Loud Clicking during calibration

Okay… so, I’ve had the glowforge for a few months now, and have used it a few times (not the best artist) and I don’t remember how it started the first time it was used, but now I am concerned.

When I turn on the glowforge and it begins calibrating, It makes a very loud clicking sound, then the laser arm thing moves moves back, and then it clicks a bit more, and then it finishes calibrating as normal. I was worried it was going to break but it stopped, and said ready to print, So… I did. and it printed just fine. everything I printed that day printed perfectly.

Then the next time I turned it on, it did it all over again. loud, mechanical clicking, like a gear is trying to turn and can’t. and again, it printed fine.

Should I manually put the print-head/laser arm thing in the middle prior to turning it on? Have I been turning it off wrong? (just flipping the power switch after everything is done and it’s showing ‘ready’)

I really don’t want to screw this up, and I hope it’s not.

That’s normal. I don’t remember what it is though. Lens going back and forth in its setting maybe? I’m sure someone will pop in with that info though.

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i just wanna make sure it’s not going to strip a gear or something.

Pretty certain the driving motors are magnetically driven so that part shouldn’t be an issue.

that doesn’t change gears being plastic and belts being, well, whatever the belt is made of. it would mean it would loose precision at a minimum, and that would be bad.

There’s loud clicking in the head. I think it does it in groups of four: click,click,click,click, pause, click, click,click,click, pause, click,click,click, pause…

This is normal, it’s messing around with the focusing lens in the head.

Another typical thing is for it to drive the head into the wall. That makes a more grindy sound and you can usually see the head vibrating as the stepper motor tries to drive a step and lose that step because it can move any farther. This is also not harmful to the motor (or the electronics if they’re made well), but in my opinion, could cause unnecessary wear on the hardware (but isn’t going to break anything right this minute).

That part is caused by the Glowforge guessing wrong from the image where the head is and driving it left instead of right. This has been getting better of late because apparently we’re training the neural net that makes this decision. However, in this case, you can work around by turning off the unit. Gently moving the head to the center. And then turning it on. It guesses better near the center, plus the consequences of guessing wrong are less bad and easier to detect.

From your description though, I’d guess that what you’re hearing is the normal clicking of the focusing lens inside the head as it figures out where it is and the limits of travel.


It’s a little unclear as to what sound you are talking about. Here is a quick video of the Lens Motor clicking. Completely normal and happens every time as it should. Just part of the calibration for the head lens motor.

If it is not the head motor but is as shown in the following link then it has happened to almost all of us. Most times the gantry will also move when making this shuttering noise. A recent update is supposed to lessen the number of problem calibrations but not eliminate them. If you move the head to the center prior to turning it on then it shouldn’t happen.

If the sound is something else then I don’t know.


Just added that to the matrix as a comparison. :grinning:

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Interesting. The PRU made no noise like that, but the new one does - howerver, it is in distinct series of three, different from your video… :thinking:

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Can’t remember whether my PRU made the same pattern but my two production machines were the same. It’s loud only because the camera is close to the head.

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well, I’m going to have to turn it on today then, and record it with my phone, because that clicking seems quiet compared to what I remember from the last time I used it (haven’t needed to cut anything). Will update later, assuming it’s not too cold to run it.

Yeah, I got a purple light earlier today after about a minute of engraving. The unit stopped lasing and the head stopped moving. I’m going to assume it was too cold. Brought the GF and space slowly up to temperature and everything has been fine.

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I’ve heard that clicking pretty regularly, and don’t worry about it. In my post about the head bumping against the left edge, I was referring to the head moving a small amount and repeatedly hitting the left side. The sound was much louder and “bad” sounding than in the video you posted.

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Yes, the bumping along the left side has happened to most everyone. The first time I heard it on my machine it scared the bejeezus out of me. Have been told repeatedly by Support that it wasn’t damaging anything, but did what I could to make sure it wouldn’t happen. Haven’t seen it bump along the left side since the update a few days ago.


IKR? After the initial indoctrination you know that sound is not right. The first time that happened I lept out of my chair! A reflection I think of just how dear these things are to us.


Chuckle! If you’ve ever run a 3D printer, you’ll just glance over to see what’s going on.

It’s the sound of a stepper motor skipping steps. I’ve always been told it does no damage to the motor and that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Tonight I decided to look up how a stepper motor works…and…

Nothing to worry about, there’s no damage being done. Glowforge support, and everyone else in the 3D printing world has been telling us the truth.

(It doesn’t damage the motor, it’s not mechanical. We’re hearing a magnetic field shift. They’re designed to do that if they run into a block.)

Cool video in case you’re interested. There are no meshing parts in there. Can’t damage the motor.


So at least I can quit worrying about that now.


I was more worried about the belts and vibration caused issues in the head.

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Belt isn’t moving, the motor is what is thumping.

There are vibrations in the head, but I’ve seen worse ones from the travel movement, so probably not worth fretting over.

I think we can finally relax on the thumping issue. :slightly_smiling_face:

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My head circuit board would get jammed up against the stepper motor knocking the head off it’s magnet. The head plate would vibrate back and forth fairly violently while the gantry was moving forward. Eventually the head would fall back in place from about a 25 degree angle. Wasn’t just the stepper noise that scared me.


Yes. Well made stepper motors are quite durable and skipping steps are really nothing to them. The belts are fairly durable too and the stress on them isn’t a ton more than usual anyway. The difficulty is the physical system that stopped the motion. The carriage and whatever it is running into.

In at least some of our machines a part on the carriage strikes the ribbon cable at the extreme left. The ribbon cable isn’t nearly as durable and while it is just my opinion, it looks like it’d be better not to hit it with the carriage frequently.

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