As you may know from our previous update, we’re shipping pre-release units to customers now. These are units that have only small differences from what we expect of production units, delivered before the software has all final features.
When we ship a unit, we want you to confirm that you want it. That means every unit - production or pre-release - starts with an email explaining exactly you can expect. For users who haven’t read every forum post to keep up on developments, this will help them make sure they know exactly what they’re getting.
Once you’ve reviewed this information, you’ll have the chance to accept or postpone delivery. Of course, you can also cancel your order at any time until you accept shipment of the production unit.
This is the letter we’re sending to customers who are getting pre-release units. I’m sharing it here because some of you asked, and because it’s a good indication of where the product is at right now for those who are curious.
If you’d like to receive a pre-release unit, please fill out the beta application form if you have not done so already.
Would you like a Glowforge printer shipped to you now?
If so: good news. We’ve chosen you to receive a Glowforge pre-release unit. If you want it, say the word, and we’ll send it your way!
Before you say yes, though, it’s very important that you know exactly what’s in the big, Glowforge-shaped box that will arrive on your doorstep. A pre-release unit is similar to a final production unit, with a few key differences that we’re still finishing. Also, we’ve made some changes to the Glowforge product since we started - we want you to know exactly what you’re getting so you can make sure it’s still right for you.
If you choose to receive a pre-release unit, it will remain our property. We might need to make changes or improvements. We will replace it later with the production unit you ordered. If we ask, you must send it back to us (at our expense). We reserve the right to withdraw this offer of a pre-release unit. Your warranty won’t start when you get a pre-release unit - and any repairs will be on us (although since it’s our unit, we reserve the right to not repair or replace it at our sole discretion). You can’t take it apart, modify it, sell it, or give it away. If you decide you no longer want a production unit, you may return the pre-release unit to us at our expense, cancel your order, and receive a full refund. The pre-release unit and any materials or designs we provide to you are all provided on an AS-IS basis, and any limited warranty that we will make available later does not apply. Pre-release units are Basic, even if you ordered a Pro. They will not include a Glowforge Air Filter yet, so you must have an exhaust connection, such as a 4" dryer hookup or a 4” window dryer vent.
But you can make amazing things on it. You can show all of your friends what it can do. If that’s your decision, we recommend stocking up in chips and salsa, as you may soon have a lot of new friends.
All we ask in return is that you provide us with buckets and buckets of feedback. We’re making improvements every day, and your feedback is crucial to helping us make the Glowforge laser better for everyone.
We’ve compiled a list of what pre-release units can (and cannot) do so that you can decide if getting one is right for you or if you’d rather wait for your production unit. We’ve also listed everything that is left “to do”, so you know what’s forthcoming but not yet released. This is the definitive list of what you should expect from your Glowforge pre-release unit and, ultimately, production unit when we deliver it, not anything we’ve said before by way of interviews, forum posts, or meaningful glances.
The best part, though, is that this list will keep evolving and you’ll watch your Glowforge get better and better, far beyond what we describe here, as we improve the software that makes it possible. Our work is never done!
Here’s what you can expect from a Glowforge pre-release unit:
Design with a pen
Also called “Trace,” this lets you create a design from scratch by drawing, using a printout, or other physical image. Your Glowforge will turn it directly into a printed product, with no design software required.
Done: Yes! We’ve delighted hundreds of folks at Maker Faire with this fun feature.
Bonus: Secret keystrokes can refine your picture to make lines thicker or thinner: hold down either the command key on mac or control key on a PC, then press up and down for lighter and darker. Hold down cmd/ctrl-shift-up or down to make your drawing smoother or more accurate. Click to change engraves into cuts.
You can see what your Glowforge sees, drag your design into place, and preview exactly where it’s going to go and what it will look like. You can switch between cut and engrave settings and look at the difference. Then, when you print, everything lands right where you put it.
To do: Improvements to accuracy when using thicker materials (currently can see offset of ¼"). Speed up the auto-calibration that happens when you send a print. Preview what the cuts and engraves will actually look like in the material you’re using. Optional Glowforge selfies when your print is done.
Bonus: When your print is ready, we show you a high speed preview of the cut file so you can see exactly what the laser is going to do before you hit the button. When you start printing, the software shows exactly what’s being printed and how much time is left, accurate to the second. More secret keystrokes: when you’re laying out your design, hold down spacebar and click-and-drag to pan; ctrl/cmd + or - to zoom in or out.
The precision laser beam on your Glowforge automatically focuses on both smooth and curved surfaces.
Done: Fixed point autofocus, meaning flat materials cut and engrave perfectly. Your Glowforge measures the height of any material you place on the bed at one fixed point. Manual focus, so you can override autofocus and experiment.
To do: Continuous autofocus to cut and engrave curved surfaces.
The onboard cameras automatically detect Proofgrade™ materials to automatically configure power, speed, focus, and other settings. Just pick “cut” or “engrave” and every print comes out perfectly.
Done: Recognize Proofgrade materials and configure power, speed, focus, and other settings automatically, so you can just choose “cut” or “engrave”.
To do: Recognize devices like Macbooks and iPhones. Current materials have visible instead of UV barcodes (UV barcodes forthcoming).
