Index of material settings and a question about engraving

Hello folks,

I’ve been mainly a lurker on here and have chimed in a few times over the last few years.

I’m eagerly awaiting my machine and UPS have sent notification my materials are on the way. I want to hit the ground running as I’ve more than 2 and a half years of ideas to get stuck into when it arrives.

I wondered if there was an index of material settings on the forum or would it be a good suggestion to have one on here with them? What I mean is none proofgrade settings for etching, cutting and scoring different materials. I understand that materials differ slightly from suppliers or country to country. For a simple example, standard copy paper 80gsm? what does it take to score, engrave and cut this? Mounting board such as the kind you do window mounts when mounting prints in a frame, standard wood types (not ply), pine, oak, maple, spruce. etc… etc… it’s possible there’s a thread on here that I haven’t found… I’ve seen a lot of settings added to peoples posts for various things but not a thread of settings alone.

Would a list of materials and settings people have had success with be a worthy thing to add to a tread? Papers / Cards / Woods / plastics and others.

One other thing regarding engraving, would a file such as this work as a 3D engrave? just a little something I knocked up quickly in Illustrator and saved out as a jpg. Does the transition of the gradient have to be set in a specific way or is white to black the way it works for depth?





Must be since it has been suggested so many times. There are several shared Google docs spreadsheets that have been linked on the forums. A couple of people have threatened to start at wiki, but I don’t know if it has been done. For myself, I just use the search box on Beyond the Manual.[quote=“neil2, post:1, topic:21634”]
a file such as this work as a 3D engrave?

I think likely yes depending on the effect you’re after and the material.


I shall try and hunt them out, thanks for that.

Other than bookmarking random posts with specific materials on and then scrolling about to find them I think i can see a benefit to it.

Along with inventibles materials too, I gather a lot of people are using those so a definitive list of settings would me marvelous.

Thanks for the input on the engrave… I guess a bit of trial and error when the time comes will be in order. My thinking was that the light areas would not be touched and the darker would be deeper. Does the Glowforge automatically calibrate the depth of the engrave based on the files colour or do you have to specify what black will be etc?

Black is deepest and white is always untouched regardless of settings.

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Thanks, I thought as much… Can’t wait to get on this. I’ve calculated I’m probably going to get the machine a day before I go away for four days. Impeccable timing.


This is true when using 3d engrave mode or “vary power”.

As for a canonical settings list I think that’s a challenge. While it seems like a great idea I don’t think it’ll happen for a couple reasons.

1: [opinion] we’re too small. We just don’t have critical mass to sustain yet another wiki, this forum is about all that a community of our size can wrangle.

2: [opinion] trust with “things that might burn my house down” will only be granted to official statements from an authority of some sort. You want to trust me not to burn your Glowforge up? I barely trust myself, so I don’t recommend it. :slight_smile:

2.a [fact/opinion] if you accept #2… Glowforge will never issue an authoritative list of settings for lots of reasons. Here’s three: A- they don’t want the liability. B- they understand the user experience should be as perfect as possible and this is begging for disappointment (see item #3 below). C- (this is the big one) it’s not their business model. They want to sell proofgrade, not facilitate using other stuff

3: [fact] there’s no “one setting” for a material. There are jumping off points but even those are subjective.

Take engraving — want it darker? Ok pump power. Wait that was too deep? Ok slow it down and drop power. Oh wait or you could lower power and up LPI. Or maybe you could sand or oil your material for a different look. Or use masking(or not). Or multiple passes. What’s the moisture content in your particular sample of this material? Did you want to defocus? Above or below the surface? Want to score the edges after? Cut it out? Wait, are you using a pro or basic — full power is different between them.

There are probably more questions to ask, these are the ones that jumped to mind. There are similar questions with cutting. My point is that even between batches of a specific material, you have to test and adjust. I know this, and Glowforge definitely knows this, hence why proofgrade qr codes are batch specific.

So,… I guess I’m saying is that I think there are several reasons why this hasn’t happened, and while it might be handy, it’s probably not that much of an improvement over searching the forum, especially in that a forum post will often have lots more context that can matter a great deal.

