I have my GF, A few thoughts to all still waiting


#1

I have received my GF basic. Ordered Day 4. I have used it for a few weeks now.

Here’s some food for thought for those of you still waiting and wondering if you should continue to wait.

Pros:

  • It does a good job on up to 1/8" material which is how I use it.
  • The software works well enough to get stuff done.
  • Build quality is good. 4.5/5 stars. Better than expected.
  • Proofgrade materials are really good. Way better than expected and “reasonably” priced. Hopefully GF will continue keep this pricing, availability, and run some sales.
  • The cut/engrave/score work well and have good setting choices.

Cons:

  • The bed is small unless your only use is small. Hobby size really. I am spending a lot of time editing vector files to fit small 11x19ish artboards.
  • The software has a long road ahead. Don’t under-estimate this. One major missing feature is to save your layout/settings at will.
  • For those of you thinking the air filter will handle smoke and smell, I seriously doubt it. I have a direct output outside and the amount of smoke going out is a lot and the smell is pretty strong. The fan is well designed and strong. But, I would pass on the air filter idea unless you’re cutting stuff that does not create much smoke. Woods and leather really smoke. Why do you think it’s delayed till May 18’ and beyond.
  • The camera only accurately aligns if you position directly below the camera (center of bed).
  • Don’t toss the $249.00 shipping box, (really, $249.00)
  • Camera trace and cut is a joke at this point. Scale is so messed up.
  • I’m not a believer in the pro unit. The pass thru has several challenges (software, alignment, smoke release, …) I wouldn’t want one after using the basic. So I your have a pro with air filter on order, I’d re-think your order for sure.

My conclusion:

The basic is a good and “affordable” HOBBY laser cutter. I’ll get my use out of it. If that’s your use, I’d continue to wait for it even though the empty promises are getting pretty deep. For those starting a business, move on. Get a commercial device like an Epilog. Get it used if price is an issue. There are just too many things that are not adequate for business use and based on the company’s track record, getting commercial results from a GF is many years away.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:


#2

Thank you for the review! I am surprised anyone buying one would expect it to be at par of a commercial laser though


#3

I’ve had no problems with 1/4", and some people have tried with 1/2" and had success.

There are other reasons to want the Pro… more power, better cooling. I could see the Pro being used for a small business, especially a traveling business.

I’m optimistic that Glowforge will be able to address these via software updates in the future. Considering that the only other laser on the market that has these features was a total dud, I figure I’m ahead of the game.


#4

Can you clarify what you mean by the smell is pretty strong. The resultant smoke, or the smell in the room even with the direct outdoor venting?

I have a pro on order, and I was concerned with the pass through slots and how well it could contain the smell and smoke. Can someone with a pro comment on this?

I doubt I will downgrade my order but I may need to rethink where I intend to set mine up when it finally arrives in a few months(or sooner fingers crossed)


#5

Zero issues here with smoke containment when using the passthrough slots. The slots utilize a flap that creates a strong friction fit to the material surface.


#6

Ive done 1/2" no problem

I have to disagree here. Higher power tube, better optics, stronger motors, and active cooling are all big bonuses for me. I live in a hot place, so I dont want to wait for my glowforge to cool off, then restart an engrave and have it mess it up because of the temperature difference. Not to mention I dont want to wait at all.

The passthrough might not be perfect, but its something ill definitely make use of, if not just to fit oversized pieces in the bed.

I have a basic and an excitedly awaiting my pro.

Thanks for the review


#7

That is a good review, thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m afraid a lot of people have been carrying unrealistic expectations of the machine for a while…this might help them to make the right decision for them.

There’s a smell of residue from the smoke when you open and close the unit after a burn. If it’s happening during operation, it usually indicates that the venting is leaking somewhere. Maybe the foil hose has a little pinhole in it or it’s not snugly secured around the port…I accidentally poked a hole in mine while cleaning about a week ago, didn’t notice it, and started to notice a smell while the unit was in operation. Finally found it and patched it with foil tape, so it’s back to normal now.


#8

Nice of you to do a recap of what your experience is. Can you add a bit of color to it so folks can tell how your use case matches theirs? For instance, are you trying to do major art pieces requiring significantly larger bed or are your issues with the bed size due to having pre-existing designs for a larger size that you are & can break into smaller component designs and still get the same end product out?

