Glowforge Interface - How to Get Perfect Alignment (Yes, perfect!) 🤔


Thank you, and you’re very welcome to the tutorial information. :slightly_smiling_face:


Very good.
This is exactly the process I used for 2,000 tokens (with the exception of the square cut). @marmak3261 turned me on to positioning the file for each side together in different colors.

Nice work Jules!


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Really a great tutorial, especially for those of us without a machine yet. I now feel confident that I can get that wooden nickel design for my dad’s train club right from the first cut to the last. So awesome!


If CS5 is antique, my CS4 is fossil fuel! :sauropod:


Nice! Thanks for the walkthrough.


Huh? Don’t export svg. Save As or Save Copy.
CS5.1 Save As: SVG: basic settings screen
32 AM

Convert to outline option is there under Type.


Well, that certainly makes my life easier! Chuckle!
Thanks! :grin:

(I’m going to go ahead and leave the text converting step in the writeup though, because people using other programs need to know it’s a step that needs to be considered.)


if you click “more options” you get to the advanced settings screen. These settings have worked great for me, both in the GFUI and to upload to the forum:

Of course, if your text is overlapping another design element, you will want to convert to outlines/expand before save/exporting (like in your writeup above), so that you can knock out the overlap areas with boolean operations (pathfinder).


Also just realized that I am running the slightly updated CS5.1 (version 15.1.0) and I don’t know if there are version differences if you are running straight 15.0.0.


I’ll check it out later…I’m so ingrained with converting text to objects to manipulate them from a decade or so of digital cutting file creation work that it will be tough to learn to leave it alone. :smile:


Yup yup. I consider it an emergency backup for if I have forgotten to convert some errant bit of text.

For script fonts, bubble fonts, and anything that you have smooshed together, converting to outlines and uniting everything gets rid of all the overlaps within the text itself. Overlaps (as I’m sure you are well aware) cause problems for direct vector output like digital cutting or laser-scoring. Not something you have to worry about with pure raster output.


Ahhh, yes…confetti fonts. :smile:


Once again I bow in amazement to the amazing power of @Jules!
Can’t say it enough times…THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO! It is appreciated so much.


Nice writeup. As long as the fixture described in the OP doesn’t shift, alignment should be within about one kerf width for the material/settings being used. That’s pretty good alignment.

[edit]Oops, it’s actually only accurate down to one kerf, not half of one like I originally wrote. That’s still pretty good though.[/edit]

I’d suggest trying to decide which side of your design is most critical to be aligned with the cuts, and preform the cuts immediately after engraving that side. In the design in the OP, it would be difficult to detect a slight misalignment between the text and the outside edge of the ornament so alignment on this side is not very critical. The bitmap image, though, comes pretty close to the hole in the ornament; it’s critical that the hole doesn’t intersect the image. So, in this design, I’d recommend doing the cut operation in the same setup as engraving the bitmap image. (“same setup” = started by a single press of the Glowforge button)


I was thinking, all laser cuts are going to have a taper. Generally they get wider at the bottom so if you cut after engraving the first side then you will be using the widest part of the cut matched with the smallest part of the cut at the top. So depending how big your taper is then you could have less than half the kerf?


Good points @Hirudin and @BSheremeto, you can order the cuts whichever way makes sense for what you are wanting to do with it, although if you cut the circle at the same time as the flipping square, you need to tape it in place to keep vertical alignment stable.

The surface focus on the cut does give a slightly wider kerf at the surface and a much narrower kerf at the bottom of the material. I’ve found that cuts being flipped over inside a hole this way tend to fit back into the hole with little to no clearance, making for perfect alignment of the secondary process. They fit tightly at the top.

Good things to bring up. (I’ve actually had some be a little tight on me doing that, when they are not just a simple square shape.)


Yes, I noticed by flipping one or the other you put the two narrowest edges together.


Oddly enough, when I’ve checked for taper it’s always been wider at the top (as @Jules said above). I’ve mostly cut ~1/8" acrylic and Baltic birch plywood, and the tapers that my machine makes in those materials are pretty slight (I’d estimate between 0º and 2º).

Assuming the taper being wider at the top is how it usually/always is…
If you leave the square that is cut in the first setup and leave it in place the gap at the top of the cut will be wider than the gap at the bottom of the cut. For kicks, let’s say the gap is 0.004" on the bottom and 0.008" on the top (which would be a ~0.9º taper). If you then take that square and flip it over, the tapered edges will be basically parallel and the gap will be an average of the two (0.006").

(I realize that I was wrong about how accurate this method is and will edit my post above.)


hmmmm, maybe I’m miss remembering my laser cut steel ordering and getting it backwards on the kerf. Either way it should make it more accurate even if only slightly.


Are you saying that the flip will make it more accurate? If so, I don’t think that’s the case. In the example above keeping it as cut would give you 4-thousandths of play and flipping would give you 6-thousandths of play. Remember that the cut piece is going right back into the hole that it was cut out of. If you cut the jig/fixture separately, you could cut it ~0.006" under-size to eliminate the play.

Having parallel tapers would make it stronger though, I would imagine, so would offer an advantage there.