There was a recent post that actually tried to quantify settings based on wood density. Very promising idea for intuiting some settings, but it’s still in its infancy.


i think another issue with an index of settings is that those of us who understand what we’re doing will know they’re basically a starting point (for all the reasons @evansd2 mentioned above). but a huge segment of the target audience for the GF will look at anything even semi-official and say, “these are the settings, why don’t they work?”

so while many of us look at this from the perspective of makers and as a tool to experiment with, another large group looks at this as a tool that should “just work,” as much of the marketing shows it working. and it’s way closer to that than many maker tools (especially with proofgrade), but it’s not actually that.


Thanks for that… I was under no impressions Glowforge themselves would give a list of settings for non proofgrade, if they did that no one would buy their stuff and I understand the liability issue. I guess it’s going to be a bit of trial and error on experimenting then.

After reading all of that my mind is melting a little, power/speed/LPI etc… without the machine in front of me it’s still hard to get my head around all of the finer points of how it all works. I’m new to lasers so absorbing all of the technical details is taking a bit of getting my head around.

I guess as time moves on and more people experiment with materials it will make a little more sense and the knowledge base of info will grow over time.

Appreciate your input, thanks

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Yeah, I’m very much on the experimental side of things when it arrives. I’m ready for a lot of things not quite working out how i’d envisioned they would.

Just trying to absorb as much technical info as possible at the moment.

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if you’re comfortable experimenting and knowing that you’re going to literally burn up some materials figuring things out, you’ll be fine. just keep good records of successful settings on your materials. and searching here on material types has usually found me a handful of options for starting settings.

There’s a massive learning curve when you get your machine, but it’s a really fun one.

I am always looking for people’s Glowforge workflow descriptions because there are so many ways to accomplish a goal… there are so many clever users on here, it’s really incredible to see what people are doing and learn from them.

I’ve a notebook at the ready for all my notes and a pile of wood and all sorts here waiting to be disintegrated.

I’ve been absorbing all the workflow information and descriptions… with so many now out in the wild it’s hard to keep up. The forum is great, it’s getting a little daunting at the moment.

One of the things I’m planning on doing is taking some of my print illustrations and making multiple block print designs from them. How much detail is too much? will the glowforge have a heart attack over a finely detailed vector illustration? Not sure if i’m going to have to simplify some of my work.

if you want to, you could ask someone here to load one of your illustrations to see if it’s too complicated to load and/or how long the GFUI says it will take to engrave.

That’s not a bad idea, I still need to get rid of overlapping lines and things in the files before getting them to a cutter. They work fine for printing digitally but not right yet for the laser. For example this is a 1200% crop

of this A3 print


I mean, not all vectors are created equally, but you can get a guess by just looking at the number of nodes. Anything over 10K and it gets kinda heavy. It’ll probably work (I don’t think there is an official upper limit) but it’ll get slow.

I will say that cutting a vector like that is likely not going to work very well. All those corners will lead to pretty heavy overburn on most materials – I wouldn’t cut a line like that in cardboard, it’ll almost certainly catch on fire.

Engraving you’ll probably have no problem, but if you want to make it have multiple shades, you’ll probably be rasterizing anyway.

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I thought as much, it’s pretty heavy on the points in there. I’m sure I can get in there and revise it without losing the essence of the original.

Really need that thing sat here in the studio to play with… it’s getting too much

Download “Free Laser Designs” of material tests from the GF community. There are a few and can make the next run after the test, way easier to set. Even then with slightly differing materials, the starting point can be fraught with a few missteps, but at least getting to your destination isn’t a complete shot in the dark.

Your gradient art will work fine. I suggest first making a 3D test object to dial in your “vary power” settings. Mine looks like this:

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Thank you both, I was wondering about those test sheet thingys, seems like the logical way to do it. Love how your example slowly gets deeper and deeper in a nice gradient… just seeing tha alone gives me ideas of other things.

I cut out some tree profiles two weekends ago from :proofgrade: medium maple plywood that looked a lot like your ridge line and it was fine. The tree was four inches in length with no over burn issues. If you want to do that in an inch, then hmmmm, but if it is across six inches I’d expect success. Somewhere in between you’ll learn a lot about both your laser and your material.