Can anyone recommend a replacement for the Glowforge?

I am really getting tired of dealing with adverts and logging on to a site just to do cuts. I really don’t think other cutters need to connect to a cloud to be able to get a cutting solution when all I use is SVG. Even if it would take away the one good feature I do like with seeing the SVG over the material. Its not repeatable so I have already designed a jig for placement. where I haven’t been using the positioning feature.

If I would have known how much this company is like Apple with its closed minded approach to the user interface and squeezing every dime out of people by using “proof grade” rather then sensors to detect heights of material.

Every time I have to click hide on the community posts it makes me furious I spent so much money on something that makes me feel crappy every time I use it.

I would spend 50 - 100 a month just to have an API that would take an SVG and cut it without any other features.


Welcome to the forum.

This may not be the place to find recommendations for other machines since we are all current Glowforge owners. I am sure you can research your next purchase and having owned a Glowforge, you will be more meticulous in your investigation of the process used and the software required to use the item. The Glowforge is a great first machine and now you know what is important to you in using a laser so you will make a better decision.


If you want a workhorse that doesn’t do much except take a vector illustration and some settings and print it: Epilog, Trotec and ULS are your brands.

There are a bunch of Glowforge clones on the market right now, but having owned one and used several of them, you may find that the grass isn’t always greener… xTool P2, GweikeCloud, OMTech Polar, FSL Muse, Thunder Bolt.

Glowforge uses sensors to detect material height. It does so literally every time you hit print, if you haven’t already told it to do so manually using the “set focus” button. They do not push or require you to use Proofgrade ever. Glowforge’s autofocus sensor is much more accurate than the one in my other laser, too.


Hi @taylorfication - Thanks for posting in the forum and appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I understand your frustration and I have been passing along all of the feedback from the Glowforge community to the Product Team about the chat feature. We definitely don’t want you to feel crappy every time you use your Glowforge and want to make sure you have a positive experience.

If you ever have any additional concerns or suggestions, please feel free to at mention me. Thank you!


Welcome to the forum. I rarely ever use PG materials and my GF works wonderfully. If you will spend a little time in the archives or reading current posts, most of the things you find aggravating are discussed and explained frequently.

I’m not crazy about anything being cloud based, but that is the nature of things nowadays, much of the software and apps are moving to cloud subscriptions. I’m not sure what you are seeing in the way of advertisements but I have never seen one.

The optical feature of seeing where your “lasering” will take place on the material is a quick reference guide, you have already discovered the most reliable way to achieve repeatability is through the use of the jigs (I posted a topic about non-jig alignment and repeatability some time ago that works wonderfully).
The chat feature is rather new and many of us just ignore it, honestly I don’t even notice it anymore.

Plus, I love Apple (and my GF) and their OS’s (and I spent 30+ years in IT work). The tight reign they have on their respective OS and GUI keeps hackers and idiots from pooping in the sandbox. I don’t like cleaning up after digital vandals have expressed their electronic manhood. Been there, done that!

I’m sorry you are frustrated with you gf experience, but I encourage you to spend some time reading the archives and getting to know the regulars on the forum. There is more knowledge and experience in the “forum collective” than you can imagine and it’s all at your fingertips.

Feel free to reach out to one of us if you have a question, we will either answer it or help point you in the right direction… and just maybe you can save money on a replacement when you have a little more understanding about the GF.


The Glowforge model allows you to design your projects in your favorite graphic vector app, free or paid (ie Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Affinity, etc) and connects to the cloud when you print using any browser from any platform (desktop, laptop, smartphone, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari, etc.). This allows for platform independent use, and any software updates, which have been many throughout the years, are made in the cloud and inmediately available on all users independent of the platform each uses.

This differs from the traditional model in which you run proprietary software on your pc or laptop and connect to the laser cutter via USB using a driver much like a traditional printer. Said proprietary software or print driver may not be available for some platforms like Mac or smartphones.

Having a closed ecosystem is just a different model that takes getting used to and has advantages and drawbacks.

If you follow the calibration procedure for your machine, positioning becomes very accurate and repeatable. Have you done this:

Camera Calibration

You do not have to use only proofgrade material in your glowforge, you may use any material as long as it is safe (without PVC) and fits in the bed. I live outside de US and for years have used local materials (mdf, plywood, acrylic, paper, cardboard, glass, obsidian, metal, etc.) without any problem.

