Engravings start off looking nice and detailed, but get "blurry" as they progress


I’m loving the Glowforge so far, but I’m wondering why, sometimes, I’ll start an engrave, and everything is looking great for the first 5-15 minutes, but towards the end, the details get a little fuzzy.

I tried searching to see if this is covered elsewhere, but to no avail.

Restarting and/or starting a new print usually solves the issue temporarily. And it doesn’t happen everytime. I’ve tried cleaning the lens and other basic troubleshooting routines.

Thanks in advance!

It’s most likely a focus issue due to the fact that the material is not laying flat against the crumb tray.


A picture of your user interface with the material and design, if possible and appropriate and a picture of the material that is blurry may help.

I am not quite sure what is blurry. I assume that it is the engraving detail on the material.

That seems to indicate that the head lens may be losing focus. Could be slipping, but could be material that is warped or something on the gantry that is lifting things or interfering.

Differential diagnosis would be to try the Gift of Good Measure on different areas of the bed. Then do a longer design. Just guessing. Still good use some a clearer distinction of the problem.


Would you be able to post a photo of what you are describing. Also, what material are you engraving on?

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I agree with @eflyguy. Sounds like something isn’t flat.

  1. Is the crumbtray property seated in the bottom? It has 4 feet that should be set into 4 divots.

  2. Is the material warped? Most of us use magnets to hole the material flat. If part of it curves up even 1/32" of an inch, it can cause it to get out of focus. (This is a definitely problem with veneer, but I’ve also had hardwood and draftboard with a little bend.)

  3. Is the material super light (e.g., paper)? If so, then the fan might be blowing it up a little. Again: magnets.

  4. Is the crumbtray free of small crumbs? A small cut-out sitting on the crumbtray could act like the pea under the proverbial mattress.

Thank you, everyone, for all the wonderful advice you’ve given! I do have to agree with @marmak3261, if you could send us screenshots of your App and pictures of your materials showing the fuzzy engravings that would help us further investigate what happened. You can send that here or if you would like you can send it to us at support@glowforge.com.

In addition to what others have suggested, another method to hold down your materials would be to use small pieces of scrap to print these pins available in the free laser design section: https://community.glowforge.com/t/honeycomb-bed-holdown-pins/18652.

Thanks for the helpful advice everyone. Here are some photos describing what I’ve been seeing

I’ve seen this issue mostly with draftboard and basswood. I usually use tape to hold materials down.

I will double check the crumbtray.

If anyone has any other suggestions, please share :slight_smile:

I just checked the lens and it looks like it had something on it. I cleaned it up and that seemed to improve things drastically. One persistent recurring issue is that it is having difficulty cutting through the proofgrade draftboard. Any tips on that would also be appreciated.

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The lid camera has nothing to do with print operations, it’s only there for head positioning and previews for the UI.

The first image indicates a lack of contrast in the source image in that “blurry” area.

  1. yes, the crumbtray is flat and resting in the divots.
  2. the material is not warped. I’m using fresh, proofgrade boards, and I am holding them down with the honeycomb pins.
  3. no, it’s happening with draftboard
  4. yes, crumbtray is clean.

so, it turns out this is still happening. starts crisp and then, after a few minutes, loses focus.

I double checked all mirror and lenses, everything is fine, no blemishes.

Not sure what else I can try to fix this. If anyone has any more suggestions, I’d love to hear! :slight_smile:

edit: it even happens when I am engraving the Gift of Good measure, and it doesn’t seem to matter where it is on the tray.

I wonder if the internal rails could be bent or misaligned? (Just guessing here.) Are there some parts of the tray that are crisp and other areas that are blurry? Or is the blur strictly over time? (E.g., is the starting place always aligned and it gets worse with distance but sharpens back up as you get close to the starting point? Or does it just blur over time?)

This is something that Support could help diagnose. Send them photos of the Gift of Good Measure, where it was on the crumtray, the empty crumbtray, and photos of the rails.

It’s strictly over time. Not placement based. Starts out crisp, eventually starts to blur. I’ve had a few engraves go perfectly fine. So odd.

Interesting! Okay, I’m going to throw out a crazy idea…

The top of the laser head comes off and there’s a blue-handled mirror that moves up and down. I wonder if you have a bad spring, or if it’s not perfectly smooth down there (e.g., dust) that’s causing it to stick over time or to bump out of alignment. (Humidity maybe? Are you lasering in a sauna?)

Edit: As @rpegg pointed out, the mirror isn’t supposed to move, but the lens below it can move. Check that for dust, grime, humidity, etc. Basically, I’m wondering if the moving part isn’t moving correctly as it is used.

For clarity, the blue handled mirror doesn’t move. It’s foam cushioned in place. There is a piece below it in the optical path, magnetically attached to the lens, that moves up and down.

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Whoops! Thanks for keeping me honest.

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Thank you for providing us with that information. You had mentioned before checking the lens, and after you had a little more success with our engraving. Could you please follow the steps located on our support page here for “Things That Need Wiping”?

After completing this, I’d like for you to try one more thing:

  1. Turn off your Glowforge, then turn it back on
  2. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Place Proofgrade Draftboard in the bed and load the Gift of Good Measure design.
  3. Set the score and engrave steps to ‘ignore.’ Print the Gift of Good measure using the default settings. Allow the print to finish.
  4. When the print finishes, leave the lid closed and wait until the fans stop and the picture of the bed updates.
  5. Check the completed print:
    • If the Gift of Good Measure fails to cut, please let us know the date and time of the print
  • If the Gift of Good Measure cuts successfully, please try another print of the design you saw the issue with, and let us know the results.
  1. If the issue still occurs, please let us know the date and time of the finished print.

Once the test is finished, go ahead and post the results and let us know how it goes!

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It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies on this thread so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email support@glowforge.com.