We have been using our Glowforge Pro for a few weeks now. We haven’t exactly got into what I would consider a “production” mode, but I would say we have put about 30 hours or so on the machine. What concerns me is I am starting to notice a buildup of residue on the inside of the lid. This residue is most likely all over the interior too. Nothing what I would consider crazy, it seems to be mostly some minor fogging on the glass. We vent to the outside (we use a dryer vent type setup), and when the GF isn’t in use we secure it from outside air, so nothing can get in. Because of this I feel like I can safely assume it is venting properly.
Is this happening to anyone else? Should I be worried? Do I need to regularly clean the laser lens with special cloth?
The official recommendation is to clean around 40 hours. Some materials are just dirtier to work with so it may need cleaning more often.
You can find cleaning recommendations here:
Many people use a vinegar (distilled, white) and water solution for the glass and general insides and Zeiss wipes for the lenses. While the recommendation is to clean the lenses after 40 hours, I recall Dan saying sometimes it needs to be done more frequently.
I clean my laser windows all the time, after probably 2 hours of cutting baltic ply. I clean the lens less frequently. I cut with just the barest amount of power I need to get through the ply, to avoid flashback. Even a minor haze on the two windows can cause a power drop that is enough to make my cuts unreliable.
I’m probably being a bit too careful now, but it’s working with almost no missed cuts, so I’m going to roll with it.
Now, my tray, tube, and even the glass lid? Filthy.
I clean frequently also. It needs cleaning after a 3 hr engrave on Baltic birch.
Yeah engraves are really bad. I’ve mentioned before how much stamp rubber is a nightmare for cleaning… it is by far the messiest thing I’ve tried.
Check exhaust fan as well…that get super funky ,vacume and some pipe cleaners to get all those nooks and crannies
My observation there is that the pitch of the fan will change. The pipe cleaners with a vacuum hose attachment works pretty well.
I don’t think you should clean the optics any more frequently than necessary. Just like your glasses, or a camera lens, excessive cleaning will degrade the glass. I have a couple of SLA 3D printers (which also use lasers) and cleaning the optics more than absolutely required is a definite no-no. Each time you wipe things down they end up just a little less as good as a result.
Especially if your lasering materials that blow off abrasives, like Tile. The laser doesn’t burn that stuff, it atomizes it. So the optics aren’t hazed by volatile gases, they’re dusty with grit that will scratch the GF’s optics even with the most careful use of Zeiss Wipes.
When performance is negatively affected, clean. Otherwise, IMO it’s best to avoid the OCD impulse to wipe things down just because they’re starting to look a little hazy.
I use a little rocket blower across the surface before wiping to minimize grit. Not perfect but better than nothing. The side window doesn’t seem to really get dirty from what I can see. The window on the side of the head gets dirty pretty quick, on mine at least. The mirror inside the head seems to be good for the longest (since it’s relatively self-contained).
Ultimately, the window and lens are a consumable type item, just like the tube. Replacements are available in the shop.
I received my GF at the end of November. I guess I should probably clean it soon.
I always think it’s funny when I go to clean my 'forge and I look at the camera lens and think “Nice. It’s still good and clear.” And then I rub the Zeiss wipe on it anyway and I kinda go… “Oh… Now it’s clear.”
Unfortunately, the camera is of limited value even when the lens is spotlessly clean. One of those ideas that’s great in concept but not so much in execution.
Guess it just depends on use case. Is it perfectly accurate? No. But I can drag and drop around a cut up board with no problem. But I’m also not as concerned as others about having a 1/4” of uncut material.
Yeah, what @jbmanning5 said. Unless I’m doing a multipart job or I’m on my last sample of a material and need to cut right up to the edge, the camera is fine. It’s just not worth the time to fool with it otherwise. I mean always try to avoid waste, but there’s a break point.
I break down the cost reasoning here:
I myself take steps cleaning my lenses, Just like I do with my camera lenses.
Step 1. Blow lens off with a squeeze ball blower to get loose particles off.
Step 2. Use a high quality lens brush I like a the “Arctic Butterfly” style cleaner to break loose the more stubborn flakes of dust.
Step 3. Back to the blower to get any particles loosened up but not removed from the lens.
Step 4. (When needed) Use a high quality disposable lens cleaner so you don’t reuse a contaminated cloth over. I did buy the Zeiss wipes that glowforge recommends.
Anytime you touch a lens with any cleaning material you risk micro scratches to the lens or it coatings, and chemical cleaners including Zeiss wipes has the potential to deteriorates coating either by stripping off small amounts of the coating or causing them to develop a haze. Either way not good for the lens.
Not cleaning a laser lens can also cause damage over time and makes the laser less effective by absorption or reflection of part of the laser light. So I clean as necessary and 40 hours seems to be a good average between cleanings. Just be very careful when touching the lenses.
Maybe a quick rinse with isopropyl alcohol and then drop it in some DI water in a little ultrasonic cleaner. Repeat until water sheets away.
…everybody has these things, right?
Dunno how my boss would feel(actually I do) about using the ultrasonic washer at the hospital…
So wouldn’t it be nice if the GF had a dashboard with an odometer that told you how many hours of operation it had seen, so you could figure out a regular preventative maintenance schedule?