This I agree that is a PIB and a LOT of users have complained. I understand that there is a request to keep this off, once you turn it off. Like you, I hope they implement it soon.


I’m so genuinely puzzled by this. You don’t have to use proof grade materials AND every print literally includes a auto focus or set focus operation to determine material height. Why have you linked these two unrelated thoughts together?


A solution for this was provided here months ago :slight_smile: One less thing to worry about:


This is false-to-fact. The red-dot laser in the head measures the height of materials before every cut and makes the appropriate focus adjustment. As others have stated, you do not have to use PG materials.


Sorry to hear you are so frustrated. I’m sure every one of us had some frustrations over the years but usually due to operator error. Yes the chat feature is annoying but can be closed out of the way. You do not need to only use proof grade material. Connecting to the cloud to do a job doesn’t take any longer than setting up your work on another machine. If anything it’s a better system because any updates or new features are seamlessly added without you having to do anything.


Hmm, business opportunity…



Sorry you feel like your having a
crappy experience. I know how it feels to be frustrated.

Hope you come back to read all these helpful replies above. There are some great solutions to some of your pain points.

One of the strongest parts of this laser is what you see above. If your having problems or pain points you will find this wonderful community willing and ready to help. That’s worth so much.


I wonder if anyone with the proper skill set would be interested in contracting to use something like Tampermonkey to hide some of the things they don’t want to see.


My 4th machine just broke on me. I’m done, looking for an alternative now too.


because I was frustrated and upset when I wrote this message and was not thinking clearly.

It’s like buying a new car and then being told you cant drive it anywhere you want. you need to send the destination and stops to the manufacturers website (must be connected) and then you have to wait for their route (which you can get faster if you pay more) . I understand the subscription based model of software delivery and it’s pros and cons. I have no frustrations with my cuts only with the software and company push of upselling, and limitation of features for a constant flow of capital beyond the initial purchase of the machine.


I have Premium - and this is marketing speak. Maybe if you have a 4 hour cut it’ll take 45 seconds instead of 1 minute to plot - but in the hundreds of designs I’ve cut I haven’t noticed anything more than maybe a second or two “faster processing”.


This is what a lot of people get wrong, though. You bought a machine. The company promised that it would do a thing. Your machine still does all of the things they said it would. Then they come out with new things for the machine to do, but sell them separately. If you choose not to buy the deluxe package, that is fine, but your machine still does everything (and more) that was agreed to. When they introduced faster speeds for Premium, it isn’t like they slowed your speeds down. They just didn’t give you access to the NEW servers that are faster, but that also cost THEM more money to have. But you want them for free.

To use your car analogy, what you are asking is to buy a Ford F150. Now there are several versions of the F150. There is the Base model (Basic), the LT model (Plus) and the XLT model (Pro). They also have the Lariat and Platinum editions available at an added cost (Premium services). For you to complain about it is like saying you want the Platinum edition Ford for the same price as the XLT.

As to the online/offline argument. It has already been pointed out that there are plusses and minuses to either option. Offline, you don’t always have the latest software. You have to manually update every patch. If you switch from PC to Mac, your software doesn’t work anymore. Etc. All of those problems are eliminated because it is a web based application. Granted, the downsides of online are not great either. You have to be connected. If you can’t maintain a constant connection, you have to reconnect every time. etc.


Like others have said, it’s really not an issue. If your wifi connection is solid things work flawlessly.


All I know is I just have the Basic and have never had an issue with it (other than needing to clean the fan once a year when it gets clogged up). I have Premium mainly so I can get the Premium designs for free, which is a tremendous benefit to me since I am not creative and am retired on a very fixed income, so I can’t afford to buy designs as much as I would like, and the GF catalog has a tremendous selection. As far as having to be connected to the internet, I don’t have a problem with that at all, as even my computer works off wi-fi, and since we use Verizon internet, it is always on and has been the most reliable (and cheapest) internet we’ve ever had. I love the fact that when Glowforge does system upgrades, most are done “behind the scenes” and we are told about the upgrades, and the next time I turn my machine on it’s already been done for me.

As far as paying for a monthly subscription, almost every application is now charging monthly subscription prices, including Microsoft Office. So it’s not just Glowforge - it’s everyone. Think of all the tv channels that are now charging for monthly subscriptions, from Hulu to NFL to Prime, etc. And with those, all I can do is watch and still have to filter out what I don’t want. At least with Glowforge, I get to make both fun and useful items for my home and for others. Totally worth it to me.