Need help with selecting design software

I am a purchaser from the initial semi-crowdfund span, received my glowforge more or less when expected for someone at that point on, and to this point I have only used the glowforge a small handful of times. I have most of my initial materials more or less untouched, and haven’t spent any of my store credit (and I think I missed the window for founder discount? At least it was supposed to have ended by this point, as i understand it)

The reason for the delay: I am autistic, and not a terribly high-functioning one at that. I have made repeated attempts to work with tools to produce files for the glowforge, but I run into difficulties in that all of the available software appears to be some combination of extremely complicated or lacking critical features unless you spend incredible amounts of money.

When I try to work with the more complicated illustration or cad packages (inkscape, illustrator, and a few 2d cad programs I have tried), I end up overwhelmed with everything in the application. There’s so much to interact with, and frequently much of it is necessary to accomplish the most simple of tasks. Even making simple boxes appears to be complicated beyond my ability to fathom, and most 3d cad tools appear to be even worse.

I’ve found that I can work with sketchup – its basic usage is intuitive to me, and I can ignore most of its functionality without suffering significant stress – but the free version does not natively export to SVG, the ‘pro’ version is expensive to the tune of a significant percentage of my yearly income (or else I would pay a subscription which makes no sense for me as a disabled person on fixed income), and the one plugin I found that attempts to produce SVG output from sketchup ( face SVG ) is meant for CnC routers and produces output that must be then post-processed by something like inkscape putting me back to the previous set of problems.

I’m at a bit of a loss. I see some tools that I might be able to use, but things like TinkerCAD are web-only offerings, and the idea of not actually having an application I can install and back up and control when it gets updated changed is an additional stress factor for me (at least with Glowforge there’s already a monetary investment so I have at least some reason to trust things won’t change unduly), so I can’t bring myself to invest in the time to familiarize myself with a tool that might suddenly stop being usable at any point in time.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Are there any 2d programs for producing SVGs as easy to use as sketchup, and I’m just missing them? are there any cad offerings like tinkercad that can actually be installed as a standalone app?

Alternately is there something easier to use than inkscape that is capable of post-processing the output of face svg?


Illustrator can be overwhelming because of how much it can do. I feel kind of the opposite of you, in that most of the program isn’t utilized (or needed) in most laser designs.

Do you think walking through a design that you might have in mind would help?

Another thing might be to set up a workspace in Illustrator that really only gives you what you need, rather than the huge variety of tools and windows you probably won’t be using much or at all.

Or, it sounds like the process of a CAD program might work better for you in putting together designs? For some people, CAD comes very naturally compared to a flat 2D Illustration program like Illustrator. I’m the opposite, I struggle with CAD. We have lots of people here that are great at programs like Fusion360 (which is free for hobbyists).

4 Likes is a great tool for making simple boxes - it generates an SVG you can download and use straight away in the glowforge.

I’ve learned inkscape as well - and as long as I color each “process” differently, and cuts BLACK, then that works well too. You do have to make sure to select text, then path, then object to path… so you can then engrave it.

I’d suggest Fusion 360 because there is a new experimental interface that only presents the tools that are pertinent at the moment and there are plug-ins that will let you skip the art program.


I’m sure you’ve seen info on Affinity Designer, which a lot of people like. You may not have seen Sure Cuts A Lot (about $60) which is primarily for the vinyl cutters out there but it does output SVGs and I have even found it to open SVG files that my old copy of Illustrator balks at. I didn’t see you mention what platform you are using, but SCAL is available for both Windows and Mac. If there is a scenario you would like checked out, I’d be glad to do that for you. Also, you can download a trial version here:


You could check out

that looks like a strait converter if Sktechup produces an OBJ file.
it would be very limited but more control is more widgets to learn.

One way to learn inkscape without stress is to just play on it without a plan of where you want to go. If it is messy or useless just toss it away. If you are just having fun the learning could sneak up on you without you noticing.

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Another method if you can print out the Sketch-up drawing on paper you can use the native GFUI that works the Glowforge to scan the drawing in and print it, Again not great but simple.

New at these softwares too and having a hard time with inkscape :frowning: I wonder if the Sca Laser program is easier? do yu know if this will work with glowforge? i use designspace with cricut

No, I don’t. But I think you can download and test it before buying.

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