Bonus extra: With Proofgrade materials, you can choose variations like light, medium, or dark engravings.
Print beautiful things quickly, with perfect results any time using premium designs from the Glowforge catalog.
To do: Not released yet.
Print from any device, design program, or file type.
Done: SVG, PDF, PNG, and JPG compatibility. Print from any major browser on desktop. Some tablet and phone support. Convert most file types to be compatible with Glowforge software with Inkscape.
To do: Bugs on tablet & mobile. Add support for many more file types. Fix some PDF and SVG import bugs. Adobe Illustrator plugin.
Just one plug
All you need is a standard household outlet (120 volts, 15 amps, with 800 watts of available power) to use your Glowforge.
Cameras make sure your print goes precisely where you put it, for easy layout and double-sided engravings.
Done: Both lid and head cameras are dialed in to make the system easy to use. The system regularly auto-aligns itself with the onboard cameras.
To do: Improved positioning accuracy and double sided engraving.
Precision within a kerf
The Glowforge software automatically compensates for the hairsbreadth thickness of your laser beam to make everything fits the first time.
To do: Not released yet. When we turn it on, there will be options for both Proofgrade and other materials.
3D high-res engraving
1,000 DPI resolution & variable depth relief engraves with multiple passes.
Bonus: Stunning photo engraves and 3D engraves. We dialed it up to 1,355 DPI instead of the 1,000 DPI we promised. It looks incredible already and we’re still improving it.
Safe for schools
Done: Glowforge Basic is certified by the CDRH as a Class 1 Laser.
To do: Additional 3rd party certifications.
Air Filter upgrade
Print from any room without outside ventilation
To do: Not released yet.
Bonus extra: Air samples from our early Air Filter units are testing even cleaner than commercial units we’ve been testing that cost five times as much.
Print with dozens of natural materials.
Done: Yes, BUT: after extensive research with safety specialists, we recommend only using materials that you are absolutely certain are laser compatible. That includes Proofgrade materials from us and materials from suppliers like Inventables and Laserbits that they ensure are laser compatible. Remember that if you use your Glowforge for anything other than food, you cannot then safely use it with food.
To do: Add the ability to save settings when you use non-Proofgrade materials.
The Glowforge Pro model has advanced cooling, optics, upgraded laser tube, & a passthrough slot.
To do: Not released yet. If a Pro user is in line for a pre-release unit, we will offer them a Basic pre-release unit and upgrade them later.
Use a laser rangefinder to measure the height of the material surface.
Done: Yes! (with an accuracy as high as four one thousandths of an inch)
12" x 20” working bed. Maximum thickness of material with tray installed is 0.5”.
Done: 18" deep by 20.4” wide working bed. Printing area of 10" deep x 18.5” wide. Maximum thickness of material with tray installed of 0.5”, maximum thickness of material with tray removed is 2”. Focus range of 0.5”.
To do: When the laser is moving at maximum speed, it needs room to slow down near the top, bottom, and both sides. We’ll be updating the software to compensate for that so it can give you more working space - up to 11.5" x 20.4" for slow movements like cuts; a little bit less for faster motions like engraves.
Bonus: Our original specs for thickness were only 1.5" with tray removed - we were able to increase that to 2.0” for you.
Two five-megapixel cameras, one wide-angle in the lid and one macro in the head.
One Button Print
Print from the web interface, then click the beautiful pulsing button to confirm.
Bonus: RGB LEDs make for a gorgeous multihued button.
Work from anywhere with an internet connection.
Bonus: If you lose connectivity during a print, no problem - it will finish anyway.
Set up your Glowforge anywhere with strong Wi-Fi signal (2.4 GHz b/g/n). Easy setup from your web browser.
Bonus: Works on slow connections. If the connection comes and goes, your Glowforge automatically reconnects.
High modulus injection molded plastic case. Custom extruded aluminum linear rails with belt-driven v-wheel carrier. Heat treated glass surface that blocks ultraviolet and infrared laser light.
Bonus: It’s gorgeous.
Linear motion system
Dual hybrid stepper Y axis allows for self-calibration. Single hybrid stepper X axis for extremely precise engraving.
Closed loop self-contained internal liquid cooling.
To do: Finish 3rd party testing to qualify performance in extreme environments.
4" exhaust hookup or Glowforge Air Filter required.
Bonus: Will ship with 8’ exhaust hose.
Dual high-powered internal white LED strips, white LED macro illumination for camera head, UV macro illumination for camera head.
Glowforge uses no more power than a typical kitchen appliance.
Done: Peak power consumption is 800W, 120 VAC, so it can work from a standard outlet.
Built-in sensors prevent access to infrared laser light. If the lid is opened, the laser will turn off immediately.
Bonus: The Glowforge app will tell you when your lid is even slightly ajar.
Let’s do this
Now you know what’s in the box. If you can’t wait to get a Glowforge 3D laser printer pre-release unit, as described above, please reply back to us to let us know. Once we hear back from you, we’ll send you the Pre-Release User Agreement, collect your shipping address, and prepare your Glowforge for shipment!
Regardless of what you decide, thank you - as ever - for being a customer.