Lots of smoke in the Glowforge cabin with the inline filter and air filter attached

I did a simple puzzle cut on my Glowforge with proof grade material and smoke was everywhere. The filter and the inline didn’t seem to pull it out even the fan from the laser printer didn’t seem to be working. I ordered or shall I say I tried to order a replacement filter more than 3 months ago and still out of stock. I can’t vent out of the window where I am so that was the reason for both apparatus. What can be done I have my very 1st real order and am planning for a wedding for this July with orders attached to that. I don’t need the fire department at my house.

Is your fan blades spinning when gf is on? Sone smoke is normal do you have pics ?

I have had trouble at times with pulling the smoke from the cutting area. I finally checked to see if there was any draw from the vent pipe. Inside the GlowForge there was almost none. With the hose disconnected from the GlowForge there was plenty. I turned the machine around so I could look at the screen and fan blades at the outlet from the GlowForge. It had dust and gunk all around the vent screen and the blades. Several Q tips and a shop vac later I had just about all of that obstruction cleaned out.
I turned the machine back around, made sure of all the connections, and cut some pieces that required a lot of engraving. The smoke moved “briskly” toward the fan vent and down into the filter box!


You do want to turn the fan off by picking on the grayed area…

That says you are using the filter.
When using the filter, leave it running for a couple of hours (IMHO it should be running 24/7 to get the most out of it.)

DO NOT cut MDF even proofgrade material as it will considerably shorten the life of the filter. (Proofgrade medium plywood and several other brands have MDF in the center and will kill your filter almost as fast.

Have you turned up the knob on the filter all the way yet?

yeah, i tried to keep the use of mdf down to a minimum. Too many things want to be made from it. Heck even the calibration material calls for MDF. And, as you said, many of the plywood brands, especially 1/4 inch, are MDF core! Oh well :confounded:

You can literally fill the filter cartridge in a single day cutting Draftboard/MDF.

One of the very first filter owners reported that.

“Medium” Proofgrade plywood won’t be much better.

The machine is designed for light hobby/crafting, not production. So a 5 minute print every few days will let the filter last a while.

Actually, the calibration does not do enough to cause a problem as the burn does not go much beyond the masking paper, and if you have it sitting about that is a good use for it.

Otherwise the Light or Thick :proofgrade: plywood does not contain MDF. Light :proofgrade: Plywood is a little bit thinner (.12 instead of .125) but I would have wished it be that from the start.

I have the switch just how it is in the picture

Is there non Proofgrade materials that can be used, I notice even in the cutting the masking and the labels has a lot of burn and sometimes a little fire, not so much that I have to shut it off, but when its running I’m standing near it

I just did that today cleaning the rear fan and the hose, do you think that the hose should be changed it was pretty bunked up

I don’t sell the products I make actually have a huge family, and I saw this and had to have it. I know that sounds crazy but this is my ZEN and when I’m on I’m on maybe two to three times a week and sometimes two weeks go by and I may get on to try something that was created.

1 Like

If this is happening there is not enough air moving and where you see little candle like flames, it where you will find it has not cut through. I spent a long time fighting that problem before fixing it and can now recognise it from just looking at the top of the cut.

If the smoke makes fine lines toward the front of the machine there could be other issues, but if the smoke marks wander to the right or (more usual) to the left they are caused by insufficient air movement and will almost always fail to cut through unless the power is up way too high. That insufficient air movement can be caused by something as simple as a bed-pin up wind or thicker material that messes with the airflow (I frequently put another similar thickness upwind to even that airflow out).

It also can be either the fan at the back of the carriage being gummed up or insufficient amounts of air leaving the machine which results in the smoky room effect you are seeing. If the fan in the filter is running at its highest level then the filter needs to be replaced regardless of how it got that way.

When you put in the new filter try and leave it running most of the time especially at least an hour after the cutting is done. It still fills up shockingly fast, but there is only so much you can do to stretch that out.

i followed your lead and cleaned all areas of the vent fan, q-tips and all blew out the hose which was my husbands suggestion and low and behold less smoke less grinding. Thank you so much for your guidance.


There are a lot of things that give off little smoke or particulates. Inorganics especially like rocks, tile, slate, marble etc as long as chlorine or sulfur is not a part of the chemistry, cannot be actually cut but do leave a mark that can be seen and have no effect on the filter. Metals like steel or aluminium need one of several fluids that react with the metal to leave a mark, or paint (or anodizing) that is engraved away also need little of the filter’s limits.

Thin stuff like cloth or paper do add to the smoke load but very little. Cardboard like from Amazon boxes actually have automatic setting and produce smoke but not in huge quantities. Real leather stinks like you were burning an animal and so uses up the charcoal faster than the HEPA filter, as any cast acrylic also does.

Denser woods are in general less smoky but there are a lot of exceptions. Resinous woods spew a lot of resin, and zebrawood, and some things sold as mahogany have a tendency to burn to ash, as does ash, while oak is nearly as bad as MDF.

I did turn. The fan and the inline on and left it running before i did an engrave which is running now, the smoke is way down and i turned up the filter to its highest level. I now here a little beep sound coming from the inline fans panel. Is there a specific level or program that that item is suppose to be listed I usually just turn it on it goes through a program and ends up on 6 now thats beeping. Uugh!

Before is good but after is more critical as all the new muck is pulled further into the filter instead of piling up at the “door” and this can happen best when it is still fresh but will go on some as long as the fan is running.

It does sound like your filter is close to full.

1 Like

I figured that it is close to full but I tried to pre purchase a filter but there is none in stock and I’ve been checking back for the past few months. I asked customer support but they only asked me to open up the top and take a picture of it, and it does look full. No where else to buy and as i stated I can’t put the hose out the window.

I don’t know how much it can help but you can try running the vacuum cleaner over the top even doing that over time to pry open those “doors” and remove the places that just had buildup on the “entrance”. (imagining the filter as a mass of tiny “caves” that catch all the gunk. Ideally spread down all the walls but often just daming the entrance.:bat:


I’ve done the vacuum thing before in a pinch (Dyson handheld on high) and it gave me a few more hours of cut time. It can work if the goo isn’t too gummy - I don’t cut draftboarf/MDF.

1 Like