Compact Air Filter design suggestion

I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure I’m not alone on this one. I purchased the Glowforge Pro with the compact air filter with the intention of using it on a daily basis and in most cases, all day. I mean the Pro title alone indicates you’re taking this beyond a hobby/enthusiast level. I made this purchase to start a small business. Additionally, I don’t have the option at the moment to vent outside. After just a few weeks of fairly intense use, we have discovered that the air filter is already full. And with the replacement air filters currently out of stock, our small business venture has come to a complete stop. It’s actually a little nauseating considering how much money we have invested in this equipment and materials.

We had to learn a few things the hard way.

  1. We didn’t let the air filter run after the job was done. This should be more clearly communicated in the setup tutorial.
  2. We weren’t aware that some materials clogged the filter faster than others. Again, I know the documentation is there, but this needs to be better communicated.
  3. The air filter cartridge cannot be cleaned or recycled. I find it especially disturbing that the cartridge is not made of a biodegradable or recyclable material. It is not a good feeling knowing my only option is to throw this thing in the trash.

While I am trying to figure out some kind of temporary “homemade” solution for an air filter and realizing how much these frequent filter changes are going to eat into my profit margin, I feel compelled to challenge the Glowforge team to do this air filter thing better.

You’ve managed to engineer a pretty amazing piece of equipment and the design of this air filter leaves a lot to be desired. I have two major requests.

  1. Provide the filter cartridge in layers. Allow us to replace the filter layers independently. Clearly, the top filter which collects the most particles would require changing more frequently. Then the second layer less frequently, and the final layer which captures fumes and gases to be replaced the least frequently. It seems wasteful to lock all these components into a metal box which forces us to replace it all at once.
  2. Make it recyclable. Maybe I don’t understand something because I’m not an engineer but I can’t see why a metal casing is even necessary. Why can’t it be made of a biodegradable material or recyclable plastic?

I’m sorry for the rant, but I’m just feeling really frustrated and I know I’m not the only one.

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Do what others do to extend the life of their filter cartridge, add a pre-filter.

Add 1/2" of carbon filter material to the top of the filter cartridge, and replace the pre-filter layers every 1-2 hours of operating time. Continue to follow the normal use suggestions, running the filter before and after you’re actually cutting, but you’ll be replacing the pre-filter instead of blowing through cartridges. I purchased a couple of sheets of filter material from Amazon and cut it into pieces that fit snugly atop the filter cartridge. I change them out every 1-2 hours and have been using the same filter cartridge daily,
for the past 4 months now.

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considering what the filter may be filling up with, i don’t think there’s a way to make it recyclable.

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Sure, I guess the filters themselves wouldn’t be recyclable. I was referring to the metal housing. Seems unnecessary for it to be metal when it is disposable.

I’ve read posts by several people intent on redesigning the Glowforge filter cartridge using replaceable filter modules, nothing has come to fruition as of yet, but I follow the conversations hoping to see something come about. The way I see it, if almost every other industrial application has reusable or serviceable filter systems, so should Glowforge.

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I’m not trying to be obtuse, just asking. Have you seen any reusable or serviceable filter options for laser cutters? we have a large industrial one at our office that costs nearly $1400 to replace, so it would be great if one existed. i just don’t know that it’s possible to clean/remove the particles that are captured from the smoke/chemical output of burning wood, acrylic, etc. from a filter.

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Something like this certainly makes sense. We should only be replacing the layers of the cartridge that need replacing.

I did read another post where someone was able to open the metal housing and was cleaning the top filter which helped get a little more mileage out of the cartridge. It must have been an older version because there is no getting into the one I have. It is sealed tight.

Has anyone figured out the dimensions of those Flux kits? They’re a similar shape, maybe we can use them.

that’s a fair point. the $1400 filters i referred to above are a set of two-stage filters (although we’re generally replacing them both at the same time).

i wonder if anyone can verify the # of hours flux is claiming (and can verify what kind of materials were used to generate those numbers).

@bjeff.77 Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback! I’ve passed along your suggestions to the product team.

I’ve moved it to the Beyond the Manual so the discussion can continue there.

Does yours not have the rivets holding the filter cartridge together? You can drill out rivets (or get a rivet cutter bit for your drill from Home Depot) and it would open right up.

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I did end up opening it up with a claw hammer. It wasn’t pretty but I figured I was going to be throwing it out anyway. Turns out its just two hepa filters stacked- top one is 2.5 inches and the second one is 1.5 inches. Under that was what looked like granular charcoal. The profit margin on these things must be huge. I’m probably going to sound like a broken record, but hopefully it gets through to someone. This filter should be changeable in layers. The top layer was pretty clogged as expected but the second filter looked fine.

Your issue is going to be one of quality control and safety guarantees. I’m sure glowfirge isn’t too interested in guaranteeing a filter that is possibly compromised, and relying on the end user to know when the charcoal needs replacing is probably not realistic.

I sympathize with you and I think it’s worth exploring; I just think it’s going to be up to enterprising people like you to make it happen with off the shelf materials.