Glowforge - The blessing and a Curse

Like many of you I have time, energy , money and creativity into the GLowforge System.

I started to make some income and as that happened my orders got bigger, reaching my max of 500 part orders , and the stress that come with that .

Twice do to Glowforge problems order had to be delayed.
Lost a few clients along the way but than picked up some momentum but than came to a halt recently with the cable being bad , hoping that is the case.

Which leads me to how many of you have a second machine. !

What are the 3 parts that go bad on the glowforge ?

Black Cable being # 1 on the List

I read a post where Dan said it was best to get a second machine than to get extra parts which do not really exist for purchase that I can find.

I also have found that we make a lot of changes in the software to the designs and would love to have a way to export those changes out of the software.

Any input or thinking would be greatly appreciated on these matters.


If I had “obligations” to meet on an ongoing basis I’d definitely get a second machine. If not that at least have some other contingency plan. All machines break and Murphy says they will break at the most inopportune time.


ok 1 vote for second machine , Ok

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Definitely, if the business can support it. No one complains about a working machine or even notices when it doesn’t fail. If you are busy then every failure is at the worst time.


2nd Vote for another machine.

I’d go with a used Trotec or other laser. Then not only are you not dependent on the GF parts but also are not locked out when the internet goes wonky on you or the Google servers are down or whatever else the cloud decides to do to you.


Yes because if I would purchase two Glowforge I now have about 10 grand invested , which I think changes the game some, however, there is the new learning curve for that software and having to redo all the design work. Its the elephant in the room for 10 grand its interesting thinking , thank you


Yup, I’m not disagreeing with @jamesdhatch but it is definitely a matter of “pick your poision.”


Than again, this Forum has been priceless in getting me up and running and have done there best to keep me running , something I most likely would not get from somewhere else. So I do have to consider that also. There are some superstars that are responsible for my success with the glowforge.


I started in a similar fashion with 3D printing. I started with one printer as a hobby, then added a second when I started selling the service. Two years later I was running eight printers 75% of the time and was one of the highest rated providers on the west coast on the service I used. As of today I have used over 300 pounds of material and completed over 700 orders, about one every four days.

What I discovered from this endeavor is:

  1. The business will expand as far as you let it, or until demand drops due to saturation, competition, or price. You have control of the amount of work you do, either by saying no or increasing the price.
  2. There is nothing wrong with saying no, or giving deadlines that are reasonable for you. Better to tell a customer that you aren’t able to meet their deadline than to attempt and fail. Conversely, if you are transparent on new types of jobs and let the customer know, they are usually supportive of your learning curve.
  3. Always have a backup plan, and be transparent with your clients when backup plans fail. Have options in mind if you can for the customers, and/or for you.
  4. Attempt to under-promise and over-deliver. Two reasons: 1. It gives you breathing room, and 2. It makes it seem like you delivered above and beyond. Think Scotty over LaForge.
  5. Plan for downtime and maintenance. At a certain point of time, plan to replace wear items and make sure that your orders take this into account.

With these in mind, sit down and determine where you want to go with the business and what you need to do. Plan out your profit margin, especially taking into account your time, and plan to completely replace every machine every two years. This will give you the budget to either repair or replace as needed and give you expansion funds if you choose to expand.

When my provider stopped allowing me to use them in October I was unhappy for the loss of business, but happy about the breathing room. I realized that I hadn’t taken some of the time into account for maintenance and had four printers die in two weeks; as soon as the order numbers dropped it seemed like the printers failed for lack of maintenance.
I am also getting random calls from previous customers, on Facebook, etc. who are seeking me out now that the provider isn’t allowing them to work with me through their service. All this tells me I did OK from a customer standpoint, and gives me the confidence to share the points above.


And don’t forget to keep track of sales, expenses and profits for tax purposes. :slightly_smiling_face:


Same design programs & your current designs would work. The “lines=cut” & “fills=engrave” is fairly unique but using line colors to separate operations is pretty standard.

Some of the bigger names (Epilig, Trotec, Universal) have “print” drivers for standard design packages. I believe that was what GF was planning with it’s “print directly from AI” feature (when it comes).

With some you’d also have the ability to have your laser tubes refilled when they age out on you. They’re made of metal vs glass.


I don’t know if I’d get a second GF if I had a significant business need. I have only used one other laser, but I don’t think there was a learning curve in terms of basic use. They still utilize the same file types. Machine maintenance may be a bigger learning curve, though.

If I were going to be doing more business, but still relatively custom, I might do another GF. But if you’re talking large productions of the same item, I think a faster laser would be wise.


I’m not sure Glowforge is still working on this. I thought I’d read somewhere that they had stopped development on that, instead favoring the ability to copy and paste I to the GF web app.


You mean this one where Dan says:

We actually built an Illustrator plugin, but we found that Adobe repeatedly changed interfaces in ways that prevented it from working. Ultimately we decided to put that effort towards other projects that would consume fewer resources.



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