Glowforge Engraving Times. Naturally long or are we doing something wrong?

Hi there!
Quick question, we are engraving cork coasters. We found that the preset thin leather material works really well on the coasters but, the time is pretty lengthy ranging from 12-16 minutes for ONE coaster. We want to be efficient as possible with our time. So, we were wondering if this time range is normal? or if there is something that we can be doing better to shorten the time?

That’s pretty normal. Engraves take a while. You can reduce the lpi to save some time at the cost of image quality.


Okay! Sounds good, we were just wondering because when we did a cut out of plywood (5x12) it literally only took maybe 2 minutes. Do you know if engraving takes longer than cut-outs?

Yes by far, cuts are much faster. If you watch your GF’s head while it does it’s thing you’ll see why. Cuts (and scores) follow the vector line of the artwork around. Engraves are more like a regular inkjet or dot matrix printer where it scans across the artwork one pixel width at a time from bottom to top.

I have been doing a bunch of engraving of boxes the size of coasters. I want the highest quality so I am doing 1355 LPI to eliminate horizontal marks, but it takes five hours to engrave followed by five minutes to cut it out. 12 min per is pretty fast!

As you’ve no doubt found, cork takes an engrave very easily. I bet you could defocus and sacrifice a little LPI like @ekla said and still get really good quality. Depends on the specific art you’re doing, but yeah reducing LPI is going to be your biggest time saver by far.

There are other options, too, like traveling saleman solutions, halftoning, and other sorts of custom lines, you can do some really unusual engraving to get faster/unusual results, but it’ll all be really subjective.

See if you can convert the image to a score, that could really cut your time down! :slight_smile:

I was engraving small things on random scrap pieces of acrylic.
When the item was turned one direction it took 5 minutes, when it was turned 90 degrees the same item took 12 minutes.

Ah yeah, what @helene is talking about is that generally you want to engrave “wide”, not “tall”.

Most coasters are fairly square/round, so that is probably not an issue here, but avoiding unnecessary travel when engraving is key. Let’s take a round coaster example.

In this case, you want to make 4 round engraves. These four arrangements have 2 that I’d probably think are “best” for engrave speed, dark blue and dark red. Pink versus dark blue is an easy thing to see why the pink would be slower — you have to traverse all that space between them in the pink layout.

Dark green versus dark blue is exactly what @helene is talking about, the laser goes back and forth, and has to start/stop every row, that adds a lot of time to the dark green one, blue is much better.

If you do have multiple rows like light green and dark red, now you want to again try to reduce your distance the laser has to travel, so the dark red version is much more tightly packed, less area for the laser to cover and slightly less vertical height, saving rows as in the dark green/dark blue example. Definitely better.

There are some other interesting situations where it’s actually better to break your engrave up into two chunks. Take this guy:

Here you want to engrave the 1 and 2 then cut the rectangular shape. No problem, that’ll work, but it’ll be slow, because the laser has to scan back and forth across all this area between the letters (the light blue rectangle below):

In this case, it makes sense to break up the 1 and 2 into separate colors and run them as separate engraves:

Then the laser head only scans back and forth across these smaller areas (ish. this is an approximation):

How this might apply to coasters is if you have small engravings in the middle of larger coasters, sometimes it might make more sense to do those small engraves as separate steps and then cut everything out, rather than try to join them all up and engrave them all at once. Make sense?


#1 if there are many raster images they will be done one at a time no matter what.

#2 If all the raster images are made into one image the image will either be huge or low rez and in any case hard to maneuver in the GFUI. Multiple copies in a horizontal row is an interesting halfway point.

#3 Once up to speed the time taken is small even over distance. Stopping and starting 2 or more times as often can take more time even over social distancing

#4 For vector engraves it is weird. I just did one that I dropped into a predesigned cutout a row of three and a row of two carefully aligned all copied from one drag and dropped.
The GFUI did 3 one at a time and the two at once :crazy_face:

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