Design moves

I have just bought a Glowforge. Nothing is going right. For example, when I press the button to start a print, the design moves! (I am uploading an Illustrator pdf cutline file, with the design artwork on self adhesive photo paper, stuck onto Medium Birch Plywood. Can anyone offer any advice?

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When you put the material into the GF use the set focus option and make sure the red dot lands on the material. Then place your artwork. If you place your art before making the machine focus on the surface of the material it can cause the movement you are experiencing.
Hope this helps.


Once you put your material in and close the lid you need to use the Set Focus command in the Glowforge GUI. This will adjust the image you see to be appropriate for the thickness of the material you put in. If you know the thickness you can also type it in where it says “unknown material” in the upper left. (I would get digital calipers so you can measure your materials.)

Once the machine knows how thick the material is and updates the picture, you can place your art on the material.

But – the placement is not perfect. If you are trying to drop a cut line on top of a printed piece of art you may not be able to line it up satisfactorily with the camera. The official spec is something like 1/4" accuracy though most people get a lot better than that. Still, it’s not gonna be down to the millimeter.

You can do precisely aligned cuts, you just have to learn some new tricks. If you can post pictures of what you are doing, we can help.


^^^what they said is most likely what’s going on.


Wasting material and having failed projects is so very frustrating!

Since you said you just bought your Glowforge, I wonder if you have worked through the tutorials. It is so helpful to take an afternoon to learn about the various tools on the interface and how the process works from idea to design to production. Also, reading this forum is time well spent. The search function is very powerful, and if you search anything related to alignment you are going to get some very good information.


If you use the :glowforge: Proofgrade materials it already knows their depth, so the Set Focus step is less required (I do it anyway because I’m a belt and suspenders kinda girl).

Also, those tutorials that @dklgood mentioned - definitely go through those! They’re here:

Some of the info may be old to you, but it’s worth going through it all to understand things like the focus depth :slight_smile:


All important things to do. But the best thing before even your first print (or your next) is to run the Calibration routine

Then when you want to place your design first run the Set Focus where you intend to cut, and then move your design to where you want the cut to be. That will likely get your cut at less than a millimeter off of where you intended. You can measure the thickness but even the slightest bit of warp can throw it off a lot while set focus will measure at that specific point. I sometimes use set focus several times when the precision is critical.