Misalignment of Printed Text

Hi there. I’m a new :glowforge: owner (super excited!) and taking on Ear Savers as my first major project. But I’ve printed multiple sheets and some of the scored markings are getting misaligned.

Here’s what the file is supposed to look like: GFREarSaversFullsheet_v7.zip (83.9 KB)
The order of operations is Scoring then Cutting the outline.

You can see that in the rear leg line on the goat as well as the last “E” in “RESCUE” sometimes going on the next Ear Saver.

After the first sheet had these errors, I made the Honeycomb bed holdown pins posted by eljefe4.

Basically the same results using the pins, though slightly less frequently having vertical displacement issues. When secured with pins on top (since it’s a 12"x20" sheet with l can’t do the sides or bottom), I can’t move the acrylic at all.

My best guess (other than me doing something wrong) is that there is some kind of drift happening with the belt motor controllers. It seems like the worst culprits are when the laser cuts in an extremely weird order:

Here’s what a finished sheet looks like (the removed ones in the top left were my tests since I don’t have scrap acrylic yet). You can see things like the unintended spacing in “RESC UE” on the 4th Ear Saver from the bottom right in the last column. Also how the goat’s positioning shifts around.

What can I do to fix/avoid these problems? Or is this an issue that is just inherent with a DIY laser cutter? The Ear Savers aren’t perfect, but still completely usable. However, I don’t want these inaccuracies ruining future projects.

That definitely shouldn’t be happening.

Before you launch into belt adjustment, check all the belts and tracks for any bits of debris that could be interfering with movement – that could cause the alignment to “drift” over time (BTW, turning the machine off and letting it go through its startup sequence should help it figure out where it’s supposed to be again).

If it’s not that, it’s possible there’s a problem with your belts, but since it’s a brand new machine I’m kind of hesitant to suggest messing with them until Support can weigh in. They will be along soon to help get this figured out, since you’ve opened a support ticket by posting here.

Good luck!


It’s not inherent to a “DIY laser”.

I don’t think it’s belts, because it would have affected all operations, not just the text, and would have carried over to all subsequent letters/shapes.

Support can look at the print (please note what time and timezone this was printed)

My opinion (guess) is the file is to complex and there is a cloud processing error going on. There are 1327 grouped objects, composed of over 32,000 nodes. I think the text should be combined into combined paths, not grouped objects. Reducing the number of objects might make all the difference.


Thanks for the response! Being new to digital art, that sounds logical, but I’m not sure how I go about doing that. Is that something where I’m using the wrong export settings from Affinity Designer? Or would that be an issue with how I’ve structured the document during creation?

Can’t speak for AD. In Inkscape, I had to ungroup several times to get to the underlying paths. At that point, I would select all of the text and “combine” paths. I would do the same with the logo image as well, and then with the actual cut paths.

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I use AD and haven’t had a problem cutting the ear savers with added artwork that I’ve exported from it, nothing any less complex than you’re doing. It provides reliable output files – I can’t see it being at fault for the unexpected spacing between letters.

Also, it won’t combine the ear saver paths, since they aren’t closed outlines – I’ve been just using them as released.

If you want to upload your artwork here we can take a look at it for you, just to make sure. :slight_smile:

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It’s in the first post.

Oops, that’s what I get for reading from my phone.

I’ve got to trek to the mailbox before it gets dark – I’ll take a look as soon as I get back!

Thank you both for the tips. Here’s the AD copy if it helps to look at: GFREarSaversFullsheet_v2.zip (320.8 KB)

Made it back! pant, pant (it’s a long walk)

I don’t see anything amiss in your artwork. The overlapping lines on the goat’s leg and the spacing in the letters on that one piece really look hardware-related to me.

I’m still hoping it’s something on your rails or belts that’s just bumping the head a little as it goes over, and causing it to move off-course a little bit each time. I’d still check that, and also move the head and gantry around through their full ranges (with the machine OFF, of course!) and see if you can feel any resistance anywhere. It seems to be more X-axis-related than Y, so pay special attention to what you feel while moving the head back and forth, and making sure there aren’t any little crumbs of anything in the carriage belt or the rails the head slides on, in front and back of the gantry.

