May 2021 Update

It’s May. In Seattle it’s sunny instead of grey, and the world feels like it’s changing by the minute.

When the pandemic hit, none of us knew what would happen next. I remember the day we launched Ear Savers to see if we could find some way to work together to help people on the front lines of the pandemic - and was astounded as, weeks later, we’d created and given away more than two million of them together. I was hearing stories from people like you who were purchasing a Glowforge to bring something special home: something that could help them create for themselves, for their family, or for their business.

Personally, I just had my immuniversary - two weeks since the second shot of Pfizer. And this week, I had my first day back in the office. It was bittersweet: it was an absolute joy to work side-by-side with some of the amazing people at Glowforge who I hadn’t seen in a year, or in some cases ever seen in person. At the same time, I missed my wife and kids at lunch.

And with all the change in the world, I can see the change in what the Glowforge community is creating too. More gifts. More wedding decorations. More craft sales. More togetherness and connection - something many of us missed so much.

It may not be over, but it sure feels better.

The best part of my 2020 was seeing your resiliency and care for others. The best part of my 2021 is seeing everyone’s creative flowers bloom together.

And our team has been working hard to support you. Some of the highlights:

  • You can now earn money from your ideas by selling your designs in the Glowforge Catalog.

  • We have to raise our materials prices soon

  • Your Glowforge now has setting for printing on regular copy paper

  • We’ve made it easy to find your old designs by adding the ability to search

Here’s the details!

Creating a Catalog for All of us

This is one of the most exciting announcements I’ve ever gotten to make at Glowforge. Our mission here is “a world where anyone can print anything”. And to make that happen, we need to make it easy to get the blueprints for everything.

We can’t do it by ourselves. We’ve figured out a way to do it with your help - and to help you a the same time.

List your designs, and get paid when they’re printed.

You can now apply to list your designs in the Glowforge Catalog, with the ability to get paid for every time they’re printed.

And that means a lot of people can print what you create.

Want to hear an amazing number? Over the last 5 months, catalog prints increased by 11,200%. That’s more than a hundred times the creativity, the joy, and the desire for more stuff in the catalog.

And some of the newest popular designs in the catalog, like this Pocket Pentominoes Puzzle, this pair of Lotus Shippo Earrings, or this Desktop Pen & Card Holder were created by Glowforge owners just like you!

That’s why I’m inviting you to be a part of this success.

How to do it

Because we’re just getting started, our first designers are getting special treatment. And you’ll be one of the first to get your designs in front of all those Glowforge owners, looking for products to print.

Your Glowforge Premium membership qualifies you to submit designs and get paid for them - it’s another great reason to join. And all the designs submitted this way will be free for Premium members to print (but we’ll pay you when they do)!

To learn more, go to Become a Catalog Designer to learn everything you need to know about how to apply, answer your questions, learn some really great tips for how to photograph your designs, and more.

We want your doorstop

One more thing about this.

Our catalog has intricate rocketships and stunning artwork. We have stylish jewelry and innovative organizers.

It also has a doorstop.

I know, because I submitted it.

It may be humble and pedestrian, but here’s the deal: it costs seventeen cents to make it out of Draftboard, and it prints in about two minutes.

Amazon takes two days and charges seven bucks for the same thing. And my version doesn’t sail halfway around the world on a containership and get delivered by car to your doorstep in a cardboard box filled with airbags.

I’m no artist, no designer, no craftsman - but I can make a doorstop! And I think doorstops can, in a teeny tiny way, change the way the world works… from a world where stuff is made in factories halfway around the world and sailed through the Suez canal, to a world where anyone can print anything.

So after all that windup, here’s the punchline: You don’t have to submit something fancy. Simple is great. Boring is great. Practical is great. Fancy is great too - but doorstops are appreciated, important, and welcome.

Speaking of the price of Draftboard, I have news.

We have to raise prices on Proofgrade materials soon.

Have you been to the store, and noticed those new clear plastic barriers, made of acrylic?

Have you walked through the neighborhood and noticed an awful lot of housing construction?

Did you see my friend Glenn’s viral thread about housing and lumber prices?

The pandemic has made things more challenging in many ways, and one of them has been that acrylic prices have gone wild at the same time that everybody loves lumber. That’s why we’ve been stocking out of so many materials.

And it’s the worst for the highest grades of material. Hardwoods with tight grain and zero knots. Plywood with no voids. Cast acrylic, never extruded. And of course, all the magic that makes Proofgrade fast and easy to use: easy-peel coating, sanding, finishing, and digital encoding to get a perfect print, every time.

I am, plain and simple, not willing to lower the quality of Proofgrade in response to these higher material costs. Proofgrade materials are lab-tested and specially-selected to be the absolute highest-quality pieces for your Glowforge, and I won’t add an asterisk to that by sourcing inferior alternatives.

So we’ve talked through the tradeoffs. We could raise prices, which means we could keep products in stock by paying suppliers more. We could keep prices low, which means we’d regularly run out.

