Hosting a Glowforge Program for the Public


It went spectacularly, thank you everyone for you help! I was unable to get photos, but I can upload bits of the powerpoint if anyone is interested. Those who came really enjoyed it, and said it was a great starter for people who have no clue what a Glowforge (or laser cutter) is, nor how to use one. We did get two who thought it was presentation for the 3D printer, but were still kind and attentive during the presentation itself.

Once again, thank you everyone for your help!

Hey ya’ll! Standard “long time lurker, first time poster” messages, and so-on and so-forth.

As the title states, I’m hosting a program for people on the Glowforge. My library recently bought one, and I’ll be standing in front of a lot of people, talking about this cool new thing we’ve got. I’m turning to you, Glowforge community, in the hopes that some of you may have hosted similar programs. You would not believe how difficult it is to see what other libraries have done for their communities when it comes to this- especially given just how many now own one.

I plan on a basic run-down of “these materials are ok, these will kill us all,” and “here’s some common file set up problems.” We’re going to end with people getting to make their own coasters using the tracing feature, and seeing examples of what can be made.

So my question to you: if you were attending a program on the Glowforge, what would your burning questions be? I’ve been tinkering around with it so much that all my questions are technical and within the wheelhouse of wait I have to clean this HOW? or well now hold on why didn’t that cut all the way through?

Thank you for any advice you might have, and especially thank you for throwing questions my way (the more I can prepare, the calmer I’ll be about talking in front of people).


My burning question is “where is this going to be?” Because I’d definitely crash it if it were local.


Hey @mspricethelibrarian, have you put together a show and tell? @ChristyM has a good Facebook post about working with students and has lots of suggestions scattered through the forum…

Here is what my slide deck would be:

  1. Fundamental of a laser and what is possible with a 40/45 watt laser.
  2. Safety fundamentals for beam and of always watching what is happening and why.
  3. Why ventilation and how it works, along with air assist.
  4. Why the tube looks like this and cooling issues
  5. Unsafe and unusable materials
  6. Common materials and thicknesses, safe
  7. What is a raster image
  8. How the laser processes raster images
  9. What is a vector image.
  10. How a laser processes a vector image, strokes and fills
  11. Difference between cutting, light cutting (score) and engraving.
  12. Speed, power.
  13. Focus
  14. LPI

unfortunately it is a registration-required class, but if you’re local you can register for the August one- it’ll be hosted in the Spokane, WA area, findable here: SignUp | Demco Software under keyword “glowforge”

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Thank you! I had planned on shamelessly quoting a lot of what @jamesdhatch has to say in their “dispatches from the front” post, as well as showing off some of the tester engrave files I was able to make (seriously, thanks James, that post has been invaluable!). I hadn’t even thought to mention the focus, though, nor the ventilation (a sad oversight, since we’re gearing up to clean the vent fans tomorrow- should be lots of fun for all of us first-timers!)

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I think @marmak3261’s list is a good one.

If it were me, I’d probably start with the wow factor - here are some Really Cool things that have been made on the laser. Then I’d have everyone design their coasters and get them started with the engraving while you talk about everything else. I think people who are excited about the possibilities are more likely to listen to the boring parts. Also, it will take some time to engrave all the coasters so if you can do it during the presentation, you’ll save some waiting around at the end.


Huh, those were oldies :grin:

I think there was good stuff in those but I think @ChristyM is right - start with showing them why they care about listening to you. I do that with my laser classes - show & tell almost. It helps people understand why they want to know something with concrete examples they can hold in their hands and pass around.

Watch out for exuberance on the part of your audience - the possibilities can be infectious and you may end up being continually derailed by folks who are inspired and do the “could I do this…” which then feeds another person and…pretty soon you’ve spent a lot of time and discussion but you didn’t cover your presentation :grin:


Pre-cutting something like this: On the GO, Keychain for Show that could be handed around would be a great idea-starter

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I’m an Emerging Tech Librarian and I’m doing my first public program next month at my library, too! I read this thread with interest. I think my presentation will be less technical and more about showing people how to find or create svg files that can be cut on the Glowforge, showing off the trace feature, cutting a few things, and Q and A. People will be able to come back during open studio hours and get help with specific projects. I’ve made some plant markers and cut library logos out of acrylic and plywood to show people. I’m hoping people get different ideas for how they can make useful things with the Glowforge. Good luck with your presentation!


Good luck with all the programs and welcome to the forum for the new users! Be sure to tell us how they went and show some pictures if you remember. (I love seeing pics!) :slightly_smiling_face:


I’ve never heard of an Emerging Tech Librarian, but now I kind of want to be one!


Start with a simple explanation of what a laser cutter does. Use the GF to make some simple chotchkies to give to the attendees to remind them of what a laser can do. Key fobs or something. Made during the class. Assuming you have a projector, take them to the GF project site and show them examples of what people have done. The range and variation is immense. And a picture is worth 1000 words. Then cover the limitations, how big something can be or what it can be made of that the laser can work with, and then explain the things it can’t do (like cut steel) and then explain the things you shouldn’t do (like cut PVC).


I did one with my Maker Club kids for our library Glowforge, but it wasn’t detailed at all. It was more of a, “look what an awesome tool we have” and letting them try it out as you suggested.

We did little round tags for their lanyards with the year on them…so I passed out papers with a template on it (those of you who saw Glowforge at Maker Faire, something similar) and we used the scan feature to engrave their writing on a pre-designed tag in acrylic.

It takes WAY more time than you think it will, so I would only recommend having everyone do their own thing if you have a lot of time.

I didn’t focus on safety/venting/etc. because I’m planning on doing an online tutorial they complete before they are allowed to do projects on it.

One thing I would recommend? Actually pull up the portal on a big screen so they can watch you send the file. That got my students excited more than anything because they could see how easy it was.


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