Need help, newbie, strong smell and smoke

Hi all!

I just tried my 3rd cut and everyone has been the same…very strong smell and lots of smoke.

Details: Glowforge pro, proofgrade material, using air filter, toggle is on for using air filter. The settings were set by the proofgrade for a cut on the base wood plywood.

It’s such an unbearable smell and amount of smoke I had to turn the machine off twice this time. I don’t hear anything coming from the air filter machine…is there supposed to be a sound? Or is it a silent run? It’s almost like it’s not on but having not had the machine before I wouldn’t know.

The whole unit gets full of smoke during a cut and this time smoke was coming from the pass through slot.

Any ideas or help is greatly appreciated? Wasted material bc I don’t guess I can get it pickup where I left off. More importantly, I’m worried I filled my home with terrible toxins. When I emailed support I got an email back with the same info you can find on the site for setup.

Thanks so much! This is wonderful community!

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There is something wrong with how the air filter is pulling the smoke out of the Glowforge. The filter makes a sound. How high do you have it turned?

No the air filter doesn’t make a noise at all it seems. I don’t feel anything blowing or hear anything. I have the knob on new because the machine is brand new.

Can you double check that the power cord is making good contact and the outlet works that it is plugged into and the switch is turned on? If no sound, maybe unplug and replace the fuse for the unit.

Turn the knob up and see if that fixes your problem


Just hit the white button (or the button on your screen) to pause a job. It’ll stop making any new smoke and allow the other stuff to dissipate (and once you get your filter sorted it won’t develop in the first place). Also, there are lots of posts on here about picking up where you left off. Don’t waste any more material unless you want to!

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Everything is in contact and turns on. I can see the light. When I turn the knob up I just realize now there is a loud sound and a fan for sure. I thought new meant new filter? I don’t understand what the knob should be on when running the machine.

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Very helpful! What should the knob be on? I figured “new” on the dial meant a new filter and its brand new machine. Is it supposed to just be on higher regardless? At “new” it makes no sound and there is no sound of a fan. Upon playing with knob I now hear it.

It should be on new as you thought. But maybe you can dial back towards new and see if that works for you. As the filter fills you will turn the knob to a higher setting.


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It should be on as low as you need it to remove the smoke successfully - if you were only cutting tile then almost 0 is perfect. Wood has a lot more smoke, and acrylic a lot stronger scent so higher is needed…

So the totally helpful answer is “it depends”.

Just be sure - are you aware how quickly the filters fill up? and that you should never use them with draftboard/plywood unless you’re really ready to replace them quickly right?


Had no clue. There were no directions with the filter. I keep trying to read up but searching the community forums is like getting lost in a corn maze. I was just cutting plywood. I have only done 2 projects and both were on proofgrade plywood.

Why do I feel like I made a bad purchase.

As far as toxic? How bad is this at this point that I’ve filled a room with fumes that we can’t even walk into. Have kids in the house and admittedly nervous.


You guys!! My air filter doesn’t have the off circle. It looks different than the manual. When I had it dialed to the left I was assuming it was on new as that’s where the visual markings are on the unit. There is no “off” marking.

I was feeling defeated. I feel much better. Hopefully this takes care of my issue.

Thank you all so much! I will try again and see what happens.


The filters are really great if you don’t have the option of venting outside - but like all laser filters they have their limitations.
This article may help you more - note at the bottom there’s a link that shows typical usage, you’ll see that you get about 1/4 of the uses when working with plywood. MDF is a killer on a physical filter!
There are also a bunch of folks on here who talk about picking up a pre-filter (literally piece of filter material that you put on top) that will get dirty quickly but only cost a few dollars, compared to the $250 of an entire new cartridge. Something like this (this is just an example, be sure to measure to get the right size!)


Thank you!! I can vent outside as I’m in a room with a window. Is that a better idea?? I was worried about it coming back through the window. How does venting outside suck the fumes out of the glowforge? I was worried it was smell worse.

Thanks again!

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You would be happier venting out a window. There are lots of posts here in the forum regarding window vents.

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Venting out the window is the best choice if you have the option. The filter is a consumable and will eventually need replacement. Cutting MDF (the core of proofgrade ply) fills them quickly. Heavy users can fill one in a couple of weeks.

The smoke is a nuisance, it’s normally not toxic. But like anything, it’s the dose that makes the poison. Either water or oxygen is lethal in sufficient quantity.
A picture of your window would help us advise you.


HI @simplymacsllc. I’m so sorry that you ran into trouble with smoke and fumes on new Glowforge. I see that you may have been working on this through an email support ticket as well. I saw some great advice from fellow Glowforge owners, and wanted to check with you first to see that was able to help you resolve this. If not, please let me know, and I will gladly continue any needed troubleshooting to get you printing without worry. I’ll also respond to your email thread to let you know I sent this response and will consolidate everything to this Community thread. Thank you!

Thank you so much for that help! Here is a picture of the window. I would love any help. I have been searching the forums like a mad woman and it gets overwhelming. I know there’s a learning curve though!! I appreciate the help.

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Hi Brandon! Thank you for getting back to me here. I think maybe I figured it out with the help of this awesome community. My air filter doesn’t look like the one in the manual. I assumed when the knob was turned left it was matching the markings on the unit that indicate new filter. However, it was off because I don’t have the circle off markings on the unit like the manual shows. I don’t know if that is standard or mine is just missing it. I just thought wow this thing is quiet.

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Something like this will work for a double-hung window like yours. Weather stripping will help make a seal. Also there is a seal on the top edge of that window that should be sealed to prevent smoke from coming back in. For that, tape or better, something like this could be stuffed in the gap.
A search for “window venting” will give you more results.