GF Not Cutting Through Proofgrade Material

Hello Friends,

I’ve been having trouble over the last 6 - 8 prints of cutting through proofgrade material. It seems like all the new material I bought does not cut all the way through. I have tried cutting through the material twice by aligning the cut line over the previous cut, but even then, I am not cutting through the material. This never happened in my first month of using the Glowforge, but started happening after my filter was full and the machine was filled with smoke. I have cleaned all the lenses and the mirror to make sure that everything is operating at full capacity. Engraving is working fine.

These are things I can think of.

  1. I store the proofgrade material in the garage. It’s summer and its hot. Could this possibly be warping the material?

  2. Even if I tape it down, I can’t seem to get a good cut through. I make filigree geometric jewelry pendants and earrings etc. so getting the cut through is important. I can’t even cut simple squares and rectangles and when I go to cut a piece of wood out of a proofgrade item. (Pics of my maple plywood are below).

So when I go to even try to wedge the piece out from the parts that are cut, the proofgrade board chips.

I’ve taken the basic steps mentioned in the manual (

I don’t know what else I can try?

All help and advice would be greatly appreciated.


Quite possible. Any swelling of the material (humidity) will cause incomplete cut through. You can slow the speed down by about 5-10 points and usually that will compensate for any slight swelling, and cut through in one pass. Or, you can pin the material down, check the cut, (I use a pick, but you can lift it out with sticky tape), and if it is not cut completely, send a second cut. Just don’t move the backing material and the second cut will land in the right place.


I will bring the material in. I wanted to print some pins, but I can’t get a clean cut through.

Can we put magnets in the machine during a cut to make sure the material is pinned down, or is this not recommended because of the bar on which the laser head is put.

Strong unshielded magnets can interfere with the print head if it moves over them during calibration or when it’s working. Just use two passes on the honeycomb pins the first time around. (You can specify the number of passes inside the settings area… click the thumbnail, then click on the little arrow on the right for additional popout options.)

Make sure you are getting all the windows and mirror are clean (there in a window hiding under the left side under the overhang) and make sure your lens that you remove with the blue thing is “cup side up”. It is amazing how little crud on the lens will stop it from cutting. And also the mirror hiding in the head under the top lid,

If there is a good chance your materials have had a chance to absorb water both the extra thickness and the extra water will reduce the chance of cutting through. Knowing this you can easily reduce the speed of the cut by 5-10 units doing tests on small pieces till you are confident you have it good.

Another thing I have noticed is that doing intricate cuts do not cut as deep as long straight cuts. When the laser has to move slower due to lots of twists and turns it turns down the power a bit to compensate, and my experience is that it overshoots just a bit, so cuts a bit less. again don’t be afraid to drop the speed 5 or so if you are experiencing this issue.

I kind of assumed but I guess I shouldn’t … did you replace the filter cartridge when it got full? That can definitely impact cut through, in addition to not being good to breathe.

I did. Glowforge was nice to send me a new one, because my cartridge had been so new. Engraving started working again (no smoke) but now cutting is driving me crazy.

Got it! I’d just try for some pins first (flat helps) then maybe slow it down some. I have to use custom settings for draftboard because it swells really badly here, even in the house.

I’m so sorry to hear that you’re running into trouble cutting through Proofgrade material properly. As @Jules pointed it out, it may be possible that the material is swelling due to humidity and the storage of the material.

Does this particular behavior only occur on specific Proofgrade material, or all Proofgrade material? If you utilize Set Focus during the print, and Default Settings, does the same trouble occur?

I’d like to have you perform a specific test print to ensure that your Glowforge is performing within specification. Could you please do the following?

1.Turn off your Glowforge, then turn it back on

  1. 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.

  2. Set the score and engrave steps to ‘ignore.’ Print the Gift of Good measure using the default settings. Allow the print to finish.

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

  4. 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.

Let us know how it goes!


Dear Marc,

Thanks for chiming in! I really appreciate the help. I will run these tests today and update you with the results.

No problem! Thank you for updating us. Once you’ve completed the tests, please let us know. We’ll review the log files from the print, and send over the next best steps.

Dear Marc,

I hope you’re doing well. I was finally able to perform the Gift of Good Measure cut. It did not cut all the way through, something that the GF has been doing for a while now. This cut didn’t even remotely go through (attaching pics). I did this around 12:32 PM CT. Please let me know what I can do.

My best,


(pics above) Front and Back respectively.

Thank you for working through those steps, and providing these images.

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

Please send 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

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


Dear Marc,

Many thanks for getting back to me. I am uploading the pics here via email. Please let me know if you need a closer shot.

Thank you for working through those steps, and for sending over the images of your cleaned optical components. Based on the photos, your optical components appear to be cleaned and installed properly. I’ve compared this information with the details we’ve extracted from the logs of your recent test print.

Unfortunately, it looks like your unit is experiencing an issue that we can’t resolve remotely. I want you to have a reliable unit, so I’m recommending we replace this one. I’ll be in touch via email to sort out the details. I’m so sorry about the bad news.

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