Introducing Snapmark (September 2018)


#1

What is Snapmark?

Snapmark is a new, experimental feature. Unlike everything else we’ve released, this was not a part of our core feature set - it’s wasn’t part of our original software commitment to deliver to you. For that reason, we haven’t yet decided how it will be released after the beta period is over. It might be a part of the Pro package only, it might be a premium paid software offering, or it might be something else entirely. In fact, we haven’t even decided if we’ll keep it as a feature when beta testing is done - we’re doing this beta release so we can learn more. The beta release will also help us perfect our Pro Passthrough software for Glowforge Pro customers.

First, some disclaimers:

  • As an experimental feature, it will only be supported in this forum thread. Our customer success team won’t be able to answer questions about it.
  • We will only turn on Snapmark software for some customers while we’re testing it.
  • We know that Snapmark is a complex, advanced feature; if it’s too confusing or hard to use, we’ll remove it or change it before releasing it.
  • We would love your feedback - how it works, is it useful, is it confusing, is it fun? Just leave your comments right here.

Now with that out of the way… I think it’s amazing. It’s a way to do “mini mass production”, customizing dozens of items at once, over and over again. It lets you do multimedia work, combining traditional inkjet or photo prints with laser cutting. With a little effort, it lets you use the Pro Passthrough even better than before. It’s the result of tremendous work by our engineering team over the period of years on many different subsystems. It gives alignment accuracy down to less than a millimeter. It’s pretty magical.

How Snapmark works

Snapmark software precisely aligns two different prints using Snapmark markers (technically called “fiducials”). Imagine you’re engraving hundreds of pencils with people’s names. Previously, you had to manually drag each design to align with each object, or affix a jig to the bed.

With Snapmark, you can print a template to hold your pencils that has a Snapmark in each corner. Then, you can put your pencils in the jig on the Glowforge bed, and automatically “snap” your design to the right location. Each pencil will be engraved precisely - accurate to within a millimeter.

You can use Snapmark in other ways too. You can snap a cutfile to an inkjet printout to create amazing papercraft designs. You can even use Snapmarks to align Pro Passthrough prints more easily

Who tests Snapmark?

Short answer: we’ll roll it out gradually. Some customers may not get it for a long time based on technical considerations, and we may cancel it before everyone gets to try it.

Long answer: Each Glowforge goes through a rigorous calibration process at the factory, where we take measurements of each major sensor system. To enable Snapmark on a machine, we process the calibration data through new server software so the Snapmark measurements can be made precisely.

This process takes a long time, and some units take much longer than others. The calibration software is still being developed, and some units have noisy calibration data that won’t process without further work. Testing Snapmark will speed development of Pro Passthrough and other forthcoming vision features by providing real-world calibration data.

We’ll roll Snapmark out to the easiest devices (Basic, Plus, or Pro) first. If all goes well, we’ll add progressively harder ones over time. The full process may take weeks or months to fully deploy (we’re still learning)! We may also decide to change plans and modify or remove the feature before we roll it out, so not everyone may have a chance to test the feature.

If Snapmark had been rolled out to your machine, you’ll see this button on your toolbar:
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If you see it, come back to this post, which will be updated with instructions on how to use it.

Finally, we’ve had this available to a small number of customers for a while to help us shake out the biggest bugs before we announced it more widely… some of their creations follow.

Finally: when the rollout starts (likely next week), we’ll update this post with instructions and a tutorial.

This is a new experiment for us, so thank you for your patience as we figure out how to make it work best for all of you.

Update 9/14/18: Snapmark Tutorial

We’ve posted a tutorial to get you started using Snapmark here. It starts you off with a how-to on customizing a batch of pencils! (To be easily shared among your friends.)


September 2018 Update
October 2018 Update
Discussion of September 2018 Update
Snapmarks Not Scanning
I need help for alignment. I have snap mark. Wedding project
Problems with Snapmark Update
I give up on snapmarks. They just dont work
Snap marks- scanning for them then scan disappears
Notes on Working with Snapmarks™ :thinking:
Notes on Working with Snapmarks™ :thinking:
Snap marks- scanning for them then scan disappears
Everyone who participates in this FORUM should be able to get the SNAPMARKS- Agreed?
Notes on Working with Snapmarks™ :thinking:
"Not Enough Snapmarks" error
Alignment issue and camera blur
Is it 'Snapmark' or 'Snapmarks'?
Snapmark not exporting from Inkscape properly
Snapmark issues
UPDATE: SOLVED: No matching Snapmarks no matter what I try
Snapmark disappeared
Extremely slow
Snapmark E-mail received but no magnet icon?
Snapmarks
Hanging on Start up Daily with Centering, Scanning and Homing
Printer head behaving poorly with Snapmarks
#2

Hooray, can’t wait!


