you moved the head a bit manually?

Give it a quick reboot (which will recalibrate the machine) and see what you end up with.

Are you entering the material height based off of a caliper measurement? Or something else?

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They will likely have you check the crumb tray is seated correctly, the lid is completely closed, and print the Gift of Good Measure on the draftboard (along with recording the date and time) so they can review the results.

Here is the link to the Troubleshooting Page:

https://glowforge.com/support/topic/troubleshooting/alignment

If you do those things now, it might speed things up. Other than that i can’t think of anything else for you to try. :neutral_face:

I wouldn’t rule anything out! I can’t imagine that I moved it but I could’ve I suppose. I’ve rebooted it and I’ve also made sure it starts out in the back left corner. I don’t have calipers so I’m sure my measuring by my ruler is a bit off but it’s pretty close. I can’t imagine that it would be this far off?!

Thank you so much! I appreciate your help! I’ll give that a try and see if theres anything new. I was really hoping that others might be having this issue too and it might be an easy fix…still hoping I guess!

You might be surprised. Although I’m not sure how much of a difference each, like, 1/100 of an inch would make in the accuracy of the placement. Ive noticed quite a difference when ive switched materials but forgotten to change the settings. But that was very thin wood sheets, so the difference might have been magnified.

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Oh yes. Just recently I accidentally entered 0.1 inches when the actual height was 0.01 inch. I was shocked how far off the alignment ended up—slightly more than 1/4” where I was expecting about 1/16”. You really should invest in a set of calipers. You can get them fairly reasonably and often on sale, and it’s probably the tool you’ll use the most.

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image

The thickness is imperative for getting the camera view as accurate as possible. This is the difference that, if I remember correctly, 1/32nd of an inch can make.

I think with the current software you can still see up to a 1/4” error between the job location and the camera view.

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That’s good advice. I was kind of thinking I’d just check my materials against the proofgrade stuff but since I never got those in the mail (where are they??!) I’m kind of shooting from the hip. Calipers will be on my next grocery list :slight_smile:

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Wow! Super helpful, thanks. That actually gives me peace of mind to know maybe my accuracy is the problem.
That said, I’m trying to figure out how I’ll be engraving things on items that are preassembled. I guess it’ll just take lots of practice and hope? Even 1/4" is a pretty big offset if you’re wanting to place text on the bottom edge of something etc.

If you do a search of the forums, a few people share their techniques for getting perfect alignment. It seems to work well for them! Much better than hoping :blush:

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You can pick up some digital calipers for $10-15 on Amazon (or at Harbor Freight). Or if you’re lucky even less. I got mine for $6 on Amazon thanks to a coupon code.

The cheap Chinese ones are more then accurate enough for measuring materials thickness. You’ll probably find lots of other uses for them too. (I know I have!)

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Yes. @tim1724 is absolutely correct. If there is a Harbor freight nearby it’s worth a drive. (They also have those interlocking EVA foam tiles as well.)

The 4 inch stainless ones are nice enough, they are heavy though. I have used the composite ones they have in the past, they are much lighter, but are not as accurate as the stainless models.

Amazon has them as well.

Unless you really need high repeatability and precision, and can’t suffer some minor fit an finish details, you really don’t need to spend much money here.

I hate so sound all Glowforgey party line, but check with some proofgrade draftboard in there. Find something small to print in a corner and test.

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One of the easiest ways to ensure good alignment is to incorporate a jig cut or score in your project.

For example, if you want to engrave a logo on a cutting board.

First make a mockup of the cutting board in your vector art program. Place your logo on the mock up in the exact place you want to etch the logo. Make sure the mockup and the logo are different colors. This will allow you to toggle them on and off for later steps.

Second place a piece of paper on the crumb tray and secure it with magnets or masking tape.

Load up your .svg of the mockup and the logo into the GFUI. Set the logo to ignore and the mockup to manual cut 1% power, 500 speed, and focus .010". When you hit print the laser will draw/burn your mockup on the paper.

Without moving the paper, open the GF and place the cutting board directly inline with the mockup on the paper.

Go back to the GFUI. Without moving any of the objects set the mockup to ignore and the logo to your desired engrave settings (don’t forget to change your focus distance). When you hit print the laser will engrave the logo exactly where you want it.

I’ve personally used this technique to make board game minatures with front and back engravings. It works very well.

I find ikea mala drawing paper works well for this technique. It’s inexpensive and is wide enough to cover the entire cut zone of the laser. You can get about 58 jigs out of a single roll.

When I first got my GF I had similar questions about alignment. Everyone one very helpful. I did some experiments trying to map the error you can look at the thread here:

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This is exactly what I needed! Thank you!! I need to read it again to really understand. But it makes sense to use some sort of jig in coordination with the camera. I know this system will be great once I get the hang of it, (much better than the crazy system I went through to cut anything out on the chinese laser I was using) but for now it’s just a learning curve. I feel like its like driving an automatic car after driving a stick shift all my life… Do you know if there are any youtube videos out there with someone explaining this? I’m a visual person…:stuck_out_tongue:

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huh?