Internet access required?

Your recent e-mail said “internet access required.” Does the Glowforge actually access the open Internet, or do you really mean “LAN access is required?” I realize that files and commands need to be delivered to the glowforge via a LAN from some controlling computer, but I hope the glowforge does not require access to the open internet. I’m not too thrilled with the idea of a 40 W laser in my house that can be hacked remotely.

For the LAN, does you infer that the Glowforge is WiFi only, with no wired LAN except via an “adapter,” which I assume is a WAP. This is not terribly secure. Please consider adding a wired LAN interface and a way to disable the WiFi.

It needs to communicate with their computers because a lot of the processing is done on their end.

GF Basic / Pro are WiFI only devices. No ethernet connection. The wireless adapter does support WPA/WPA2.

What he was saying was you can use a Ethernet to Wireless bridge device. In which you can encrypt that traffic between the GF and the bridge. As for how the GF talks to the cloud service- That I do not know. I’d hope they are using either SSL or some form of secure tunneling between the device and google services.

At this point it’s too late to add any additional interfaces. I am sure the electronics have already passed gold master at this point.

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No one else thinks it would be fun to go to bed, and then wake up to a bunch of stuff that has been cut that you have no clue what it is? We could send each other messages by way of cutting.


Texting… with 1/4" plywood

That’s what it would be like to be high-tech Amish


That’s not how it works. Even if a job was sent to your machine. You have to ‘enable’ / ‘run’ job by pressing the button locally on the machine. You can visually see that a job was sent by the pulsing LED behind the button.

I think we have a new game… Glowforge roulette!
Just put a piece of wood in the machine and push the button… you never know what will come out!


Internet connectivity is central, integral and necessary to the operation of the Glowforge. The internet and cloud computer makes the Glowforge less expensive. It makes it easier to operate. One disadvantage of existing laser systems is the software control. Designing software for the Glowforge that runs locally on a computer would add tremendous expense and make it less accessible: too many platforms to make software for. Different versions of Windows, of Mac OS. Then add in the myriad tablets and mobile phones. Yes, it raises the question of security and privacy, but this is no different from any peripheral device connected to your computer or the accessibility of your mobile device. If this is a deal-breaker, the Glowforge team can help you. But this aspect of the Glowforge was front and center from day one. Search through the discussion forums, there have been many conversations about internet connectivity, privacy, rights and other implications.

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There may have been “many discussions” but I did not see them, or any obvious description of this requirement anywhere in the obvious places, so I’m surprised. I have experience with building a Home CNC machine, and I guess this biased me into thinking that the controller would import some equivalent of a gcode file. I don’t really see how a standalone controller that operates on gcode would cost more than the controller in the glowforge. I’m running LinuxCNC on a beaglebone black,and I’ve seen implementations on a Raspberry Pi, so the incremental HW cost on the Glowforge cannot more than ten dollars and is probably more like zero dollars.

That said, I understand that you might prefer to build the control file (gcode or equivalent) in the cloud in order to avoid supporting a zillion different tool chains. That’s fine, but I would prefer that you let me send you my design in an acceptable CAD format and have you send the gcode back as a file.

Not sure which of the interviews with Dan I saw, but he mentioned that the normal laser controllers would have added $500 to the cost. From what I gather, it’s not the axis control that seems is the issue, it’s controlling the variable power of the laser itself in addition to the movement in x and y axes. So whatever heavy lifting there is is transferred to the cloud. Not sure what was on the Glowforge site back when you were considering the purchase. As I recall back at the end of September it was somewhat slim. I came across it in the BoingBoing reference and then watched a few of the interviews with Dan that explained what made the Glowforge unique.

I just spent a few minutes looking, and I am surprised to say that you are right!
It is not obvious from the public facing website that the Glowforge requires a connection to “the cloud” nor that it won’t work without one.
The closest I can find is this old FAQ post:

That said, if you do some searching on the forums here you will immediately see a large number of posts to this effect.

You will also discover that the glowforge itself may not even be running gcode on the board, it is hard to be sure, but there are a number of posts that say the onboard machine just accepts a “motion plan” from the cloud software. I have listened to a podcast (linked somewhere here) in which I believe Dan said specifically that they decided to write their own and not to use gcode, but I can’t remember for certain.

Perhaps this could serve as a suggestion to @dan that some clarification to the outside world might be in order?

Add optical capture and recognition for two cameras, variable focus control for the laser, multiple fan controls, cooling plan, etc. etc.

Actually this would be super cool. Like a secret santa thing. Not when ur sleeping since thats not safe but while watching tv or whatever. But I feel internet forces might invade and we would all end up with either cat or penis projects

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You would have to preload the material as well. I can’t say I would want someone to have remote access to a laser in my home… it is bad enough that it has to be hooked up to the wifi. Remember when hackers could open your CD player remotely?.. now add a laser to it. I would like the idea of a site with awesome designs that your friends and family can sign into and request or click favorite on. That way when you get the materials and time you can make it for them. Or others who want to pay you money for the service.

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Remember, you still need to push to button on the glowforge for anything to happen.
I would really hope that the folks writing the software are not allowing any work-arounds for that!

As an aside, Glowforge has already announced plans to build exactly the sort of design sharing service you are describing.

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Either the Glowforge needs realtime control from the cloud, or not. If it needs realtime control, then I need really, really reliable Internet: If I am in the middle of engraving a steak for dinner :slight_smile: then I don’t want to lose my work before time to eat it. If on the other hand I can use the all-powerful cloud to build a control file than can then run without realtime control, I am in a different situation and things are probably OK.

@dan has confirmed this as well. So as long as you don’t have a 72oz steak, you probably won’t have a problem engraving your dinner :wink:

From what we’ve been told. The cloud servers send control information down to an internal buffer. If the job is small enough and you lose connection the job completes. If not, it pauses and waits for the link to re-establish.

What CD player did you have with no laser in it?! :wink:

In one of the other threads about connection requirements, I had submitted a request for a temporary access PIN system specifically for a secret santa or commission type of functionality. This would allow you to give limited access to your machine to various people.

Though the most common (and sensible) response to that was you could just have those people send you the design file instead of loading it themselves.

There are fringe cases of course where you could still find need of it, so Dan did say it was added to the feature hopper.