Let's list the benefits of the removable laser head, as it pertains to laser cutting!

There is another thread (linked below) where I said the removable laser head has dubious value to the laser cutter we were promised. @marmak3261 mentioned that it makes cleaning the window easier. I won’t deny that that IS a benefit, I hope I didn’t come across as thinking the removable head has absolutely no value what-so-ever. The ease of cleaning is actually the only benefit that I was able to come up with on my own before making my statement.

The window that the laser passes through is on the bottom of the head. Cleaning that window would mean holding a cloth on our fingertips, reaching under the head, and wiping the window - a bit of a digital contortion act that we will be able to avoid thanks to the removable head. I figure there must be some other benefits that I’m just not seeing, so I’ll reach out to the other members of this forum to help me learn about all of them.

I’ll see if I can come up with a couple more, just to get the ball rolling…

  • less shipping cost if a head is thought to be not working properly and needs to be returned for service

  • the head could be used as a visual aid when talking about the removable head

Seed thread…


The head has motors and moving lenses. Something goes wrong under warranty they ship you a new one. Snap it in, easy, peazy.


Excellent! Also, as has been pointed out – cleaning the glass is as easy as removing the head, cleaning it, and putting it back in! I love the idea of being able to see exactly what I am doing, do a good job, and put it back together. Also, and I may be in a minority here, but I love the possibilities of future expansion for the use of the machine. And since it has been a design factor from the very beginning and not a matter of scope creep, I have absolutely no qualms in supporting them 100% in this innovation.


Right! In addition to the shipping being less costly, the installation of the replacement would be much easier. This gives me ideas for the other motors in the machine. If they could be easily detached, replacing them could be a lot easier too.


I guess its possible that an upgraded head could have a longer range of focus that would allow you to engrave very uneven objects through the whole range of 1.5" without having to prop objects into the 1/2" focus sweet spot.


Oh man, imagine the possibilities of the future! Since Glowforge is dedicated to delivering the lasers as they were promised before working on future upgrades, I am hopeful that the original design is compatible with all the accessories they create after the preorders have shipped.

It would be quite a shame if a coveted accessory couldn’t be added because of some kind of physical barrier in the original design that could have been fixed if it had only been addressed beforehand (inadequate voltage/current, incompatible hole size or hole placement, not being able to overcome the weight/inertia of the accessory, etc.). But planning for those things would be putting the cart before the horse, and Glowforge doesn’t roll that way.


I use both a 1.5" lens and a 2" lens for different projects. This would be a uesfull reason to have interchangable heads if its sealed and you cant change the lens manually


What/when would a 1.5 versus a 2.0 be used for?


I cut polyester film with the 1.5. Very pricise thinner beam for thin materials.


It’s not feature creep!
@Dan has said it has been in the design from the beginning. It’s just that they hadn’t mentioned it. I’m sure they have some very good reasons for having it. There is no indication at all that it has caused any of the Glowforge delays.
It’s possible that the removable head just makes manufacture easier and that any upgrades it enables are just a bonus!


easy upgrade path to glowforge 1.5 attach a new head with longer focal range place glowforge on extension base it cuts a perfect hole in the bottom and on you go to cutting thicker material? :wink:


Borrowed this explanation from http://www.thunderlaser.com. There is a picture showing the beam profiles there.

“Generally speaking, the focus lens with long focal distance will produce a more vertical laser beam so it is better for cutting thick material. However, focus lens with short focal distance will produce a higher precision laser dot so it is better for engraving high definition photos and small size letters.”

If variable focus in the GF could be made available with similar beam profiles it would be a significant upgrade…


Hahaha! I like the way you think!

In my 29 year experience making fruit machines (slot machines for the US reader) and nine year experience designing and using 3D printers I can say stepper motors that are correctly rated last virtually forever. A 3D printer puts far more mileage on them than a 2D engraver and I have never needed to replace a motor. The only thing that could wear out is the ball bearings but due to the relatively slow rotation they don’t seem to. They are replaceable anyway.

1 Like

From a patenting standpoint(I’ve gone/going through this process myself), if you’ve got a super awesome idea, and you want to patent it, the ONLY way you’re allowed to is by keeping it to yourself.

If an idea is explained to the public before it is properly filed and the idea/object/process meets it’s first initial checks and gets into patent pending status, it literally defies the “trade secret” definition. Emphasis on the “secret” part.

Having this be a laser first and a vinyl cutter/ 3d printer/cnc mill/etc second, was probably to make this the most powerful it could be up front. I know I’m looking forward to it making good on the 3d printer possible head in the future.


I have no doubt the folks at glowforge have some cool ideas for what the modular nature of the removable head design will allow them to do. Remember, that was part of the original “prototype” that Dan’s co-founder built in his garage that launched this whole thing. While, like @takitus, I’m having a little trouble seeing what all the benefits would be, the fact is this a new design, which means we won’t really know what this means until it starts being actually utilized. Personally, I think we are going to look back on this magnetic head in a couple years and be saying, “man, that was a smart idea, I wonder why no one ever thought of it before!” At least that’s my hope at the moment :smile:


OK, sure, but let’s ignore that and focus on how easy it would be.

1 Like

At some point they could also release a lighter head that could allow for increased engrave speeds.

1 Like

Im also struggling with this concept. In my experience magnets are great as long as you keep them clean. If you set the head on your desk and it picks up a metal file, the repeatability is shot until you clean it again.

We also tried to use magnets for fixture and ran into a longevity issue because the coating of the magnets would crack off over time cause your datum to shift.

So I sure hope it freaking rocks. I just know that its easier to say “look magnets!” than it is to use them properly. I for one will avoid taking off the head at all costs.


Y’all know that the full range is 50mm, almost 2" with the tray removed. Right? - Rich

1 Like