#3

AWESOME!!! This is going to make my life so much easier !! Thanks Dev Team GF!


#4

This feature sounds great. I hope you will make it available to non-pro users.


#5

This will make engraving on the back side much easier.


#6

This will make my engraving my pen barrels a lot easier… Can’t wait for it…


#7

It’ll make it a snap.


#8

I’m looking forward to this. I’ve put several projects on the back burner waiting for an improvement in placement accuracy.


#9

Please don’t make that a pro only feature. I could so use that feature right now.


#10

This would save me hours!! Wow! :heart_eyes:


#11

Precision optical alignment was an original commitment if I recall? So far we have ~0.25" precision which isn’t exactly what was assumed to be coming. Snapmark seems to deliver on that original premise (albeit in a different manner, but works really well. About to post a new project using it tonight).


#12

Ditto on cditty–this would be so beneficial to a lot of work I do, too, for my business, and would love to get this feature on my basic unit.


#13

this. the snapmarks help make up for the lack of true measured alignment based on precise location.


#14

WANT! Want MUCHO!


#15

Yes, and the underlying Snapmark technology part of our work towards making visual alignment better across all units. The specific Snapmark feature has a different set of strengths and weaknesses than visual alignment, though. Snapmark is more complex to use than simple visual alignment, but faster for repeat use once configured.


#16

The Snapmark feature is great. I have been very pleased watching how the testing has progressed. I’ve seen the team be responsive to the issues users have discovered, and meaningful updates have come out in very reasonable timeframes. I wish all of us who have groused about the pace of development could have seen Snapmark from the beginning, because it was awesome to see feature development with community participation humming along.

These are big issues and it is too bad that they could not have been resolved before the announcement. To bill a feature as “magical” but also say that it might not even be released… Or that I may have to purchase it for an unknown price… That is a heck of a mixed message and it certainly changes my interest level in learning how to use the feature.

The Glowforge is a complex, advanced tool–please don’t be overly conservative in protecting us from complexity. The Snapmark feature, bugs aside, isn’t any more complex than some other Glowforge tasks that we already deal with and it unlocks substantial new abilities. I would hate to see it cut for being hard to use, because without it, we’d fall back on techniques that are even harder to use… or, just not do those tasks.

The best features are easy to use, but also reward increased commitment… the Glowforge is already like that. I hope Snapmarks are here to stay.


#17

huh, after doing an order of 100 spoons recently that required a jig without the crumb tray and needing to redo the top cut that holds the spoon in the jig 4 times because the glowforge didn’t quite re-zero its self the same and being unable to do any other jobs in the mean time I’m literally pricing out a new laser on my lunch break with the price being “ok it will cost me $XXXXX once I sell the glowforge”.

This feature would actually be really useful for some upcoming projects and orders; I might keep the glowforge for straight cutting jobs and not sell it. However, knowing the pace that new stuff gets released to the non-beta testers around here… I’m pretty positive I’ll have a new laser by then


#18

Continuing the discussion from Introducing Snapmark (September 2018):

Yeah, that seems to be the key here, is that snap mark is for “generated” projects, i.e. made in CAD or AI, Inkscape, etc… vs. I want to put this image on that already existing thing where simple optical placement works. Since almost everything I do is from CAD, I don’t mind setting up the marks, but I understand why not everyone would want to. For the current project which is a 48" wide oak sign for a barn, which of course had to be split into chunks using photoshop’s slice-selection/divide slice feature, the marks are super easy, plus I needed to make a ghetto crumb tray since I accidentally sent mine back to support with my warranty service (since the other 4 times you guys wanted everything back), So I just made a homemade tray with marks already on it.


#19

whoa, I guess you can really have too much @Dan. Not sure what @discourse was doing there…


#20

If snapmarks are released as a paid feature before I can accurately position things with the camera… Yea I’d be selling my GF asap as that is the type of company policy I despise.