CNC Router with Glowforge's Camera Technology

Would Glowforge’s camera technology work on a CNC router? I’m just asking a general technology question, not if a company will implement it or has current plans to. I’d like a CNC down the road a ways but one big weakness with current home CNC routers is the ease of setting 0 for the z plane, and issues with variances in the thickness of the materials being worked on. I could imagine Glowforge’s camera technology overcoming those issues in the future.

Wide Angle Camera — View of the entire laser bed
Macro Camera — Able to view one square inch with resolution of 0.002” (0.05mm)
Camera can record stills and video for documentation and sharing of projects
Optical Thickness Measurement — Optical system measures the height at various points across the material to 0.005” (0.13mm)


I’d love to see the sensing side of the technology applied to other tools down the road. With real-time, high-res sensing of what’s going on in the machine, you could greatly improve the capabilities of darn near any CNC machine!


I’d love to play with the 1.5" focus range to try and make it a CNC machine. But isn’t there another thread about that?

Camera is not precise enough for most CNC applications where you’re trying to get within 0.001" accuracy. A laser cutter only needs to be within a mm or two of the ideal distance to cut and the kerf variance is way beyond even the runout on the worst spindles. CNC typically uses mechanical touch probes that are very precise, and you can measure at various points to generate a Z-offset matrix.

I had been thinking the same thing as well… it would seem that with a good enough sensor you should be able to very accurately postion a piece of media for a CNC machine. Do we know if Glowforge patented this idea, or if anyone else ever has? I would hate to run afowl of a patent on something like this.

I know of a drag knife cutting table that offers a camera system.

As far as accuracy, a camera would be accurate enough for a router, but not a mill. But with a mill, you are holding much tighter tolerances.

Wouldn’t there be a significant abount of vibration occuring around a cnc mill head? And a lot more propensity of particles flying that could damage the camara?

My first thought was a cnc mill i last used for getting some aluminum formed. Shavings went all over, and though the arm was heavy so that vibrations wouldn’t make much difference in accuracy, to something as sensitive as an optical lense, it should cause some blurring.