We decided to do both.

We’re going to increase the price of all of our materials significantly, to ensure that we can keep them in stock.

At the same time, we’re going to look for opportunities to buy discounted orders in bulk - and pass the discounts we negotiate on to you.

So you’ll see prices for most things go way up, but we will start having monthly sale prices where we’ll sell selected products at the lowest price we can.

By raising the prices to match our new costs, we can bid more aggressively for the highest grades of lumber, leather, and other products in the now-fiercely competitive markets. Proofgrade will remain the best-possible quality. No compromises or corner cutting (unless you are the one doing the cutting!). You’ll always find your material in stock.

This way, the Proofgrade you know and love will remain the same beautiful, consistent, and convenient material for all of your future prints - and we can offer you the best prices we can find, when we find them.

Become a brilliant papercut creator - at the push of a button.

A few years ago, I wanted to give my wife something very special for our anniversary: a papercut watercolor, inspired by a piece of artwork we had seen in a museum together. The problem: I couldn’t find the art, I don’t know how to papercut, and kindergarten was my most recent experience with watercolors.

Here’s what I did.

First, I found an artist named Stephan Funk who created artwork with a creative commons license that allowed reuse. It had beautiful poppies, which I know my wife loved. I traced the design in Adobe Illustrator. I added some words that were meaningful to our family in the middle (removed from this picture).

Then, I spent ages trying to figure out the right settings to cut the paper.

Once I finally sorted it out, it was easy. I printed two of them. I taped the first one down on top of a sheet of watercolor paper, and treated it like a coloring book: I just painted through the openings. (I bought some ridiculously expensive watercolors, which wound up being the most expensive part of the present - but they look amazing). When I was done, I threw away the first papercut, and put a second, clean papercut on top of the watercolor. Yes, I could use a fancy papercut like a paint-by-number template, because my Glowforge made it easy to make another one!

I put the whole thing in a simple picture frame, and that was that.

That’s why I’m so excited to share that we have updated your Glowforge with the settings for flawless cutting, scoring, and engraving on regular 20 lb copy paper.

Glowforge Premium users have been using this already with Early Access, and now we get to roll it out to everyone as part of your free Glowforge Print membership.

To get the cut, score, and engrave settings for paper, when you open a design, just search for 20 lb COPY PAPER in the materials menu.

If you’re looking for something to try with your new found super-paper-powers, try the Made with Love Gift Insert. You can add it to your next Glowforge gift to share both your love and your laser powers. A tip we discovered during Early Access: pieces can fly away. Before you print, use masking tape to stick the corners of the paper to the crumb tray, and as always, watch the print carefully.

I love how the team has made it easy to do what took me so long. My kids have all kinds of plans for this spare ream of paper sitting under my desk!

Search your designs from the Dashboard

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for anything that makes everyday use of our software easier. I know it sounds geeky, but menu redesign or layout change can really make my day.

So we’re making it easier for you to find designs on your Dashboard. By default, your designs are sorted by the last opened date so that you can see your most recently used designs first. Now with search, it’s easy to find your designs by title.

To search your designs, on the Dashboard, scroll to the bottom of your designs and click View All. The search box opens at the top of the page above your designs. Type the name of the design you want, then press Enter or click the magnifying glass to search.

Improved camera performance

A new firmware update improves communication with the cameras on your Glowforge. That can help pictures to load faster. The firmware will update automatically the next time you turn on your Glowforge - you’ll know because after it’s been on for a few seconds, it will pause and restart to apply the update.

Bigger print panel on the right hand side of your workspace

Next time you print, you may notice that the Print Panel on the right of your workspace looks a bit different. We’ve made this panel a bit more spacious so it’s easier to read messages on any device.

New manual setting for focus height

Alert: Super geeky advanced feature here that you’ll probably never use!

Thanks to your feedback, we’ve added an option to the manual print settings that lets you turn off autofocus and manually select the focus heigh you want.

Set FOCUS HEIGHT to Manual, and then enter the height you want for your print. The height is measured in inches as the default, unless you have selected centimeters as the default measuring unit for your Glowforge. (To see your default measuring units, in the workspace, click the 3 dot More menu.)

And that’s our May

That’s what we’ve been up to in Seattle, in between enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company. Most of us are still working remotely (our office is organized for a small number of people to work socially distanced right now) but we’re finally starting to be able to reconnect. It’s a feeling I’ve deeply missed.

I’d love to hear about what it’s like for you in your neck of the woods. If you create things for your community, what’s changing lately? If your business is powered by Glowforge, what are your customers loving? I can’t get enough of these updates – seeing your successes makes me feel the kind of deep-down joy that’s been hard to come by this past year. More of that feeling, please. I’m not sure we’ll ever go back to exactly what life was like before COVID, but I’ll tell you what: I love seeing the people I care about coming back together again.

I’ll be hanging out in the discussion through the weekend so you can let me know!