I think I understand that you have a Basic and not a Pro so your concerns about pass-through leakage, alignment, etc are your assumptions and not the result of actual experience with someone’s Pro unit?

Do you have experience with other lasers & what have you used those for? I think that would help folks understand how your experience with the GF might relate to theirs - for instance if you’re used to a 100W Redsail with a 24x36" bed and you’ve designed a lot of projects to fit that, then the GF is going to be an issue but if you’ve never used a laser before or you’re just starting out then perhaps the limitations might be an issue for others in the same position.

That background information would really help to let folks put their own expectations into context.


#9

Any comment on odor or smell leakage? My planned room is relatively small( maybe 12’x10’), and I spend a fair deal of time in it as it contains my computer and desk and such. Assuming a sealed window vent system so there’s no blowback, would the odor be minimal? If not I’ll just have to rethink where it goes.

I would expect this, I suppose my question is really does it persist in the room(not the glowforge), assuming properly sealed venting.


#10

Good review, the only things I’d take exception to is we’ve known the bed size forever and personally I call it a prosumer product as it goes so far beyond the other hobby units available.


#11

Sure. Didn’t mean to ignore that aspect.

My venting set up is as simple as simple gets.

I open a window, drop the hose out, and slide the window back down to hold the hose there. Extremely elegant. :slight_smile:

I have zero issues with smoke or smell in the house while operating the unit - even with my elegant, over-engineered solution. The unit does harbor some scent, so sometimes I’ll get a little whiff of walnut or maple when I open up the unit. That’s going to happen with ANY cutter.

You’ll get a whiff of some material after cutting and opening things up. That’s some of the last remaining smoke (which they’ve extended post-op fan run times as a result) and the fact that you have material that’s been burned/vaporized by a laser.


#12

?? My experiences with it have been much more positive than yours, it seems… Just being honest, and you can look up my past posts. Been pretty busy with so much the past few months, so my usage has dropped off a lot, but still, my past projects are here for all to see…

:slight_smile:


#13

Pretend you are in a 10x12 room with a chain smoker. While the person is smoking all smoke is vented perfectly with no odor. But after the person leaves you are stuck in the room with a dirty ashtray (if the lid is left open and used material nearby). The smell of burnt wood is not objectionable to many people. The smell of melted acrylic or burnt leather is potent.


#14

If the seal is good, the only times I’ve noticed an odor is when the unit first fires up (might be a positive/negative pressure thing going there for a second or two,) and then afterwards when the unit lid is opened after a cut.

Recently (and I mean like yesterday) I noticed that the routine is running the fan longer after a print - it’s done a much better job of clearing the last remnants of smoke under the material than it has for the last several months. It wasn’t bad before…now it’s almost non-existant.

I run prints sitting ten feet away from the unit for however long it takes - it doesn’t bother me at all.

(And just saw @rpegg’s comment…the real smell does come from the residue on the masking and the tray. Keep the lid closed when not in operation, and remove the masking and stick it in a ziploc bag, and the smell dissipates pretty quickly.)


#15

Great review!

I LOVE the pass thru slot, I buy material in full sheets, then Cut it down to 20" wide. I just ran a big job over the past few days and being able to “feed” the material in to a stop not only save a bunch of material but also time. (the job fits on the bed so there is no alignment but the shape is a crescent so I can get 8 nested with the pass thru slot and would have only been able to got 5 otherwise from the same sheet cut in rectangles.) I would definitely call it a “prosumer” machine, every machine has its limits, I have a 4’x8’ CNC mill and that is often just a little too small:slight_smile:

I have been cutting 1/4 material with ease and 1/2" with success but not always as pretty.

PS this one job paid for half the machine!


#16

I had forgotten about that. Now pros are in the wild we should be able to compare the motors if they have the usual part numbers on them.


