GF won't cut all the way through at default settings for various materials

I am having some weird issue with my GF Pro. This has happened with various materials bought from the store, both thick/medium plywood and hardwood.

  1. When I try to cut the same design on 2 different sheets of the same wood (let’s say thick cherry plywood) the first time it cuts all the way through, the second time it doesn’t cut through all the way.
  2. Sometimes it cuts thorough almost completely, but not enough, so that when I try to remove the cut pieces, they end up chipping and cracking on the bottom.
  3. I’ve cleaned the laser as recommended by GF, made sure the wood is sitting flat and it’s clamped down with clips (although the not cutting through issue has happened whether the wood is clamped down or not), and made sure the laser is sitting level as well.
  4. Unfortunately, I’ve wasted a lot of wood trying to deal with this issue, and I don’t want to continue to do so, because a lot of wood is out of stock.

The only workaround/solution I found so far is that I have to cut the thick and medium plywood/hardwood using the MDF Slow Cut default settings. When I do that, everything cuts through fully every single time. While that’s not an ideal solution, it works for my projects so far.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. :slight_smile:

Stupid question out of the way first. Have you checked the forums for anyone else having this same issue already? I’ve seen sever posts over the last few days regarding lasers not cutting all the way through material.
This may be a good place to start. Laser not cutting through materials link


Not a stupid question at all! I went through quite a few of those threads, have taken the steps to clean the GF, and same result. It cuts through the materials just fine at the MDF Slow Cut setting. But at the recommended material settings, the result is intermittent.

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First things first - you should be using something to hold down your material so you can pull out your cuts without disturbing the waste - that way if something hasn’t cut all the way through you can immediately close your machine and run the cut line again.

As PG material is guaranteed to work you should always contact support if something doesn’t cut through with the PG settings! They’re going to ask you to cut a Gift of Good Measure (in your dashboard). Per your description I would cut 2 of them - and then post pictures of the fronts and the backs along with the time you ran the job.


I’m definitely holding the material down with some clamps. :slight_smile:


Ok, but then why do they “end up chipping and cracking on the bottom”? As soon as you know they’re not cut through you should be running a new cut line.

but that’s not really the point of this! Cut that GoGM and post the pictures :slight_smile:


Simple test—- just make sure PROOFGRADE material on honeycomb tray is identical to the name on top left.

Just an example—. Medium cherry plywood will have different settings compared to medium cherry hardwood.


That’s a given! :rofl: There are still some particles of common sense floating around up here.

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A few days ago I made this mistake. I was cutting some PROOFGRADE plywood and the file cut perfectly.

Then I put in a piece of acrylic PROOFGRADE that had been previously used and the GF camera could not read the name because it had already been cut out.

The file did not cut out and immediately I thought they were something wrong with my Glowforge.

Finally I realized the settings were for the plywood and not the acrylic.


I’ve some that as well. I didn’t know my :glowforge: retained the previous settings. Tried to cut something out of acrylic and noticed halfway through it was still on draft board settings.


So, here are some examples of the issues that are happening. Before doing all these prints, I’ve cleaned the GF, and…

  1. made sure the material is held down by clips
  2. made sure the settings are for the correct material (plywood, or hardwood, or acrylic, etc.)
  3. made sure there’s no debris or anything that’s causing potential issues

And for every single one of these when I’ve used the settings that are recommended by GF, it never cut through completely. But, whenever I would use the MDF Slow Cut with 2 passes, the cuts would go through and work every time.

I’d like to know what’s happening and why it’s happening - the MDF Slow Cut is a nice workaround, but I’ll be cutting a lot of materials in the next few months, and want to make sure that my GF is working properly.

Would love a response from Customer support! :wink:

How old’s your Glowforge?

The optical parts are consumables and eventually need replacing (as will the laser tube).

There was a point where I noticed that Zeiss wipes weren’t fully cleaning my old (1.5+ years) lens quite all the way. It looked clean, but when I took a q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol to it and gave it a good rub, there was a smokey film that came off which the wipe didn’t take off. Cutting power was much improved after that cleaning.

Lots of people miss cleaning the window on the laser arm, under the left side of the case, when doing their cleaning. The air assist fan too, which keeps smoke and debris out of the cut path.


It’s about 3 years old or so? I waited 2+ years for it after the initial Kickstarter, so I lost track of time after that. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It may have a lot of dust inside, but it has been used very little - just here and there for some experiments and material testing. I’ve planned out my laser cutting side business and plan to start cutting a lot in the next 6-12 months. But so far, it hasn’t been used much at all.

I did an in-depth cleaning about 8 months ago, and just used some Zeiss wipes a few days ago before I did the latest run of cuts.

The unfortunate thing about putting it off that long is that the tube ages whether you use it or not. The clock started ticking in 2017 or whenever yours was built. CO2 gas escapes over time, reducing the tube’s power. If Glowforge’s tube has a catalyst coating to improve longevity, that only does its work when the laser is firing, so it may even wear out faster when not in use than when used regularly. The tube is rated to last 2 years, though it’s lasted longer for some, but you may already be seeing age-related power loss. Just a possibility.


Seriously? :astonished: I didn’t know that. Damn.

Also how old is your material? I notice the masking so I assume it is Proofgrade, but even then if it has been sitting for awhile, humidity will cause an issue. Here in southern Missouri the humidity is like a rainforest and I must keep my wood in a climate controlled closet to keep the moisture level of my material as low as possible.

The material is maybe 3-4 weeks old. It hasn’t been sitting long at all, and when I left it in my apartment, it was kept in a shaded corner of the room, flat on the floor so no warping would happen over time.

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@dan84 may be on the right track. Your kerf looks pretty wide too though. Could you have gotten the lens in backwards after the cleaning?

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An upside down lens would leave a black trail that’s like 2-3mm wide (almost as thick as a sheet of medium material). The laser beam is quite wide when not focused. It wouldn’t be cutting through anywhere.


Nope. The lens is in correctly, but I’ve had to do 2x passes to cut through the material completely, hence the kerf appearing wider than normal.

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