Investigative photography at Maker Faire 2016 - Bay Area

Yeah, we have a few other MakerFaire report threads already. But having the large picture dump at the opening makes it a lot nicer for people who don’t read the forums as often.

This was my first chance to see the GlowForge, so I went hog wild and attempted to make sure that anything which I was interested in got placed on camera. Sadly I started the process out with a GoPro, and had only just recently acquired an LCD screen for the guy to start using it as a camera stand-in. This was a mistake, and I did not get many of the shots that I thought I got. So my Friday when I had nearly zero crowd to deal with was lost. I went back Sunday and attempted to re-create most of the images that I noticed were missing.

First… say “hi” to @dan:

The Forge

I did a fairly slow pan of the outside of the machine so that if someone asks for a random obscure angle that I did not think to catch, maybe I get it anyway. Sadly I did not think to do this on Friday when I had easy access to all sides of a machine at once, so instead I stood on my tiptoes and craned my phone hand all over the place without being able to see precisely where I was aiming.

First angle is up until 1:08, when I stopped recording because I couldn’t get to the other side of the machine. Then I realized I was between two machines, so had the other side of another Glowforge immediately available, so I took a second video (and spliced them together) to get the right half of the Glowforge.

Highlights of the Forge that I took shots to report back with (some are more pixelated than others because I cropped these down for file size issues with uploading. Some are more blurry than others because I am an amateur with a camera)

The button. It isn’t THAT notable, nor unknown. But it is about to be the center of our lives…

The ventilation connection, with ducting installed. Not sure if we have had a nice image of this on the forums yet, I remember we all wanted one for quite a while:

Power. Technically, we have more input than just one button on the machine. This one is a switch, so saying there is only one button remains correct. But as the engineering department likes to inform cocky captains of Nuclear Submarines “You cannot launch any nuke without my permission… Sir”

And I outlined in red (hope it shows up) the two areas where a little material needs to be punched out to enable the passthrough slot. On the Basic I am sure that opening those spaces would not be as easy as it would on these demo machines, since they are the casing of a Pro, but the pass through remains blocked up so the laser can be Class 1 and go to conferences easier.

These little rubber feet and the solid aluminum brace they rest on save us from alignment worries, as well as make it possible to safely move around our wonderful machines:

These two interlocks are what keep us safe from ourselves. Magnets on the lift up lid (left side larger black one) and on the lift down bay door for removing the honeycomb (right side smaller chrome magnet):

And these shots show us the amount of “extra space” around the cutting area for our slightly too large projects (if we assume that the full honeycomb is the full cutting area at least):

I personally was curious about lifting the unit, as well as where the filter attaches. So I asked if I could lift one. That was a solid “No!” (understandably). So instead I got some shots of the bottom lip and the feet of the unit:

The promotional video showed the lid being raised nicely to get a concept of how it splits between the two doors, but I had been curious about the depth of the door itself.

Dan said that there would be a cover on this small gap, but I attributed much of the little scent I could pick up from the cuts to this gap in the back (a necessary gap for the hinge to work):

And finally the shots that most likely nobody else got… I had Dan pull out the honeycomb for me. I had thought that the crumb tray and honeycomb were two different pieces, but they are one and the same. So if small things fall through the gaps in the honeycomb, you pull out the whole thing and tap or blow it clean. But we also get to see the metal below the tray, and possibly the first shot outside of the promotional video with the front panel fully open.

The Products

There were quite a few lasered products on display. I decided to show a few shots of the Glowforge official ones, and not to include the hundreds of shots I took throughout Maker Faire for inspiration. Loads of the things on display all over the place were made with a laser, or could have been.

This lamp was my favorite of all of them though. Everything except the light and wires for it was laser cut by the looks of things. But the little lever on the bottom can be slid back and forth to control how much light gets out. I even took a short video of it on accident (I really suck with using a GoPro for photography):
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The last one I have comment on is the flag from the top of the Space Needle: Instead of two layer acrylic, which would only have two-tone from one side, they press-fit white acrylic into Glowforge Teal. You can see the small gaps around the fit still:

Not a Glowforge official, and a bit pixelated since I cropped so small… but I got a closeup of a kitten someone drew and cut, this was at a purposeful angle to show the depth of the engrave:

Now I will just dump a bunch of shots of their other material without comment:

Well, okay… one comment. Dan had to point out that the rack of earrings is all ONE design, but since it is done on multiple materials it sure looks like a nice assortment of different earrings (at least to fashion blind me)

The Competition

Since they were at the Faire as well, I checked out some of the other machines people commonly say they will get when dropping out of the waiting list here. I did not notice any K40s in booths which had laser cut wares on display, I did see a redsail (pretty sure), but didn’t stop to take pictures of it.

