Help scanning and printing

I’m retired and volunteer with the non-profit Southern Oregon Air Academy. We provide a week long camp to introduce Middle and High school student to the world of aviation and its careers. We teach the aeronautics of aircraft both fix wing and quadcopter drones… Along with navigation and maintains we are working with the rouge valley school system in their STEM operations. A few days before the first week’s session Stem acquired 3 Glowforge printers and wanted them incorporated in this years three sessions. They wanted the students to design an airplane feed it the machine and cut out balsa airplane and make it fly. I created set templates for them to design from. I have experience programming NC industrial cutting machines, IE laser,plasma,abrasive. But this machine total beyond me, my 75year old brain is not very agile these days. I’ve spend at least 16 hours trying to get this thing to cutout the designs to no avail. The students created their designs and so as not to disappoint them I spend lunch cutting out planes by hand to keeps us on schedule. I want to scan the design, create the cut paths and print. The manual doesn’t explain how to create an object to be cut from scratch. If some kind soul could give me a simple step by step instruction to just scan, adjust and cut. I can position the scan image to the right spot to cut and enter cutting parameters but that’s as far as I get. I probably should have just turned the kids loose on it and they’d get it working.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can render.

Oh wow. I feel the frustration. Wish I were up there I would gladly help in person.

If you have some experience, you are familiar with file formats. I’m going to be very basic, but I don’t know what you know.

The Glowforge cuts custom designs that are in a vector format called SVG. This format describes lines or paths and can describe closed paths like circles and such that are filled with a color. Many industrial machines use DFX as a file format, but that can’t be processed natively.

The Glowforge treats a line that has a specific color as a separate operation you can set a cut speed and laser power, along with focal point.

I typically use Inkscape as the vector creating program of choice. You can scan a hand drawn file and turn it into an outline to cut, but there are steps to make the trace work.

The Glowforge can cut an outline of an object too. So if you make the outline of a fuselage, that doesn’t have any intersecting lines or paths, you could choose to cut along the outline of the object.

Are you wanting to just place the drawn picture in the Glowforge to scan and trace and cut?

Choosing the correct portion of the line you want to cut is a challenge. This video explains well.

Here is another, but it demonstrates that sometimes it engraves things you don’t want. Get that outline takes some clicking.


You can check out The Design Team Tutorial Project (aka "The Matrix) for step-by-step instructions for a lot of software packages to help you get to where you want to be.

From your description it sounds like you’re printing out a template and letting the kids design from that? So you have the basic airplane model and they’re decorating it? If that is the case a cell phone and a single vector model might be your best bets.

A bunch of us would be willing to help convert your template file into a vector (SVG) format. If you want to share a picture of one of your student creations we might be able to better help with suggestions also.


I’m in Oregon, and run my Glowforges in a makerspace where we have a lot of younger visitors come in and draw something that we cut and engrave for them!
Let me know if you need some help even after you check out the really good answers above. I’ll message you with my cell number.


Success ! thank you for taking your valuable time and knowledge to help me.

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Success! THANK YOU for taking your valuable time and knowledge to help me get this thing goinng

Thank you for the help, everyone! @lisa_yriarte, I’m glad to hear you’re up and cutting.