Camera Rant, Future Mods/Upgrades

I’m happy overall with the support this machine has received, specifically from Glowforge themselves. I’ve been meaning to do a long winded write up about my experiences and set up. But this week has been been irritating, for all the amazing things this machine can do the one thing that really burns a hole in profits/time is the damn fish-eye on the camera. I mean I really really hate how much effort it takes to correctly line up one ( usually multiple pieces ) for an order on a piece of inventory for a custom order and to have it not centered as shown in the preview.

I’ve gone through the GF App phase where you have to learn what files it will like and in what format to get the kind of etching/cutting you want. But when I’m working with pre-cut stock like slate that I need to get centered just right it is such a pain. Mainly the fish-eye on the camera is just terrible, secondly all of the pre-print renders always end up nudging your initial design around, only to have to finally correct your design at the 3rd and final stage after clicking “print”. It’s terrible. If there’s any upgrade that could ever be done to this machine it would be a new focusing/camera grid that would take a better snap shot and align my design better. I would happily buy it to avoid continued loss of stock on very small pieces. I personally would never trust the alignment on this machine to etch my own laptop, much less something more expensive or risky like someone else’s personal property, its just and entire segment of the market I’ll be missing out on.

Extra step I know… but tape a piece of paper to your slate (in this example) and run the design at 2 or 3 power. Just enough to mark the paper but not go through it. Then you can adjust the design in the UI, remove the paper, and burn it exactly where you need it.

It doesn’t save time for sure, but it definitely would save material.

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I think you are making some basic mistakes. If you have already run the camera calibration then you should be able to place your art exactly where you want it, BUT you must have the laser focus set to your work piece(s) elevation before you center your artwork. If you’ve already clicked print on your computer and then expect to reposition your artwork you’re doing it wrong and you won’t get the results you expect.
Hope this helps.

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Since running the lid camera calibration program, the improvement of the set focus tool and the inclusion of the positioning tool I have been able to align things visually without issue.

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Camera calibration

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What you’re seeing with the “nudging” is the camera doing a last second check on the thickness of your material. What’s likely happening, is that the laser beam is hitting off the edge of your work. There are a few ways to fix this.

  1. Build a jig for your work - literally just cut holes in a piece of material that’s the same depth as your slate that the slates fit into (doesn’t have to be tight, just fitted). That way if the laser misses it’ll hit the jig but as it’s at the same height it won’t matter.

  2. When you click set focus it adjusts the fisheye for that spot which means if you’re running multiples you should set focus on the first, then move that piece of art, then set focus on the second and move that piece of art (ignoring how the first piece of art now looks).

  3. Once you’ve set your stuff using set focus, don’t look at the renders. Just don’t. Especially don’t “fix” anything because of what you see in the renders.

Using the above (presuming you’ve done the camera calibration) your focus will be within millimetres. I haven’t “wasted” a piece of stock in over a year.

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Running the lid camera calibration and ALWAYS using set focus prior to placing the artwork has made my placement within sub millimeter. Before the calibration was developed when I engraved things like slate coasters I always used a jig with made alignment perfect.

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i will second what others have said. i have eliminated most of the offset issues by:

  • using set focus on specific points
  • making jigs for repetitive pieces
  • creating a score outline at 1-2 power on top of masking when i’m extra paranoid.
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when it comes to etching on just about anything, I never trust the camera.
1 take measurements of the item
2 in the GF app reproduce the item using “Insert shape”
3 place a piece of paper in the GF and Score the shape (500 - 7)
4 in GF app create your artwork and make sure it stays within the shape
5 set the shape to “Ignore”
6 set artwork to appropriate setting
5 place your item exactly on the scored shape
6 set focus and print (notice we never used the camera)
while the camera is great and I use it when cutting, when it comes to working on items that have to be exact. this method has never let me down.

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I always place my material as directly below the camera as possible, then go to maximum zoom (1000%) and select focus point. After those steps I then size and compose my artwork. I never have an alignment issue.

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FWIW, that doesn’t change the actual accuracy of where set focus goes to scan the material.

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a) camera calibration
b) jigs

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Its still off about a 1/4" from where I select but it helps me aim a little closer

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I’m sorry that you’ve run into trouble when trying to align your prints. It looks like you’ve already received some great general tips and information from our other community members. Thanks folks!

I took a look into the specific example shown in your photo and then located and extracted the logs from the prints. Before a print starts, the print head in your Glowforge shines a red dot on the material to measure the material height. This measurement is used to focus the lens in the print head and also impacts print alignment.

When I extracted the focus attempts from the prints on the material shown in your example photo, it looks like the rough, dark surface may be preventing you Glowforge from taking an accurate reading of the material height. As a next step, I recommend masking a small area of your material which is outside of where your artwork will engrave with something like a piece of light colored masking tape. Then, use the Set Focus feature before placing your artwork.

The Set Focus target allows you to select an area to take a precision measurement of the material’s height using the red dot in the printer head. Use Set Focus and place the focus area on the masked portion of your material, so it’s not near an edge. Then watch to make sure the entire red dot hits the masked area. After Set Focus runs, your bed image may shift slightly as the preview is updated, so I recommend arranging your artwork once Set Focus is complete.

One last thing to note is that if you open the lid before starting your print, Set Focus will be reset and it will need to be run again. Please let us know if this information helps improve the results you’re getting on your project!

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I use a lot of jigs.

@erick407a I cut the outline out in cardboard, then just drop my materials in there without moving the design or the cardboard. Works perfectly each time, then I don’t have to worry about the camera. It’s much easier than trying to line something up perfectly when I’m working with precut items.

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One trick to hold cardboard for jigs - you can just push holdown pins right thru it into the bed.

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Thats right. The pins on the forum were one of the first things I printed. They’ve been completely invaluable.

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies on this thread so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email support@glowforge.com.