Dead laser?

I got my glowforge march of 2018
I have not used it much but this week began to use it with some fairly big aspirations.

The laser just quit in the middle of a cut today. It is definitely not lasing anymore.
Everything else works fine and it goes through all the motions.

I’m sure they will ask me to print the ruler thingy on a draft board, but I’ve already tried that. It just finishes with a blank, pristine draft board. The laser is dead.

What to do? I am certain I’m out of warranty, but I’m not sure I can afford to repair. It is so sad since I was going to use it to actually make much needed funds for family.

Laser tubes have a shelf life whether used or not. The GF tube is expected to last two years, many are getting more from them, but if you have had your machine for three years, it’s not unreasonable for it to have expired.

Fortunately, GF has a fantastic tube replacement plan - they are losing money on shipping alone, but it’s great for the customer.

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I do appreciate your reply. I do hope I can get it repaired and that they do help with the process and cost. I wonder how long I have to wait for a reply from Glowforge and how long the turn around process will be.

You should have them check your machine’s logs. It could just as easily be a bum power supply which may be a pricey repair.

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For either tube or PS, it will have to go back to the mothership for repair. I would plan on minimum 3 weeks for that — one week shipping, one week repair, and a week back to you. They might still be offering refurb machines in place of repair. Basically, you pay the estimated repair cost of your machine for a refurbished unit. I’m not sure of the turn around on that — only GF will be able to give you an estimate.

If they do suspect it’s the power supply and not the tube, and they decide to repair the machine, it’s a bit of a conundrum with the age of your current tube. A proactive tube replacement while it’s there would seem to make sense if you wanted to reduce the chance of future downtime, but obviously more money…

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I worked with ion lasers for 20 years. I’m not sure about CO2, but laser tube life is based on hours (and how hard they are driven) not on years. I’ve seen lasers that were on a shelf for 10+ years work like new. I just read that this is basically true about quality built CO2 tubes. Not sure if glowforge has that. This tube has next to no hours on it. I estimate maybe 3-4 hours tops. So it may be a power supply. The cuts were very consistent up to the point power went to zero. That either means the tube went up to air, or the power supply is dead. I’m guessing it’s the power supply. Which would be a ridiculously easy at home replacement. I just find it so frustrating that I can build a laser from the ground up, align it and service it, but can’t repair my own glowforge. Even the tube should be fairly easy since you don’t have to align it for lasing, just for aiming. The problem is you need to be able to pulse the laser to do the aligning. CO2 lasers are scary when they can access your eyes. or skin for that matter.

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It would seem that if the power supply was bad not only the laser would be iffy. The probability of a bad laser seems also slim. Those places that power the laser but not those parts that are working would be the first place to look. Secondarily there is the possibility that the laser energy is stopped somewhere by a bad window etc. but then you should see fire in the laser tube itself. As closeup as you can photos of all the relevant places would help as well.

I hesitate to suggest this because you sound like you are very knowledgeable about lasers. But I know I have missed the obvious on occasion myself. Is there any possibility the power was accidentally set to zero? That would show up pretty much the same way.

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No ionization is visible in the laser tube, that means tube to air, or no power from power supply. I do suspect the PS as these high voltage supplies can have issues. It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t run it harder before my warranty ran out. I’ll just have to eat the cost.

I do appreciate all that have replied. I don’t feel so alone in my sorrow.

Good thought. I did check it. Failed the happy ruler test using draftboard from GF. I don’t think you can change the power level on a proofgrade coded material. Plus the cut line just stopped and the machine kept going like nothing was wrong. I think it’s wierd the that GF doesn’t check to see that there is actually a laser beam present. Just an IR sensor would indicate that.

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Hi,

I have problems with my Glowforge 2018 too : Repair or not repair? Europe dilemna

I have open a ticket with the support. They have proposed me an exchange with a refurbished glowforge even if the warranty is over. The main problem for me is that I’m not in the USA and the major cost of the operation is shipping cost+customs duties and it costs and arm and a leg.

But I think whatever the problem on your machine, I would advise you to open a ticket and see what they said and proposed you as solution. Maybe you willhave a good surprise or at least you will know what are your options.

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Not necessarily. There are two sides to it - the laser is feeding off the high voltage pulsed supply side. There’s a separate set of circuitry for the standard low voltage (12/24VDC in typical machines, or maybe even 120VAC - I don’t recall which GF uses for the lights, fans, camera, etc)

It’s usually the high voltage side that goes out on these.

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I did exactly this.

Dead power supply. Tube replaced while it was there. 3.5 weeks of downtime.

It’s all fine in the end but prepare yourself for a frustrating level of communication and also the fact that they will not tell you exactly what’s being repaired. There’s no such thing as an itemized receipt for GF repairs. They’ll quote you a flat fee and you say yes or no.

Don’t shoot the messenger, that’s how they do it and no amount of being right about how that’s really breathtakingly dumb will change it.

My suggestion is to start the process ASAP (just email support, not a PS ticket; it’ll just get all the crazies on the forum riled up) and try to be zen about it. Getting pissed at them is like trying to keep the tide from wrecking your sand castle, the ocean doesn’t care and isn’t going to change.

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Summarized perfectly. :slight_smile:

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If you look into CO2 lasers you will find that a quality tube should last for 2000-3000 hours of actual lasing time. Mine didn’t get even close to that with less than 10 hours.
In any case, I will be getting it repaired. Not thrilled, but it is what it is.

Thank you for the messages. It was greatly appreciated.

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Update:
I was able to check the tube. It is good. So the problem is definitely the power supply
You might ask how does one check if a laser tube is still intact?
You actually put a high voltage source near the glass envelope and see if the gasses inside glow.
When I was working in manufacture, we had a handheld tesla coil that worked great. I don’t have that, but what I used was one of those plasma glow toys.

Just touching the glass to glass caused the gasses inside the tube to glow. It won’t do that if the tube is broken.
Anyway. Deciding whether to send it in or try to repair the power supply myself. Could be something as simple as a bad cap or a fuse.

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Very clever. Wishing you luck it is something simple. :grin:

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Hey that’s good info to have on the back burner. Good luck and keep us all up to date.

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Now THAT is an awesome little bit of information, thank you for sharing it.

Since you do have a lot of experience, you might find the documentation from the Open Glow project useful. Although it has been ended, thankfully it was hosted on Github and there are lots of copies floating around. The folders are a bit of a mess since the project killed the website pages that organized everything well, but you might find it useful!

3CatMax/GF-Hardware: Repository for knowledge learned about the hardware and firmware for Glowforge’s Basic and Pro model CNC lasers. (github.com)

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The fact that it was printing fine and failed instantaneously said it was almost certainly a power supply. The tube doesn’t just die unless it’s physically defective (like a crack), it slowly degrades, losing power until it doesn’t produce enough to do any work anymore. But silicon generally either works or it doesn’t.

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