#17

i’m a little confused by this. nobody has actually seen the GF filter to be able to comment on it, but there are plenty of commercial lasers with filter systems that are run inside offices, so it’s not like this has never been done before and it’s not believable that GF could achieve a filter that is effective. the main issue they have is doing it in the footprint they’ve committed to, since the commercial filter systems are separate and larger.

i think presuming it can’t be done based on the amount of odor / smoke output going out of your vent is, well, presumptuous. it’s definitely achievable in general, it’s already been done by other companies.


#18

First of all, good to meet another NoCo Glowforge Owner.

I am going to disagree with you here on a few points.

  1. Pricing

The Epilog Zing 24 (24x12 bed size) with a 40 Watt tube starts at $12,000 (not including ventilation fan and cooling) Nice review is at Epilog Zing 24 40Watt Laser Cutter Review
The Epilog Legend Mini 24 with 40 Watt tube seems to be $10,000 Plus (without fan and cooling)

Epilog even references their prices Laser Frequently Asked Questions under “What is the cost of the lasers?”

If you are wanting a $10,000 plus laser, then Epilog makes a great in the shop laser. You are able to vent easier in the shop versus inside the house/office. But compared to a $3000 (Basic) to $5000 (Pro) expense, there is a big price gap (even more so with the pre-order original discounts). Epilog offers more features for the higher price, but those features were not part of the Glowforge design (12x20 bed, rotary cutting attachment, smaller bed height, no direct connection) and that was stated up front.

  1. Software
    They have been in business since 1988, which gives them a much longer time to refine their software.

Glowforge is in the early software feature designs and implementation (with stated goals for what they want to have available). I totally agree that their software version is more like 0.85.173 versus a 2.5.6, but software always gets tweaked and improved upon.

  1. Ventilation/Filter
    Currently, the 8’ vent hose is all that is needed to vent the GF :glowforge:. Epilog requires an external vent fan and does not have an in the home HEPA/Exhaust filtering system less than $2000.

Do I find that the Glowforge internal fan is capable of long venting runs or sufficient negative internal pressure to prevent smells? No. Duct work calculations and air movement capacity is needed to help. Same would be said (if not more so for an Epilog). My GF :glowforge: Pro is setup where I had to put in additional ducting and a booster (since the ducting is more than 8 foot to an external wall). The booster now creates a negative pressure inside the GF :glowforge: and even the air assist blowing close to the front pass through slot does not push out fumes.

  1. Pass Through and Camera

There needs to be a LOT of software updates and tweaking for these. I love the pass through for longer than 20 inch material. Just lack the room to do 4 foot material. I am looking forward to the camera refinements and the eventual pass through software functionality.

  1. Shipping box

If it is thrown away, yeah it will cost $250 to get a replacement (when doing warranty service on the GF :glowforge:). How much would it cost to crate back up an Epilog Laser securely (that weighs 140 lbs) and then pay shipping for warranty service? Probably a LOT more than $250.

Once I get my Tech Cave/Office cleaned up, let me know (DM) if you would like to came an see the Pro.


#19

Thanks for your perspective, all perceptions are valuable.

I have also cut 1/2 hardwood, didn’t say it was pretty, but cuts in most woods exceed 1/8 by a significant margin with this prerelease machine.

Saving the layout would be great, but for settings I just edit the file name to include them if I don’t document them in my notebook.

I share your concern for the filter. The charcoal for odor will saturate and particulate filter will face load requiring replacement, and the replacement frequency will vary depending on materials.
I am sure the filter will greatly reduce odor, but remain skeptical that you wouldn’t know what material was in the laser. I wouldn’t expect fresh air to be expelled from the filter. This is only speculation on my part.

Regarding smoke escape from the machine during operation, if the exhaust is properly configured and functioning normally every crack in the machine should be pulling air in.

Regarding empty promises, I don’t equate the confidence expressed in the projected time line as being deceitful, they were projections, not promises.

Now I am new (6months experience) to this technology, so it’s all magic to me, but I am curious what you mean by

It’s a 40W laser. What shortcomings does it have compared to another 40W laser? :thinking:
One thing to bear in mind, is the software is still beta, and will continue to evolve.

Again, thank you for your honest review posted here for the community benefit.


#20

Shhh…don’t say that too loudly or the folks who have been doing production work on their Glowforges (including making and delivering hundreds of items to their customers) might not realize they can’t do that :slight_smile: