years ago there was talk about GF creating a double-sided cut software feature. has anyone heard anything about recently?
Nothing new that I know of, but the placement tool makes double sided printing easier if a jig is not in the picture.
This is a feature that really isn’t all that necessary if you know the process:
This one and many other guides give you all the info you need. Once you do it once or twice it’s just not necessary to have some more complicated (presumably slow) software process.
Just look at the usability mess that is the passthrough process. I wouldn’t want to push that on anyone trying to do a double sided job.
This process won’t work for what I’m doing. I’m trying to cut a symmetrical shape out of a piece of wood that’s 1/2" thick. I actually need to cut many of these, so the process needs to be repeatable with multiple pieces of wood. I want to be able cut the material half way through on one side, take it off the bed, flip it over and cut the rest of the way through on the other side. In order for me to make a jig that will work for this purpose, each piece of material would have to be absolutely perfect and exactly the same piece-to-piece, and I’d somehow need to make sure my artwork is centered on this piece perfectly every time.
The placement tool will insure that you print in exactly the same place every time. You will just need to insure that the material is placed in the bed in the same way. The problem as I see it is that you should not expect the Glowforge to cut 1/2" material by cutting 1/4" at a time. A different laser or a different tool would be better in my opinion.
to be honest, the GF is not the right tool to cut 1/2" thick wood. for all the reasons you mentioned.
Pretty much out of the scope of the GF unless it’s something very soft like cedar. I’ve managed to make clean cuts in one pass through 1/2 inch cedar. Having to flip and expecting perfect alignment with different sizes of material will be a headache. If it were me I’d make a template on the GF and use a router.
Won’t work - neither will a CNC. I need sharp internal corners.
Well then the software route won’t either. The best case software-based alignment scenario is accuracy to about half a kerf  which would be disaster for what you’re doing. Even with kerf-corrected jigs you’re not likely to get perfect alignment, not to mention that your GF is almost certainly very slightly out of square which would cause you no end of difficulty.
If it were me, I’d be looking at stacking and gluing layers of 1/8" material with registration pins, you can get pretty accurate that way.
Something like this:
Among many other layered projects on the forum.
Sometimes you have to adjust your design to be more achievable with the laser. This may be one of those times?
I did manage to cut through 1/2" plywood by first engraving a bit over 1/4" deep and then cutting that. The best way however is to make the top and bottom the 1/8 wood and the middle piece in 1/4" or two 1/4" pieces. that way alignment is way easier…