Large area Engrave issue/request

This may not be the correct place for this but I’m sure it’ll get moved if my guess was off.

I am doing a number of awards that involve a large area of engraving. It looks great in non-smoke materials but is requiring a LOT of post work cleaning effort in the proofgrade woods.

Mostly the problem is the oily soot that builds up when doing a large area deep engrave. If the GF were engraving from the other direction from the top of the image down it would vaporize the smoke build up as it goes. Going from the bottom up it exposes the area and the smoke and oils collect on the freshly etched surface.

It can be cleaned after the fact with an abrasive and some low-grade solvent (expo wipe in my case) but just having a checkbox to run the engrave in the other direction would negate the need for it.
I say checkbox because it may not be a desired function for all engrave jobs.


I also would love an option to reverse engraves to avoid the smoke blowing over the freshly exposed art. I believe @bailey likes the current direction because it makes for better video. :wink:

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Well if there is a toggle for the option then he can still use her cinematic mode. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Her. Bailey is the lady you see in many of the videos :slight_smile:


This one is a popular idea and has been suggested a bunch before, yet no changes have been made and we have no idea why. The hopper is a closely held secret. Keep suggesting stuff though, it’s important that GF hears from everyone and the more times it’s suggested the clearer the need becomes in theory.

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It seems that the GF used to work from top to bottom (see video here: at about the 2 minute mark), but they changed it for some reason. I agree that it would be nice to be able to choose the direction.

They changed it to make videos look nicer, and despite many requests have not changed it back or added an option (both are trivial but I will get flamed for saying so). You can see where the companies priorities are.

Wild speculation follows, or, “remember that I’m just making this stuff up”:

One possible reason I’ve come up with is that maybe it’s more consistent to be engraving a fresh clean surface. This rings a bit true because of their emphasis on PG and wanting engraving to be consistent and easy for all users.

It seems to me that engraving “down” would mean an added variable, as now you have to plow through an unknown amount of gunk, which presumably would be variable based on material and settings.

Other thoughts. AKA even wilder speculation:

Adding a reverse option may run afoul of an overall directive [which may or may not exist] to keep the ui and process simple? Too many fiddly bits is daunting to new or less tech-savvy users.

It may also be more fire-prone to do so?

May also have smellier or more hazardous gasses?

May also lead to a dirtier machine, especially lenses and other head components?

May also “double polymerize” (yes I know not a thing but you get my point maybe) the gunk resulting in a leading edge of supergoo that’s even harder to remove? Think of it like cooking candy, if you cook the sugar too hard it goes from sticky to rock solid.

It may be really hard to change the order based on how they’ve architected the software? Seems simple enough from the outside; may be a nightmare once you know what’s under the hood.

I suppose it all comes down to trusting that the people at GF are smart and acting in the users’ (all of us, of all abilities and needs) best interests. I think there’s tons of evidence of that, it may be frustrating sometimes but these are crazy good machines with overall excellent software.

That being said, please let us reverse the engrave. :slight_smile: it’ll probably come with its own downsides but we may be able to work around them.

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Although I’ve requested this in the past, I’ll gladly add my voice to this and any future request for this until it is done.

Maybe I’m missing something, and if so I’d love to hear a practical reason (company videos doesn’t qualify), but blowing smoke across your fresh engraves is ridiculous.

Please, Glowforge, consider this a huge mistake and correct it.

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I think that hits it on the head. The biggest flame up I saw in 10 months was when I did a second low power run to remove a heavy ‘varnish’ deposit after a deep engrave on some goofgrade wood. That stuff lit up and burned like napalm, with the air assist blowing it like a torch.
The flame, about 2-1/2 inches long persisted for about an inch behind the head before the air assist blew it out. If not for the air assist, there would have been a fire.

Just by changing direction the engineers all but completely eliminated that potential hazard.
The material happened to be one of a Home Depot flooring sample I had been collecting. The only constituent of that stuff I was sure about was the veneer it was named after. I threw the rest of them away.
Glowforge can’t control what material we feed our lasers, but they can make the machine as safe as they can.

I don’t think it was a mistake, I think it was a deliberate choice to enhance safety and limit liability.

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Granted, you’re one anecdotal example, so it’s not exactly a firm trend, but that’s a scary result. The risk/reward curve is really steep on this one, so yeah I bet if GF got that result they would have decided it wasn’t worth it.

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As for the flame, I get those NOW when doing deep engraves on a single pass. Lower power and more passes will prevent it. The smoke, being easy to blast away, does come off with a second pass at low power. As a workaround, I’ve been running a fast low-power engrave.

One of the other things that help the flame to form and stay lit is that there is room for it to do so, which will be the case regardless of direction. Currently, the fan is pushing the flame to an exposed, untreated, and recently burned part of the material. Reverse the direction and the fan is pushing it AWAY from the carbon layer on the fresh cut. The risk of the masking material catching/scorching is higher but in my tests, it has withstood all but the most deliberate attempts to destroy it. (nothing survives full power 100 speed engrave.) Even then a bit of pretreating with a moist cloth provided enough of a heatsink that the masking was intact.

Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll make sure the team gets them.

I’m going to move this to Everything Else to allow the discussion to continue.