Drifting HD engraves?

I’ve noticed that some of my engrave steps lately seem a little to the left, within the larger design they are a part of. I’ve only noticed it with steps using the HD Engrave setting. Sometimes the drift varies, but I’ve had designs where I re-export and recreate the job to see the same effect. Whereas engrave steps I manually create settings for, and score lines and cuts are all spot on.

I make lots of little wheels, and it’s most evident when making a small car tire. The hub/rim is engraved in the center of a circle, and then the circle is cut out (order of steps is critical here, of course). But the center will be ever so slightly closer to one edge than another.

Some pictures to demonstrate.
These are 0.475 in width.
The top two tires here show the center very slightly off, they are just a little bulge-y on the right side.
The bottom tire is well centered. I could have sworn all of these were set to standard HD engrave, so the chunkiness on the bottom tire is odd, but I’m not going to claim it was HD without being 100% sure.

I admit it’s very subtle, I’ve just made so many of these I’ve noticed the recent difference in output.

I’ve verified the wheel engrave is centered in the cut out circle in the design file.

I’ve measured around the wheels with calipers, and they are circular to within 0.004 inches, so it doesn’t appear the shape is off. Also, I have noticed other HD details (on other designs) that drift a little, usually slightly to the left (viewing from the front of the unit).

I tried exporting the cut circle (from Inkscape) as a circle object and as a path, but that did not make any difference.

This may be within the tolerance of the machine, but it’s become distinctly more noticeable of late, which makes me wonder if it’s a sign of a mechanical issue.

My response has been to try and make more wheels and choose the best looking ones. As I said above, my own custom engrave steps don’t seem to suffer (very odd, I’m not aware the standard settings are handled any different), so obviously I need to just make my use my own settings and see if I get better results.

I was wondering if anyone else has seen this sort of behavior, moreso recently?
EDIT: I’ve included the svg of the pictured wheel just above this line, but even blown up it is teeny tiny, sorry if it makes a hard target for a mouse click.

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I’m going to be honest with you, I can’t see a thing wrong with those wheels. :smile:

But, over time, it’s certainly possible for the X-axis belt to loosen a little with wear, and that might have something to do with what you are seeing.

What you have to decide is when you find it enough of a disruption to tackle removing the belt and tightening it, because the odds are, it’s going to be harder to get it back to original condition than not, and it might introduce more error if you don’t get it right.

Maybe just clean the belt and pulleys thoroughly (as in…unplug the machine, reach underneath with a Q-tip dipped in a 50/50 vinegar water solution and wrung out well until just moist, then give the entire length of the belt under the gantry a good wipe. Inside and out. Move the head and clean at the pulleys too. Then LET IT DRY for several hours before trying to run the machine again. Or hit it with a blow dryer.)

While you’re at it, wipe the track front and back that the wheels roll over. Buildup of resin and gunk on the tracks can cause sticking.

Take your time and see if that improves it…that’s not really enough variance for me to see, but I’ll take your word for it.


I’m so sorry to hear that the alignment is off when you are printing HD engraves.

@jules Has given some great next steps for cleaning.

It looks like your Glowforge is performing to specifications. If you’d like, you can use the Camera Recalibrator to see if further improvement is possible. It will only make changes if it can make your camera more accurate; otherwise, it will exit without any changes. It takes about half an hour.

You’ll need a 12” x 20” piece of Proofgrade material with no markings or stickers. The feature was designed to be used with a flat piece of medium Proofgrade Draftboard, used upside-down (with the QR code side down). It may work with other materials that are the same size and use the same print settings as well, like Proofgrade plywood.

It prints a grid of markings, takes a picture, then measures its height in multiple locations. This data is used to make your camera more accurate for future prints.

To get started, click on this link: Launch the Camera Recalibrator

Another option that may help with alignment is using set focus. please see the following link on how to use it on a print. Alignment – Glowforge


I found the effect extremely hard to capture in a photograph. I can spot it with my eye though.

I wouldn’t know the first thing about tightening the belt, I doubt I could ever get it right.

I’ll try your cleaning suggestions though. I’ve never cleaned anything on the gantry, just done the occasional lens/mirror cleanings, so it might be a good time.

Thanks for the ideas.

Thanks for the feedback.

The camera is working pretty well actually. It does display the misalignment issues away from bed center, but as I’ve always worked on small items it’s never hindered my work enough to get me to try the recalibration.

I use the set focus when working on cardboard cutouts, saves me from having to measure/remember/enter it. I’ll give it a shot with some tests and see if it makes a difference though.

Hello @ brucecooner

Thank you for the follow up. As previously stated, @jules indeed provided some great feedback and information concerning the X-Axis belt maintenance.

I simply wanted to expand as well as provide you with additional information you can reference prior to attempting the tension adjustment. I’ve included the following link from our support site that you can reference prior to making the adjustment to your Printer. adjust the tension of the carriage plate belt.

Let us know how everything goes. Thank you.


Hi @brucecooner. It’s been a while since there’s been any activity here, so I’ll go ahead and close this thread. If you run into any further trouble or questions, feel free to create a new thread, or write us at support@glowforge.com and we’ll be happy to help. Thanks!

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