Keeping Logs

I’m a new owner, and wanting to make sure I get this right I paid close attention to the manual about cleaning. When I read you need to do a cleaning every 40hrs of use I thought what is the best way to track time run? After giving it some thought and consideration I decided to make up a rough Excel spread sheet. The spread sheet keeps growing but initially it started as a record of when I used the machine and how long the project took to print, the record included a running tally rounded to 15min increments and a logic formula giving 1 of two outputs either “OK” or “Clean”. This, I thought was great.

As I began looking into cutting other than Proofgrade material it lead me to manual mode and the importance of records for the setting so I am working on incorporating that into the spread sheet as well.

Just thought I’d post this, it may mean nothing to most but may be an inspiration to others.


The 40 hours is an average, the frequency for your application will depend on how much of what you are burning, some materials are dirtier than others, and I have needed to clean the windows more frequently than 40 hours.

Personally I judge the need to clean by the window under the left side, since the smoke is drawn to the left it is the first of the optics to show any deposit.
I keep a small LED flashlight nearby and shine it on the window. Any deposit is clearly visible. I check it every time I turn the machine on. If the energy isn’t transmitted it is deposited. Residue on the optics gives the infrared energy something to deposit itself on and will eventually burn them.
I may clean the windows and camera 5 times or more before the actual lens needs it.


Thanks, any advise is always helpful. On the LED light, would it be better enhanced using a red light or am I overthinking it here? I have a couple that I use with my telescope and could get more use out of them.

1 Like

Nah, just use regular white light. Although the red would make residue visible, I think it will show better under a brighter source. :wink:

1 Like

Overthinking it. You’re just looking for any debris build up. If it’s there, needs to be cleaned - if not, don’t clean. The left window on the head and the left window on the gantry will be the first optics to get dirty so a quick visual check of that is a good indicator.


Yeah take that 40 hours with a huge grain of salt. I have only cleaned mine once since I received it in 2018. That wasn’t even a “deep” clean as others have described, however I also don’t run it every day for hours on end. I think it’s best to observe the machine and you’ll know when it needs cleaning. A lot of the issues people encounter are directly related to their level of cleaning. Many of the failures that get reported start with “I just did a cleaning…”


OTOH if you’re the type of person to not notice the build-up, or desperately need the machine to function at short notice, then the spreadsheet is a great idea to give you a ding the machine may need cleaning before you use it again heads up :slight_smile:


I clean my lenses when things start not cutting through. If they still don’t cut through, and I know my settings are correct, then I clean the air assist fan. If smoke starts backing up, I’ll clean the exhaust fan (hasn’t happened yet). Other than that, I clean the lid when I can’t see through it anymore, and the laser tube when I feel like watching the pretty pink light. I dumped the honeycomb tray out when we moved across country a year ago. The rest stays filthy, because I used to repair computers and I know electronics tend to like being dirty more than they like people futzing with them. :wink:


I’ve been tracking my laser project settings and times since I got Glow-Zomb. I shared my method and the Google Form I came up with over here, in case anyone else wants to grab this :wink:

Laser Job Tracking with Google - Everything Else - Glowforge Owners Forum

If you are cutting MDF or MDF with veneer (::proofgrade: plywood and some other plywoods) you will need to clean more often, If you are engraving tiles, stone, glass, or marking metals the answer is close to never. Also cutting causes fewer fumes than engraving but in fumes per second, cutting may be worse. So if you want to keep a database you will need to keep track of how much and what materials you are using based on how much and how sticky the smoke is.

Then there is how fast the smoke leaves the machine. An 800 cfm external fan-assist could cut the dirty effect to a tenth that which the regular fan allows.

1 Like

Thanks, ALL parameters and info is greatly appreciated and will be factored in.

1 Like

I have to chuckle at myself on this…Yesterday I started a print and forgot to turn on the Filter before starting the cut, VERY quickly remedied. Ooops, I’m still learning


Aye, and that introduces another big variable, As fast as you are getting goop on the inside of the machine you are also filling the $250 air filter! And that makes the rules play quadruple or more the case as just cleaning. Just engraving MDF can fill your filter in a week, while you can go quite a distance with acrylic, and almost forever with ceramic tiles.


I’ve read that MDF plugs the filter fast so it is in the avoid list as much as possible. So should plywood lean towards the avoided list as well? I played with some acrylics yesterday and am working on a custom Christmas present for my son-in-law that is acrylic but most of my time has been spent cutting plywood

Medium :proofgrade: plywood is about half MDF in the middle so has little difference from straight MDF. Others use other materials from the same material to something like Basswood and that can vary by which wood. I love working with 1/4 Oak plywood as it is Oak all the way and if carefully picked at the store not too terrible with the bonding material or things like knots. But oak is right up there in terms of what it does to a filter, way better than MDF but about the worst by species of regular wood,

Which brings up another point, Some fillers/glues are of little worry while others are about laserproof. Regular Birch plywood is really horrid about this, but Baltic Birch is about the best in this way and Birch all the way through, More expensive than Oak it comes in many thicknesses, and as generic in a good way. Some stuff that is called “revolution” plywood is about the cheapest per sq ft, but not as strong with the nice stuff on just one side, and that thinner than paper, but I use it where the faults are not an issue, I suspect that all the different glues have different effects on clogging but exhaust out my window, so not as critical for me.


Thanks, I’m currently in an apartment but am looking to do a home purchase in late Spring, hence the filter. I did the research upfront so I knew what the cost of running a filtration unit would be but any info to minimize that cost is very helpful. I sort of see it as when a filter purchase comes up I’ll just grab the baseball bat and knock myself in the head after I drop the money on the table.


I was thinking that housing prices would hit rock bottom about then but prices are still going up as well as rents so I am not the best prognosticator in that area.

I’ve been following the market, it dropped in the spring due to the unemployment but is surging right now in parts of the country due to people trying to vacate the major cities to avoid covid. Evictions are going to skyrocket come Jan due to the ending of the moratorium. I’m watching it closely and have been tracking a couple of houses, if they don’t sell through the winter.

1 Like

I think that may be part of the issue here, as things are very spread out in spite of the fourth highest covid rates in Florida it is a lot of folks ideal from those big cities, but growing up folks said that spending a quarter of your income on housing was crazy now most folks are lucky to get by with 50% percent if not over 100% with the employment rate as it is,

Housing market here — a dozen offers day it’s listed (above asking), sight unseen, cash.

1 Like