Making the Glowforge Clean and Quiet

Hey Everyone-

Today we are here with some knowledge rather than a project. As many of you know, we have had our Glowforge for a while and share a lot of fun projects with you all. We recently started having smoke/exhaust issues, so we called our friend Josh at PNW.MADE. Here is a link to his Instagram account. If you don’t know him, you should! https://www.instagram.com/pnw.made/ He is a laser cutting master and a super nice dude.

In our call with him, he showed us where all the fans were and the best process he has found to clean them. He also made us aware that his machines ran quietly. Blown away by this idea, we had to upgrade our machine immediately. So, we bought the fan and went to work!

We genuinely thought we had good Glowforge hygiene but we were instantly proven wrong. In this video, we go over how to really deep clean the machine and how to make it super quiet. Our Glowforge is in our home office so it used to be a huge annoyance to run it during the day. I can happily say that now, it just sounds like a box fan running in the window. It’s insane.

I want to point out that our machine is out of warranty at this point. If your machine is in warranty, I wouldn’t recommend doing anything outside of Glowforge’s official recommendations for noise suppression and cleaning. This is just how we do it here at When Geeks Craft.

Want to talk more about Glowforge or making things in general? Join our discord server: https://discord.gg/gwVqCCp .

Below are Amazon Affiliate Links to tools used in this build. Using these links don’t cost you any extra, they just help us feed the cats and leave the lights on:
Acid Brushes - https://amzn.to/2KWYooI
TerraBloom ECMF-100, 4" Inline Duct Fan - https://amzn.to/2z1GjDl
4 inch 8 feet Non-Insulated Flex Air Aluminum Foil with 2 Clamps - https://amzn.to/2KWGp1y
Additional 4inch Clamps - https://amzn.to/2KZ1to0
4 inch Blast Gate - https://amzn.to/3aWmY3v

If you have questions, Let us know!
Nicole C - When Geeks Craft

19 Likes

Absolutely - my ears love my inline fan!!

So, here’s my experience.

I put a 6 inch fan on, with 6 inch ducting from start to finish, except for a 4inch to 6inch adapter right at the GF exhaust. Most US users seem to use the same fan - the price in the UK was stupid, so I got a clone of the same unit.

I also mounted the fan on a foam base - with the fan directly attached to the desktop as you have it the whole desk is actually acting like a huge sound board. Better not to fix it to anything if you can avoid it.

My fan and GF are on the same mains socket, which is a smart plug controlled by Alexa. I turn the smart socket on and the fan and GF start at the same time. I would worry with an separate control on the fan that I would forget to turn it on.

This means you get a better flow of air through the machine.

I also removed the internal fan entirely using 2mm ball head allen keys - three of the screws are easy, the last takes 10 minutes of patience because it’s really difficult to get at.

I made a post elsewhere about cleaning the large fan assist on the back of the print head - the scoop underneath it fills up with junk and needs clearing out every now and then.

One caveat about the external fan. You may need to clean the lens and mirrors more often.

I suspect the external fan doesn’t quite pull the air out so vigorously as the inline fan. I have noticed my print head lens and mirror getting dirtier more quickly since I’ve switched to the external fan. Be interested if any one else has seen similar.

I repeat to anyone who has not done this - the difference in noise level is absolutely astonishing.

Your GF goes from being a painful experience to a delight. My GF is about 3 feet from where I sit, with that inline fan right next me - it would be painful. Now I run all day long without noticing it at all. It’s quite fun listening to the “singing” of the GF as it makes different shapes.

4 Likes

I think my optics stay cleaner longer, but I had also cut out the exhaust fan grill to remove that obstruction to airflow.

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yea i never thought to remove the old fan. on the next clean we are going to for sure. THE SOUND THOUGH…OMG. so much different

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I had gotten this one just because it was the highest CFM in this configuration I could find that wasn’t significantly more expensive. My purpose was that I had a longer run of ducting and wanted to compensate for air flow loss over that distance.

Does anyone know what the CFM of the actual fan is rated for?

1 Like

It’s around 200 CFM if I recall. My run is long enough to need two boosters and they are both rated 195. I had to seal every joint and seam on the standard 4" vent pipe I used with caulk. Zero smell.

2 Likes

can you send a picture of your fan grill cut out. I see wires all next to it.
eloise_ramos@yahoo.com

If you still have any warranty left you shouldn’t do it in my opinion.

Tap on the picture to see both images.

1 Like

Adding the external fan helps noise a lot, but removing the fan entirely is that much noise reduction a second time. It’s intimidating since you have to remove the side panel to access it, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re past warranty (or at the point where you won’t use the machine due to noise).

From what I have heard, you just have to click the indicator in your glowforge app that you have the air filter attached. This turns the fan off allowing you to run the external alone. No need to remove the fan.

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Clicking the switch in the app stop the fan from getting power, but it still spins freely from the airflow making a huge amount of noise. It’s not the motor of the fan that makes the noise, it’s the blades spinning at high RPM. With an external filter unit that noise will still be the highest decibels and you reduce ~10db getting rid of the fan completely.

An unpowered fan is a major obstacle to airflow, despite the fact that it will turn with airflow. I would not recommend anyone under warranty remove the fan, but anyone past that point should consider it (if using an external fan.)

Ah ok that makes sense. Thanks for clarification!

So with my warranty in tact, should I wait to make the switch to install the external fan? Or just wait to remove the internal one? What would you recommend? I have about 6 months to go but heavy, daily use.

I can’t advise doing anything that would prevent you from getting the unit repaired.

The fan on the Basic and Plus, however, would be trivial to remove and replace later if the machine was going to be sent in.

It’s a difficult situation. These machines were not designed to deal with the debris from that amount of heavy use.

1 Like