My sales Pitch

Since shipping has started, nobody still here is likely considering dropping the Glowforge for another laser.

But, some of you may be going back to look for referral credits (that program is still going, right?), or just want to share the news with friends and family.

At Maker Faire I spoke with quite a few people who were interested in the machine, and by the end of the weekend, I had a full sales pitch developed. Reasonably certain I led to three sales, but wasn’t passing out my own referral code, so I will never know :slight_smile:

What you are buying when you choose Glowforge instead of another laser, is an “Apple vs Android” scenario. But where Apple (the Glowforge analogue) made a nice user experience and locked away most customization, Glowforge seems to have left full control available, but tucked it out of the way for a clean intuitive UI.

Glowforge makes the user experience better by removing the “pain points” of Lasercutting.

If you are familiar with 3D printing, then you know of pain points… bed adhesion, bed levelling, slicer configuration to ensure proper dimensions and tolerances, bed temperature, fan speeds and activation…

All of those are the things people starting in 3D printing HAVE to learn. But modern printers have automated quite a few of them. Sure, you may have a bit less control in some cases, but you get to pull a machine out of the box and just start making baubles.

Well, in Laser Cutting, the pain points are there, but different. The primary pain points are mirror alignment, material/design alignment on the bed, focusing the laser on your material, and figuring out the speed/power to achieve your desired results with the material.

Glowforge completely eliminated the mirror alignment pain point. This is a huge boon to starting users! Alignment can often be done just once, but after that painful process, you are likely quite upset at anyone bumping your laser, and you are absolutely NOT eager to re-arrange your shop, let alone take the laser traveling. But, the always-on-spot optical alignment of Glowforge means you are happy to toss it in your trunk and run off to a friend’s house to share the love.

Aligning your design to your material in most lasers is achieved by either working from the 0,0 origin (Glowforge doesn’t have one of those) if you are doing square material stock, and working on a corner (not often an option with scrap/pre-used sheets), or by using a visible laser pointer via beam combiner, or just running the whole head around your perimeter (not effective if you want to align based on a hole in the middle somewhere). But, with the Glowforge, you place your material on the bed, then you have an image of that material presented in the computer, where you can arrange your pending cut/engrave routine at will.

The cameras also remove the third pain point: focusing the laser on your material. This one is not hard to do on most lasers, you have a little trinket which you place on your material, slide the laser head down snug against it and you are all set. But, if you almost always work with 1/4" material, and one day decide to do a 1/2" sheet instead… you are likely to forget to re-focus, because you haven’t had to for months on end. Then when you re-do the 1/2" sheet… I hope you remember to restore the focus to your 1/4" normal location, or you will have another botched job later…

On the Glowforge… you have to specifically request in the interface if you want to NOT have the laser properly focused, regardless of the size of material you use.

The last pain point is removed only if you are using Proofgrade material. Which is something that most of the time you won’t bother with. But when you have a time critical job or a giant order, picking up some proofgrade for a reliable cut is absolutely the way to go. Or even just when you are starting out and want to know what a good job COULD look like. Cut your teeth on Proofgrade, pay attention to the auto-magic settings, and get a feel for how to look at a piece on non-proofgrade and decide if you used too much or too little power.

On the flip side, the main down sides to the Glowforge are size related. The laser is “only” a 40W laser, so you are mostly working with 1/4" materials. The bed size is a “mere” 12x20 (roughly), so you are working with things about the size of a large picture frame, or building from pieces. And the main detractor is the depth, with no object over 2" tall being able to go in the machine.

For me personally, I have another laser that is stronger, and I am free to modify to be as big as I want. Yet almost everything I have done, or seen and wanted to do, can fit in the Glowforge. And my machine is a pain to use (not true of most lasers, mine is just really crappy student-built), so in every case where I can use the Glowforge, I absolutely will. If you want to make something very large, layers are your friend!


This is fantastic!


Of all those words, these are the only ones I disagree with. I would have said the same unless I’d had a PRU. I use :proofgrade: more than I don’t. The stuff rocks and if you value your time at anything near $10 hour you will use it a lot as well.


I anticipate using a ton of Proofgrade, beacuse I have more money than time. But I am also small-town and anti-social. Anyone with a hookup for free material ought to be using the free stuff with abandon, and my jealousy makes me assume everyone has a hookup for freebies :wink:

My actual discussions over the weekend went into great length about the pains of any plywood more than 2 sheets thick, and how voids and knots make your life unbearable.


Two words for when you are not using :proofgrade:, Baltic Birch. Most ply from home improvement stores is unusable. Of course, Hardboard (HDF) and MDF are consistent and thus good choices for some applications as well.


Extremely well written! Thank you! I’ve been super interested with the thoughts about proofgrade for sure, I wasn’t planning on using a ton of it but from what some people have been saying it might be worth the expense from a business perspective.

What laser setup do you have? It sounds somewhat like a modular system that you can just lengthen your gantry to get an increased size but what laser are you using? I’ve been working on a design for a larger laser in the back of my mind and haven’t figured out how I want that part yet.


Yep, for me it’s super important to be able to make finished things quickly with least amount of finish/tweaking work. Just knowing the settings will “just work” is huge (fire-and-forget) when your time is worth a lot.

yep, my total goto when I need an unfinished part (i.e. I will stain it, or keep it raw, etc)


Well hopefully Lase-and-forget, since we hope with PG to NOT have fire…


Something that can be another pain point, apart from cost. Glowforge is safely contained. It is safe around children AND pets. Many lasers that I’ve seen, unless far more expensive, are open, and you would want separate shop space to use them. You can sit your Glowforge in your living room or craft space without worry.


This one is huge for me, as I have kids and cats, and the unit WILL be sitting in my living room.

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Getting a pro, so probably not deemed safe in a living room but it will either be in my lab or workshop.

Currently experimenting with a 1W laser diode wearing very expensive goggles behind a locked door in case my wife tries to walk in.

Fortunately no kids or animals.


I am getting Pro, too. Planning to lock down space for pass-through work, and have laser safety classes for everyone (except the cats).

The group who built the laser loosely followed Lasersaur. But in the end you just have a gantry, a tube and some mirrors. So we can get a bigger gantry, adjust some variables in the firmware, and we are set.

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Wow, I didn’t even need a laser to want to do that…


I bought the pro, mostly because of the pass through feature and the filter meaning I didn’t have to vent fumes out of the house. My intention is to use it in my office/junk room. Now, I’m starting to be concerned.

The video that sold me on the Glowforge made it look as safe as a printer, sitting on a kitchen counter. Comments here make it sound like it should be the only item in a fire-proofed metal building. I’m sure, in truth, safety concerns will be somewhere between those extremes, and I’m hoping to find out soon what they are.

I may choose to downgrade to basic if the pro is unsafe for my home environment.

It remains to be seen what the safety instructions say. All we know is it is a class 4 device and it would be very unusual to find an example of one in a home environment.

If I cover the slots with a laser proof cover that can’t be removed from the outside then I don’t see any practical difference from a class 1 basic but I don’t think the certification system can cope with that.


As I undestand, the only difference between Basic and Pro is the use of safety glasses because of the passthrough slot, so essentially both are equally home-safe.

It does not matter what you chose to do with your GF :glowforge: (tape it closed or cut giant holes in the sides) in your house, it will not change the Class 4 designation (of the Pro) that is assigned by regulators as the equipment was manufactured.

Taking it out into public (taped or “swiss cheesed”) still gets treated as a Class 4 usage environment and safety inspectors/regulation enforcement will fine or shutdown the usage without Class 4 protections.

It is not the owner of the equipment that dictates classification (regardless of the owners capacities or intentions).

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Yes very true. I don’t think it is practical to operate class 4 equipment in public environments, hence why GF don’t exhibit the pro. What I do in my own home is my own business.

Yes but the average family doesn’t walk around the home wearing safety goggles. You would have to restrict access to the room and put up warnings signs and whatever else class 4 dictates.


It could be fairly easily done. They could either build a surrounding case with laser-safe glass (same as the lid is made out of) with an interlock that cuts power to the unit (or maybe even just the laser, since I’m sure that could be rigged up by Glowforge) OR they could buy a commercially available laser enclosure:

It occurs to me that Glowforge should have planned for this need, by including a simple 2-wire plug somewhere on the unit for an external interlock (circuit closed = laser can fire, circuit open = no pew pew.) Then you could use whatever enclosure you like.