Laser comparison

If you compare glowforge to other lasers on the market, is glowforge a lot slower

To some degrees depends on the price range…not sure how fast the k40s are…firend of mine a big beast that does around 1100" per minute or so…but completely different price class (and market area).
But yeah sometimes the GF feels a bit slow. Still an awesome tool and no futzing with gcode…

Depends on what you’re comparing. For example, if you’re comparing how fast can you cut something out of 1/8" baltic birch plywood, on a GlowForge Pro with the 45W tube you’ll be able to move the head faster than on most Chinese manufactured lasers in the same category because you’re getting more real power delivered to the material (both because the rating is less exaggerated as well as better optics). Actual power density measurement is waiting for someone with the equipment to measure it, but anecdotally this seems to be the case.

If you’re measuring engrave speed where you’re just running the machine as fast as it can go and varying or flipping the laser on and off, I think most lasers can be run somewhat faster to much, much faster than the Glowforge. One of the selling points of some of the Epilog lasers is their nifty motion system that allows them to engrave fairly fast.

The Glowforge doesn’t seem optimized for engrave speed to my eye. The gantry is fairly heavy and there is a fair amount of visible aggregate flex when scoring at high speed and turning corners. This can be mitigated somewhat by better acceleration algorithms and updating the software, but it points to there being some mechanical upper limits.

I think their gantry design looks like it was made with explicit trade-offs choosing consistency and ease of use over speed. I suspect having the tube ride the gantry means that you get a little more tolerance in the mirror positions, for example.


I should mention most of my examples for the consistency vs. speed trade-offs effect front-to-back speed not horizontal back-and-forth speed which dominates engrave. In that direction, they carry perhaps a little more weight than some designs that go very bare-bones on the head, but here there are other limits: how fast can you vary the power to the laser to get the desired output quality (you can cheat if you’re willing to give up horizontal resolution), how fast can you drive the motion system and keep accurate positioning, and what are you willing to give up in terms of engravable area. On that last point consistency comes into it again because the most consistent output result is to decelerate after the scan line, but that reduces your engravable area (the faster you go the more room you need to stop).

True. In operation it’s generally slower than the others I use(d).

But if what you’re comparing is time to successful output then it gets gray. With PG auto settings and the pretty clean & simple workflow and masked & pre-finished PG that does not need post-cut/engrave work to make into a finished project, the GF is faster.

It’s easy to discount the time it takes to sand or clean the staining on non-PG wood or how long it takes to put a half-dozen coats of finish on something but since my objective is to get something that’s finished, the post-operational task times are important.


Yep, the overall ease of use is fantastic. Its not perfect, but quite good. And using PG is a joy for quite a few projects.

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Beauty is more than speed deep.
In laser comparison, I believe Dan said the head has like 8 systems in it. You can yank around a simple exposed mirror and fixed lens a lot quicker than the mass of that head with all of its innovation.
In comparison, also look at the need for external support systems like a chiller or bucket of water with a circulating pump and air assist pump.
Absent the need for a dedicated work station, control software - and the required education to use it, with this machine setup and first use are measured in minutes. All things considered, the glowforge stands apart.

Then there is the price… :sunglasses:

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