Engrave issues following moving the unit?

I’m having some challenges with engraving since moving my unit to a new place in my house and on a new table. I had previously just had my unit on an Ikea LACK side table, which worked fine, it was the right size. It was a bit low so I would just have to sit down in a chair to watch it. Been using my machine (I’m now on a second machine, which was a replacement unit from the first that started having serious issues back in November).

I moved the machine into my basement studio space, and its now on a much more suitable work bench from Harbor Freight. Its a solid wood, HEAVY work bench and there is no issues with it being level. The depth of the work bench is not quite as deep as the depth of the machine, but both sets of “legs” on the bottom of the machine ARE very securely on the table, it just the front couple of inches off the front of the machine that come off the edge of the table; the machine is still very securely sitting on the table.

My engraves are not coming out as cleanly as they were before, despite using the exact same settings, and the exact same materials that I previously used. I’m primarily using extruded mirror acrylic (etched from the back) and the 2 tone 1/8" engravable plastic from Inventables. I have done prints with both materials, with the same settings, prior to moving the unit and had no issue. I’m now noticing that the engrave areas aren’t engraving as cleanly anymore, I can see engrave lines where its ablated material away and I didn’t have this before.

I did NOT perform a recalibration on the machine after moving it, but I DID run the test pattern and could confirm that it appears to be accurate. I’m not having any cut through issues or cuts seemingly being off from what the camera says.

I am not really sure what to do here; I had these settings dialed in and they have been working fine for almost an entire year so I’m nonplussed why I’m having issues now since moving the unit. It might not have anything to do with the moving of the unit, but its the only new variable. I’m using the same engrave settings, material thickness, focus height, speed, power and LPI as I always have.


Same exact piece of material? Acrylic is pretty consistent but it’s not perfectly so.

Did you clean your lens lately? If so did you put it in correctly, “bowl up”? If not, is it time that you did?

Got any pics of before and after?

EXACT same material. Literally from the SAME sheet as before. We moved it to the new location a couple of days ago, and I have pieces that I cut from the same sheet of material, with the same settings, on the SAME day prior to moving it and they were FINE. I can’t imagine it having anything to do with the lens, as we are talking about a unexplained sudden performance issue merely hours apart after moving the unit, and the same pieces of materials. The only new variable is that the machine is in a new location and sitting on a much taller table than it was before, which I can’t imagine would make much difference whatsoever.

I was hoping to not have to blow through a sheet of proof grade material just to run a calibration on it, but I might just have to do it just to tick off the boxes of things I’ve checked. I already wiped everything down thoroughly after I moved it to the new space.

If you took the lens out to clean it and inserted it upside down it can lead to all manner of bad performance. If it’s overdue for a cleaning, it can also have issues.

You present a weird case, so I suggest less likely causes that are still in your power to fix. If you broke it physically during the move that’s something that we as a collective can do less about.

Don’t be so sure. The head could be unseated on the gantry. The crumb tray might not be firmly seated. The mirror could have shifted in the head.

All unlikely but possible, and that’s just off the top of my head.


The lens was not taken out to be cleaned after it was moved. This is a replacement unit that I got on December 31st and it hasn’t really had much use during the past 7 weeks to warrant needing one. So for all intents and purposes, this is a nearly new machine, with the exception of the crumb tray (which was original to the first machine) and that was fully cleaned out in November.

It unlikely I “broke” the machine while moving it, we were very careful while carrying it, it didn’t get jostled around a crazy amount. I guess I’ll just have to do a checklist of assorted things to see if anything looks “off”. It IS engraving and I’m having no issues with it cutting through. But its just not engraving with the same performance as before with the exact same settings. When extruded acrylic is engraved, it engraves out to clear and I’m seeing that there are areas that are NOT being ablated out cleanly to clear anymore. Its not a significant difference, but its enough of a difference that I can tell. It was engraving CLEAR CLEAR CLEAR before.

Before and after pics might help?

Clean all the optics. It’s a super fine line between “works fine” to “something is off”. On a busy GF day I’ve cleaned them 2 or 3 times, even for “clean” looking materials like acrylic.
Check that your new location is FLAT, not just level. Also no specks of anything under the runners or in the divots of the crumb tray. If you’re not completely flat you can shim errant corners with a few sheets of paper until you get evened out. The GF case can twist a bit.

For the calibration you don’t need to blow through a sheet of Proofgrade. Anything the same size, light colored and FLAT works. Remask a previously used sheet until the old marks are hidden or even a clean sheet of cardboard totally work.


I think this is the most likely culprit. I hope future Glowforge models have a more rigid bottom; even a tiny twisting of the case can cause problems.


I didn’t know that about the calibration! Great tip! I can reuse the same sheet several times that way!

This is the bench I bought from Harbor Freight. Ignore any pegs or added things that are in the photo. They aren’t on mine. Its a 200 lbs solid wood work bench. Its very stable! Much more than the janky Ikea side table it was on!

I’ll try doing a thorough optics cleaning and do the recalibration and see if that helps.


Check your GF for flatness too. Make sure the lid is flat across the top of the whole machine (use a metal straightedge). Also make sure the gaps are the same both around the lid but also on the sides in the front. If the the lid isn’t flat across the width of the machine or the gaps aren’t even slip something under the foot on the corner where the gap is widest. I have a heavy duty tool cabinet with a 1.5" solid top and I had to slide a piece of thin cardstock under the front right corner to get it dead flat and the gaps all the same. Haven’t had an issue since.

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They also kind of “bind up” if you slide it around - for example, putting it on the surface and then sliding it into position. You can almost kind of pick up one side and pull it out, and then do the other side, and that seems to help.


I have that bench; unless yours has lead feet that isn’t a 200 pound bench. I can lift it alone. It isn’t all that stable either. Mine rocks and moves under any side-to-side movement even after I tightened all the screws up again.

Thanks to everyone who commented. I did check it with a level and it was not 100% level as I thought it was. I ended up putting a piece of scrap acrylic underneath on the side that was off and while it didn’t make it 100% level its now about 98% level, and more level than it was before.

I did another engrave on the mirror acrylic and it seemed to have solved it. I just did a small test, will be doing a bigger one to see on a bigger scale how it did where I can look closer.