Is there a manual to understand Speed, Precision, etc

First, I am new to laser cutting, so please be patient. Is there a document that defines what speed, precision power, number of passes, etc. does or is it totally trial and error to figure this out?

I there an actual manual on the GFUI and what each part does. I have the “Taking it out of the box” manual and the $1k safety PDF. Is there anything else that can help me understand what the settings do and, more importantly, why it does it?



Get a large drink and enter the tips and tricks category from main forum page.
Tons of info in there.

After a day or two of reading you can migrate to other categories.

The above is sort of tongue in cheek, but an actual truth. Tons of info here in the forums.
I have a CAD, art, robotics, and also a 3D background so thought it would be a snap to convert the knowledge. Lurking around here for the last few months has taught me a lot and it also gave me some things to watch out for.

Get a large drink and welcome to the forums…


This is an amazing question. Very glad you asked. Where else would someone post such a question as their first topic and a new comer to the forum. You are asking about speed, power and number of passes in the Problems and Support question which specifically requests that posts refrain from departing from Proofgrade and default settings. which might garner a reply something like, this is beyond the scope of Problems and Support. But most likely didn’t realize this. Who needs a manual for something that is drag and drop, click and print, no questions needed. So in reality, the answer to your question is no. This question might go best in Beyond the Manual (whatever manual that is referring to still needs some work for basic operations and best practices.).

Never fear. The forum is the place for questions like this and I am super eager to help folks figure this out and there are tons of posts that address this question and many like it. You will have to dig and there will be math.

Have you received your shipping information request email? If so, you are close to getting access to the user interface and that will help, especially for understanding workflows technical references, if so, have you gone through the first prints page on the support tab? There is not a comprehensive manual with all this in a format you can download and print that is consistent, up-to-date and comprehensive in the explanation of the Glowforge’s mechanical parts and operation.

There does not to seem to be a good perils and pitfalls manual that explains best practices. The First Prints section in the support, how to, demonstrates a workflow for producing your own custom luggage tag from scratch.

But if you don’t have access to the GFUI then the tutorials are the best place to start.

My advice is to read a few of the basics tutorial that @Jules has curated. Then come up with a design you would like to try. Even if you don’t have any experience in using design software and just post a picture of something you drew on a napkin, we can walk you through the steps.

As to speed, power, passes, different engraving settings. You will not have to know much about this to have success. However, the more you do custom designing on custom materials, the more you need to understand these concepts. But the good news is that it doesn’t take long to see real world results of tests to get the idea. Even some things are fairly easy to comprehend and understand, like, go with the fastest possible and adjust power accordingly. You get an understanding of these settings by doing catalog designs with Proofgrade and then looking under the hood by clicking to manual. The default settings will be visible.

In fact, there aren’t too many esoteric materials that require starting from scratch. You’ll be able to get a good sense of non-default settings from the existing settings that are pre-set for Proofgrade materials.

Good luck and set some time aside for study. In the end, figuring out settings is not that challenging, especially since you can see the defaults.


Here is a direct link to “the Matrix”(no, not that one. not yet anyway.)


I hesitate to correct you, but in fact it is the Made In A Glowforge category where such a request has been made. The Problems and Support category is for staff and helpful people to respond to hardware and software issues. (I know, your point is it shouldn’t be this difficult).


Thank you for the correction. Totally wrong on my part for conflating the issue of the absence of a manual dealing with all the technical aspects and the responses from support that even in Problems and Support say that some questions are beyond the scope of their mission. Or do those responses only exist in the Made on a Glowforge.

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Per @dan:

In other words, don’t hold your breath for “official” documentation. Hence, the direction to read the posts in the forums.

Not an ideal answer, to be sure… But, its the best you’re going to get for the moment, as GF is not making an effort to document the functions of their software/hardware beyond the use of their Proofgrade products and presets.


Here are a couple of links to the calibration templates I developed for my PRU.

The first will help you find the best cutting settings. Right now it’s labeled with the old power/speed units but you can change it to the current format (I’ll do it myself if I can get some time on the laser this weekend).

This one is for engraving. Same caveat about labels.

The posts go into a fair amount of the thought process and approach to finding settings that work for different materials. They might give you a head start on finding settings for materials you use a lot.


Thanks for the collaboration everyone! I’m going to move this to Beyond the Manual so the conversation can continue.

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