Full Spectrum H Series: This machine doesn’t have a bottom, so I am mildly surprised they were able to use it at the Faire. Maybe they never actually powered the machine up. Lack of bottom is nifty, you get essentially limitless Z height, but still have the limit on focal depth. The machine doesn’t have strong enough motors to run in any way except horizontal, so no strapping it up against a wall to carve an awesome mural piece by piece.

Not a fan of the beam combiner approach for positioning. But basically everyone uses that, and it does work. Better than nothing at least. The machine is certainly light, so more portable. But the tube is not well protected, so not very portable. And of course, it is impossible to fully contain the fumes/smoke. And there are quite a few optics to deal with keeping clean (including the beam combiner for the positioning):

Epilog… They didn’t have the Zing on display, at least not that I noticed (but I do have shots of two machines, so maybe the big guy just distracted me too much to realize what the second one was). So I got shots of their beastly and expensive machine. They were cutting out acrylic robot things on demand. I didn’t ask if moving the bulk sheet would make it hard to re-align for future cuts. I really should have. Pretty sure they put it in at an angle on purpose.

Voccell was the last laser seller I noticed. They were in a completely different building, so I assumed that they were selling the laser cut goodies, not the laser itself. Their documentation was very much trying to set themselves up as competition to the Glowforge. So the NDA and other “We are waiting to reveal that” steps that the company is taking are well warranted:

Since I didn’t realize they were selling lasers, and had the wife and kids with me, I didn’t spend a long time figuring out what exactly they offer. Chiller, ventilation and air assist included in the price tag was a nice feature. But overall it was just yet another laser to me with so little chance to poke for details and ask what makes them unique. They did have lots of pretty laser cut parts around their booth (but so did hundreds of other booths)


Great write up and great sleuthing! :smile:


awesome write-up. i almost feel like i was there. :slight_smile:


Thanks so much for doing this write-up!


So much goodness on this one thread! Thank you for capturing and sharing so much! THE ANTICIPATION IS KILLING ME!


Thank you so much for this!!! My mouth is watering in anticipation!! Haha!


Good job!

Really liked the, undocumented, video of the honeycomb coming out! :wink:


Cool photos! Did you notice how long the dryer hose was? I’ve not been able to find that spec anywhere, just the diameter. I’m going to have to get creative with my window vent setup, and dryer hoses aren’t super common here (bc dryers aren’t!). Also, where did the hoses vent at the faire? :fog:

It’s a 4 inch hose, eight feet long. (Dan mentioned it in that live feed that they did after the announcement.)


I doubt these ones were 8 feet long. They went from above the table to under the table.

Your hose should be as long as needed for your space. With the caveat being not to be TOO long, but where that definition comes into play may be the 8 feet @Jules mentions, not sure.

An excessively long dryer hose means that the fans won’t be strong enough to force the air out to the other end. So the GlowForge won’t maintain the negative pressure desired to keep all of the smoke inside the unit.


Oh yeah, I’m sure he meant the hose was eight feet extended - they tend to bunch up a lot smaller than that, and you can cut them smaller if needed.
(But depending on how far from the window you are, you might need the full eight feet to reach it, which was why i asked about the extended length for the live feed.) :relaxed:

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My memory recalls the hose spec being eight feet of hose with two ninety degree bends. It is based on the exhaust fan(s) they are using.


The two 90 degree bends were just something folks were talking about buying separately to get the unit closest to a wall as possible. The package will only have a flexible hose similar or exactly like a dryer vent hose. Don’t know whether it will be metal or plastic.

Edit: Oh I think I understand what you meant now. That the specified exhaust flow assumed 8 ft of hose with two 90 degree bends. Yes. Can’t remember an actual post but that might be accurate.


They are including a hose. :grinning:

Indeed, but when I googled ‘standard dryer hose’ the length appeared to be varied. I can’t go to the store in the US and check myself, but I suppose I could have sent a minion…

Holy cow! These photos are great. They answered questions I had only vaguely thought about – like how I would clean little bits from the honey comb tray. I didn’t even realize it would pull out like that. They just though of everything. Lol.

I know it’s not really important, but the glowforge is way prettier than those other lasers. Even the button is prettier. Although, with that one laser you can pretend you’re launching missiles during the cold war. Which I guess is pretty fun in it’s own right.

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I suppose there are stores (Walmart maybe?) that sell pre-cut lengths. But home repair stores that I am familiar with sell hose at whatever length you ask to have it cut, then charge you by the foot.

I was just brainstorming this morning how cool it would be to do acrylic letters set into hardwood as a sign to hang on the front door. My wife is big on decorating for each season, so I’d do different color letters for each holiday (red and green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, etc.). Cool to see Dan and the guys use the concept for the glow forge flag!


Wow. Excellent report. Very thorough and enjoyable to read.


I’ve done that actually. Well not the color changing part but you could easily do it with flat magnets and thin metal…
I;ll have a looksee if I can find a pic of it.