How to justify a Glowforge over other laser cutters?

I’ve seen this question posted in a forum that I have promoted the Glowforge, but am a bit too much of a noob to give a clear concise fact based answer. Does anyone have any good solid points I can offer towards a reply?

“i’ve been actively trying to find an excuse to justify buying this. (still haven’t found a good enough one). with regards to @jasonw22 's comment - does anyone here have strong opinions about this device compared to competitors? or know of an online resource that compares models? i am totally uncalibrated”

I had to do the opposite. Try to justify why not to.

But the best I can say without knowing what they want to do is, it is best priced non Chinese laser on the market with a lot more features with a much much simpler design. Plus it looks lovely.

Not a dangerous Chinese knock off
Comes ready to run(all parts included)
Liquid cooled
Don’t need to calibrate
Auto vary focus(works on rough/curved surfaces)
More focused beam for a 40/45W laser(accurate/deeper cuts)
Cut double depth by flipping
Big cutting area
Catalogue if your lazy or new to designing
+many more reasons

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The Chinese lasers scare me, and I’m a huge believer that you get what you pay for. They seem ideal for someone that WANTS to have to tinker with stuff all the time. Personally, I already have that with my CNC, so the fact that the GF seems relatively tinker-free, that makes me a huge fan.

If not the Chinese units, that puts you into an FSL or an Epilog, and then you’re right into the same price as a GF Pro (unless you finance).

What I’ve told a couple of people is that they’re giving the opportunity to cancel up until our own units ship. I’m waaaaay back in the line, so chances are I’ll hear lots of real-world reviews before mine ships. if it lives up to expectations, then I’ll be even more eager for it to arrive. If not, I’ll cancel - but my gut tells me I won’t have to go this route. :wink:


Aside from the cost, the ease of use is HUGE for me. I don’t have laser experience or CAD design experience. I use Photoshop and illustrator, though. So the fact that I should be able to easily learn how to effectively design with and use this machine is a big plus.


I thought of it like my first laser printer for documents. After dot matrix printouts (my University had to call a special meeting to decide if a dissertation in dot matrix qualified for submission) it just felt so right even for $1000. Lasted 10 years. I’m currently on year 15 of an HP 5000n. From everything I see, this is going to be a quality product. Even at 2 year life span of the tube, not bad when you put it against toner cartridges and ink!

I used the same justification when I bought a 3D printer: It’s super cool and I want it!
It’s priced much lower than similar quality/size lasers and it is much better in terms of user friendlyness.

From my research the value proposition of the glowforge is expensive laser cutter quality (as in precision of cuts) plus simplified ease of use (as in programming the cuts) plus ongoing software upgrades that introduce new functionality plus it targets the needs of makers as opposed to industrial users.

From reading boards of laser cutter users, after you filter out prejudices (as in Ford vs Chevy as much as American versus Chinese), if you want straight cuts you’re fine. But for any fine detail engraving or cutting arcs most cheap laser cutters aren’t up to the task. The last three value propositions can be summed up as “it’s a consumer product.” I have a robotic lawnmower. Technically it’s a consumer product, but unless you know how to use a multi-meter, can think spatially, and view fixing any issues as “I can’t believe I get to work on a robot, it’s like Star Wars,” instead of “why is that darn thing not working today,” you will be disappointed in the experience. The glowforge is supposed to be more of a true consumer product in that sure it may break, sure you may need tech support, but no you aren’t expected to solve a continual series of problems pretty much on your own.

For me, what makes the Glowforge is the software.

The ability to trace a drawing - this is huge. Try doing that with any other laser.

The ability of the software to align and continue the cut using the
pass through. Again, unheard of elsewhere.

Auto Focus and being able to visually align the artwork to the piece in the printer. Again, I’ve never seen this feature and it will make using the Glowforge MUCH easier. (and if I know myself, I’ll have fewer pieces wasted because the artwork wasn’t lined up.)

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It’s the first and only laser cutter my 11 year old artist would ever be excited about. She keeps asking me when it will ship. I know she won’t bother to learn 2D CAD, but she’ll get her creations made anyway.

And for me, I use CAD software, but it’s nice that I can cut freehand shapes too! For decorative pieces, freehand is quicker than CAD.

The disadvantage, for now, is the waiting. But my early bird pricing makes up for that.