How much people will charge for Glowforge time

How much would you charge for someone to use your Glowforge? Take the survey to see live results - I’ll post the totals when it’s run its course.


Great question. Should we assume the dollar figure is an hourly figure? Or “just a few hours”?

I assumed per hour.

GREAT point. Fixed the survey to say per-hour.


I’d be interested in seeing the answer too, because I have no idea.


I would need to be present so I just put in my hourly rate, pretty easy that way.

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Commercial project? I’d put down my daily price. Fun personal project? You can come by for free. Abstract art project? Please go somewhere else.


I let someone (a friend, not a stranger) borrow my Trotec Speedy 100 to cut a bunch of stuff for a Kickstarter product, I charged 75¢ per minute of laser time (as tracked by the Trotec software). That was for them to use it at their house, by themselves, using their material; it would have been more if I had to be there the whole time.

Does the Glowforge software give the user an easy place to check the “laser-on” time? Does it give more granular information?


Looking forward to the results of this survey!

Like @Hirudin was saying, I’ve been thinking about jobs in terms of minutes the laser is running. It’s not the same situation at the survey is detailing, but I’ve considered 3 or 4 parts:

(Feel free to chime in if any of this sounds absurd or unreasonable. I haven’t started charging this way, but it’s more or less the pricing system I’ve been working on.)

  1. design rate: I’ve always started from a base rate of $60/hr for design, $20 minimum.


1a) Setup fee: $20 for slight modifications to an existing file that’s more or less “laser ready,” $40 it’s ready save for maybe vectored via Image Trace in Illustrator. If I have to rebuild a design by hand, then design rates apply.


  1. cost of materials: I generally will round up by half costs to used area of material. If something is smaller than half a sheet of, say, Proofgrade wood, I charge half the retail cost of the sheet, if it’s more than half the sheet, then I charge for the cost of a full sheet. If it’s mostly a whole sheet, then charge double, I guess?

  2. Laser time:

I have been thinking that the time that laser is running is fair. 75 cents per minute sounds okay to me.

Based on that figure, an hour’s worth of time is $45. If that’s all they need, and they’re paying for materials, and know what they’re doing, I feel like that’s an okay rate. HOWEVER, if I have to hold their hand and essentially take over operation, I’d probably revert back to something like the design rates?


It’s a two fold question for me. Usually it would be a day rate between 250/500 depending on the project. Or if it’s a rental for just time to use the GF then it’s 30.00 an hour which is lower than most standards.


I would base this, more than anything, on what I make in my day job, with a slight discount since this would possibly be more fun and the coffee is better at my house. So that’s pretty subjective; any correlation with the crowd (and I’m seeing there is some) would be a coincidence.

I like your breakdown, especially your wording for “1a”.

I think an unfortunate thing about pricing-out a Glowforge job is the engrave speed. :frowning: Let’s face it, it’s not fast. The quality does seem to be high, but if a photo is going to take… hours… to engrave, it’s going to take a very interested person to pay $100+ for it. Maybe 75¢ a minute for cuts, 15¢ a minute for engraves? ~$20 for an engraved photo sounds… well, it actually still sounds high to me, but it’s certainly more reasonable than $100.


Depending on the darkness requested, 4X6 picture engrave on :proofgrade: wood, cut out, is 35-40 minutes. This is using default :proofgrade: settings.

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That time would change significantly with different LPI settings.

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True, that is default :proofgrade: settings. Keep hitting edit to add more qualifiers.

Ah yes, I saw your first post before any edits and that is what I replied to…

I figured. Normally, I post follow up instead, but that one seemed a reasonable place for edits. One downside is that people read and response before the edit is in place. Another is that you keep thinking of other things to add.


I like this list. A few things I would personally change.

  1. I would have the minimum be 1hr ($60 at your rate).
    1a) I wouldn’t include this. I feel it would get confusing. If any modifications have to be made that takes more than 5mins, I would charge them the design rate or send them the file back to fix it.

  2. I like this.

  3. I have been thinking about this and I keep going back and forth weather to charge by time or by project. If I did by time, I would do machine use time, not just cut time. Basically, including the time to load material, align, load design, etc. The other thing is I would probably charge in larger intervals, not by the minute. Something like this maybe:
    $15 per 15minutes
    $220 for 4 hours
    $400 for 8 hours


I wouldn’t charge anything for a stranger to come and try out my GF. I would also do jobs for my friends and family for nothing. I wouldn’t offer it as a paid service because don’t need the hassle or the money.

In the early days of RepRap people came from around the world to see my 3D printer and ask about it, mostly students. One of them went on to set up Ulitmaker: