Need a new filter after less than 10 hours of cutting

I’ve been trying to resolve an issue with my compact filter since October 8th. It stopped working EXACTLY 30 days after delivery. I honestly have only cut a handful of projects and I’m pretty sure I have less than 10 hours of cutting time. It’s been two weeks since I sent them photos of my filter (which they requested) and I haven’t heard back. I finally sent a new email today and got a response from a different person saying that they will allow me to return the compact filter minus a shipping charge and a 30% restocking fee. I see that MANY people are having the same issue I am (very short filter lifespan) and I’m calculating how much money Glowforge is making on these less than adequate filters that they are “allowing” people to return. They sell it for $995, it works for one month, people get angry and send it back, Glowforge keeps $298.50, they “refurbish” it and sell it again for $995. Not a bad deal if you ask me. I’m questioning how many times my compact filter sat in someone else’s home or office before I had it because it certainly should have lasted long enough to get me through the sample box of materials.

Not necessarily… If you were cutting the draftboard in the sample pack, that can clog up the filter in a flat hurry. Unfortunately, it looks like a few folks might have missed the warning about it, and got caught by surprise by how fast it can clog the filter. (The glues in MDF, draftboard and certain plywoods, and the resins in some hardwoods and softwoods really do a number on any kind of filter with pores small enough to filter smells out.)

There’s a chart provided by Glowforge in the FAQ section that lists the average cartridge time when cutting and engraving the various categories of material. Some of them will last for over 200 hours of cutting time, so it really just depends on what you are using the filter for.

Take a look at the chart and see if there are other materials you might want to try the filter with before you make up your mind about returning it. If they don’t see anything wrong with the filter except that you filled up a cartridge quickly, then that’s a return because you changed your mind, and those do draw the restocking fee according to the Terms of Service. But the filter will last a lot longer with other materials, and you might decide you’d rather not return it after all.

Estimated Cartridge Life - Compact Filter Testing

If you do need to cut mainly Draftboard and MDF, then this kind of filter isn’t going to work for you without a pre-filter of some kind. (And you’ll have the same problem with any other similarly sized filter, so keep that in mind too, if you have to have a filter.)

There are suggestions for pre-filters that people have used in the Beyond the Manual section of the forum here, from simple drop-in Honeywell pre-filters, to actual inline filtering. Check that out too before making your final decision, and good luck with it. :slightly_smiling_face:



THREE SHEETS OF DRAFTBOARD?? Because that’s about all the draftboard I cut. At $250/filter that hardly seems worth it, right?

Perhaps that list should be included in the box with the filter instead of buried in an FAQ section.

Perhaps Marc @ support could have responded to the photos I sent on Oct 8th instead of leaving me hanging. I still haven’t heard anything about the photos I sent him. Michael @ support yesterday just re-iterated the initial spiel that Marc initially gave me.

The restocking fee is a joke. The Filter DID NOT WORK as promised. Therefore a full refund should be offered. I will already be spending $156 in shipping charges for this big paperweight.

Glowforge needs to offer a better resolution to customers that have spent THOUSANDS of dollars…

Yeah, unfortunately three sheets of draft board is enough to clog the pores up, depending on how much you cut out of it. The glue in the MDF melts when the laser hits it, becomes airborne in the smoke, and deposits on the inside of the tiny pores, closing them up. Padauk will clog it even faster, even though it’s supposed to be a hardwood. It just depends on the composition of the material, and how much of it you are burning. (Living hinges are killer.)

The filter worked exactly as all other similarly sized filters do. If you read through the stories in the forum and on the internet, you’ll see that cutting draftboard-type materials and MDF causes similar issues for all filtering systems, not just this one.

I do think they ought to stress that a little more, maybe put it in larger text for people who have never encountered it before, but there’s no guarantee that people will read it even then.
Don’t cut Draftboard , and be sure to research the lifespan of cutting other materials with filters if you don’t want to spend a fortune on cartridges.

The problem I see with using filters in general is that people don’t know what to expect from them, and too many folks are blasting through their first one without realizing what they’re doing. A group of us were recently brainstorming how to reach folks about it…and sadly we haven’t come up with a way to reach them yet. We’ll keep thinking on it. :neutral_face:

But the issue discussed was that many customers are holding unreasonable expectations, because they’ve never used one before. That needs to change. We’re just not sure how to reach them. Folks aren’t reading the online Manual or the FAQ. And the manufacturer of the filters is not going to add literature to the boxes, so that’s out.

They are excellent filters when used as designed. Glowforge will frequently work with you if they can, but patience is an absolute necessity…they might not have the stock in hand at the moment, and they will always fulfill earlier orders first. If you decide to wait and see what they can come up with, let them know here (it opened another ticket), or send a reply to your last email that you received about returning it, so they can reopen the ticket for you. :slightly_smiling_face:

If you don’t actually need a filter, then venting outdoors is the least expensive option. No question about it. It costs more to run these things on a filter, no matter what filter you use.

Hope some of that helps, since none of us here can actually do anything about the filter for you. :confused:


I concur. Any kind of filter will eventually face load and become ineffective, greatly reducing airflow - think about the lint screen in your clothes dryer.

That was the main reason I never even considered a filter purchase. In my view, that filter is best suited for something like a maker fair or similar temporary venue where there are no other venting options, allowing the use of the laser in crowded conditions or demonstrations where it wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I don’t think the company ever expected anyone to use it exclusively.

That said, I agree there should be better communication to align a customer’s expectations with reality.


I don’t own a filter since I don’t need one, but I’ve read a lot of posts about this. I do agree that the vital info. is pretty buried and it would be really helpful for GF to post it in a more obvious place and manner. That being said…the info. IS available. People sometimes get in too much of a hurry to do more reading that they think is necessary.


I just hate to see folks not understanding how they work when they buy them. It’s expensive and frustrating for the customers who purchase them, the customers here who try to help, and for Glowforge when they have to deal with the fallout from crushed expectations. I’m sure Glowforge would prefer that their customers make an informed decision about it, but short of putting out a training video…they are going to fail to reach the majority of the people who buy these things now.

We’ll just keep doing the best we can until they get the Glowforge filter out.

(But guys, if you are reading this, please maybe consider enlarging the warning in the Compact Filter Manual? Maybe explaining a little bit about why draftboard is going to clog it? I think it will prevent a lot of support issues and customer frustration. It’s easy to miss if you don’t have a fairly technical background.)


I completely agree. Would be helpful all round if Glowforge put at least some kind of heading or disclaimer in bold print somewhere where folks just could absolutely not miss seeing it. At least I like to think it would make a difference…but, I’ve been naive before. There are tons of posts so similar to this also on the Facebook page.

1 Like

Maybe instead of just instructing them to read the Manual when they ship the filters out, they could also link to a training video on how to use it. So many customers are “visual learners” now.
(At any rate, I hope they can fit something like that in for the Glowforge filter. Even a short one would help.)



Is there an error here between medium and thick plywood? The medium plywood allows for 32 hours and the thick plywood works for 246 hours?

This is also a super weird way to display this information. Why not just show hours?

1 Like

I’m not sure. I didn’t run that many tests on the thick plywood, so I don’t know for sure. My testing on the medium plywood was definitely in keeping with that number of around 30 hours under a worst case scenario…lots of heavy (living hinge type) cuts and deep engraves that throw a lot of material. (And the acrylic was on par with their number as well…I didn’t have that much material to burn for the testing though, so i couldn’t test every possible material.)

I would surmise that they show the number of prints because they don’t have a forward facing hour log for customers.

The average print is 11 minutes, per their data. So this kind of shows a real world example of usage. Knowing that it is 11 minutes, you can extrapolate out hourly use.

As for the difference between thick and medium plywood: the thick uses a different core composition. The medium uses a draftboard core. A piece of thick is actually lighter than a piece of medium.


The medium plywood has an MDF core, and the thick plywood has a core of actual poplar wood. I cannot think of a better point about the difference between MDF and actual wood.


What is being cut and how could make a huge difference in the clogging rate per hour. By having a standard test cut that all evens out. An hour doing a light photo engrave is a lot less crud per hour than an hour cutting out shapes.

Huh! Didn’t know that…it would definitely make a difference.

1 Like

I did not either but the word came from @dan

1 Like

@christy1 Every filter is new, we do not ship used or refurbished air filters. I am sorry that your air filter did not work well with the draftboard that you were cutting. As noted, you’ll find much better results with the recommended materials. I also apologize for the delay in resolving your email and we’ll continue to follow up with there.