Support should be along soon with more official suggestions, but none of this will hurt anything to try in the meantime. :slight_smile:

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I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve hit this snag while attempting to print Ear Savers! I appreciate you working through all of the advice others have provided on this thread. I apologize for the delay in response.

I’ve extracted the log files from your Glowforge to review this print. As @eflyguy pointed out, the belts would may not be contributing to this error, due to the fact that it is not occurring in all regions of the print, but the cleaning instructions @geek2nurse are a great first step!

However, I’m concerned that it may be due to the complexity of the file, and the print operations in sequential order.

If you print a similar file, but only one row on Proofgrade material, does the same behavior occur?

Let us know how it goes!

Sorry for the delayed response. I got distracted by the “recent” events.

@geek2nurse Thank you for the diagnosis tips. Manually moving the head around the x and y axes hasn’t revealed much (in a good? way). I couldn’t feel any points of resistance or play anywhere on either axis. I’ve use 4 of the 5 pieces of Medium Draftboard that came in the starter kit, so there was a bit of sawdust that came off when I twanged the belts, but that hasn’t changed anything.

@MarcM I actually did print a single row of Ear Savers actually because I had accidentally moved the y-axis before doing a full sheet and it didn’t recenter before the print, so the whole thing was shifted down. Unfortunately, the second time, the laser cut further south than indicated in the preview on the :glowforge: App, so most of the row had to get thrown out (since the nubs on the bottom of the Ear Savers were cut off) and I didn’t take a picture. I’ll run another row, though I admit I’m starting to get to the end of my current stock of :proofgrade: (besides the mountain of blue acrylic I got which I’d like to save for the local hospital Ear Savers).

Oh! Almost forgot. @MarcM, maybe this timelapse will help with a potential diagnosis.

Okay. I printed out another row. A lot of interesting results. Interesting, but confusing.
GFREarSaversFullsheet_v11_super_super_short.zip (16.0 KB)

Once the print finished, the app refreshed, and you can see that the art lines are misaligned from the image (i don’t know if this is normal or not). (And note: I hadn’t even opened the lid yet).

I noticed that it was again printing in the very strange order of skipping the hind leg until last:

Here’s the untouched finished result:

At first, I didn’t think anything was wrong, but the shifting was already starting to happen. You can see that both the goat head and “RESCUE” are closer to their respective edges (The edges of the acrylic were lined up on both of these Ear Savers):

I’m left more confused by what this all means, but does it make sense to you @MarcM?

I’m sorry about the ongoing trouble when trying to print your custom art as part of the Ear Savers. We’re seeing this too and the team is looking into it.

For now, I have a couple suggestions which might help. One option would be to rasterize the portion of the design which is currently being scored. This would lead to it running as an engrave which, while slower, should correct the alignment issue. We have an article on how to rasterize objects in Inkscape and Illustrator on our support site here: Rasterize Objects

Another option would be to try grouping the scored areas of your designs into smaller sections, and then assigning each of those sections its own color so that it will be treated as a separate print step in the app. This will help to control how far the print head moves between printing individual score lines. A guide for setting up the order of print steps can be found on our support site here: Advanced: Setting the Order of Your Print Steps

Please let us know how it goes!

Sorry, so are you asking me to print a whole sheet again? Because unfortunately, I don’t have the acrylic to do that at the moment.

Also, in a totally separate print, it seems to have just skipped some of the cut lines in the top left (though it’s possible that there could be something related to using non-:proofgrade: baltic birch plywood).

Can you share just the cut portion of that file? (if you upload the SVG, the forum strips bitmaps/rasters from them anyway…)

Here’s a zip folder with both. Does that work? Rose Puzzle.zip (429.6 KB)

Thank you for letting us know about your limited stock of acrylic. I apologize for all of the alignment behavior you’ve been experiencing during prints.

In order to ensure that your unit is performing correctly, the steps & suggestions @ivan1 made should help to resolve the alignment trouble you’re experiencing, when printing Ear Savers.

We are working hard to restock our acrylic Proofgrade as fast as possible, so I appreciate your patience during this time.