Engrave gets fainter and fainter

I tried to engrave a QR code onto a piece of wood. When I tried with SD proof grade settings, it worked fine, but when I tried on HD I got an engrave that got fainter and fainter as the engrave went on:

What’s going on here?

The HD settings are very fine - unusably so IMO, but some folks use them. In that particular case I’d guess that it was going out of focus - if there’s a piece of debris under your material, or your tray is out of its divots, that can happen.

You’ll also see an effect like that when the mirror under the left edge has gotten dirty - the further toward the lower right hand corner you get the worse it looks.

So first, clean your lenses/mirrors (all 6 of them) and then run a test again.

If you’re still seeing an issue, run the Gift of Good Measure on PG material and post photos of the front and back, and the time you did so. A staff member can review the logs and see what’s going on from the back end.


Oh no, I’m sorry to hear about the trouble @jwalton.

As @deirdrebeth mentioned, I’d like to have you perform a standardized print for our next steps. The design we use has some known dimensions built into it and it will help me extract logs afterward to take a closer look.

Here are the steps for the test:

  • When the print finishes, leave the lid closed and wait until the fans stop and the picture updates.

  • If the Gift of Good Measure fails to cut through, take a photo of the front and back of the print and attach these photos to your reply.

Let us know how it goes!

I suspect @deirdrebeth was right - the board I was cutting was very warped, so it was probably just out of focus.

Here’s what “gift of measures” looks like:

It didn’t cut all the way through, but it looks OK. All my optics are very-very clean.

Not cutting through is still an issue though! Fingers crossed they figure out something you can fix at home :slight_smile:

I’ve had my GlowForge since Oct. 2017. Could just be the laser tube is getting old? It hasn’t seen a ton of hours of use - I use this machine less than I should. :stuck_out_tongue: But I’ve heard laser tubes lose power with age irrespective of use?

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Yes, this is the case.

I believe support can tweak the power levels used by your machine to make it better at cutting through reliably.

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The machine was designed around a tube with an expected two-year lifespan. It doesn’t matter how much it was used, the internal gasses will break down even if sitting unused on a shelf. I’m not going to explain it, a quick search can help you understand.

They did, however, commit to a very generous replacement scheme - on which they probably lose a ton on shipping alone, let alone labor and parts.

Yeah, I understand. I’m not in the US, though, so if I want to replace the tube I assume it is way more economical for me to just order the tube and do it myself. I’m happy to do that, but I can probably eek a little more life out of this tube. It didn’t cut all the way through, but I’m sure it will if I crank up the power a little bit. Proofgrade materials are a cool idea, but last time I checked they don’t even ship to Canada so I can’t get that benefit. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thanks so much for doing that test print.

I would like to check over just a few more things. Could you do the following for me?

Please post photos of all your cleaned optical components, with special attention to any damage you might find:

  • Both windows

    • The printer head window, on the left hand side of the printer head

    • The laser window on the inside left of the Glowforge

  • The printer head lens

    • Both sides of the lens, top and bottom

  • The mirror inside the printer head

  • The bottom of the printer head with the lens installed

Once we have those pictures, we’ll follow up with next steps.

Here are the two windows:

Here’s the center lens:

Wait a minute…. That’s filthy. Let me shine that up:

There we go. And I forgot to take a photo of the mirror. -_- But it’s very clean - perfect condition.

After cleaning that blemish off the main lens, I tried to cut a circle through medium draftboard:

So close! Almost all the way through.

@jwalton Thank you so much for your photos. It looks like there may be some small damage to your Printer Lens. Sometimes it’s hard to tell in a photo. Can you let me know if the mark on the lens can be cleaned? If not we may need to replace this before continuing.

If you look at the very next photo I showed above, I cleaned it, and the mark went away completely. As I mentioned above, cleaning the lens improved power to the point where it will almost cut through proofgrade draftboard on proofgrade settings.

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@jwalton I am so sorry for my confusion. I do see that you said that now. There is some additional information I would like to gather. I am going to go ahead and close the forum post and move this to email for further follow up.