New Glowforge cut great for a bit, now won't cut through anything (even ProofGrade)

I’ve probably got about an hour or so worth of cutting so far on this new Glowforge.

I’ve got my settings down great for this maple plywood I’ve been using. It’s been cutting perfectly, but on my first failure I noticed its kerf looked quite a bit wider than usual as it was cutting. When I took it out, it had a cut right where it began, but then slowly faded to no cuts at all (see pic).

I thought my auto focus was off somehow, so I did a test cut with auto focus definitely hitting the board. It didn’t cut through. Looked clean on the other side. Same big looking kerf.

Thinking it must be the auto focus messing up, I tried manually setting the material thickness and making sure my cut was focused for that. (material thickness was from a caliper, and I’ve successfully cut this material this way before). Same failed cut.

I then got some PG draftboard out and did the whole she-bang. It failed the cut. Looks clean on the other side. I recorded a simple video to show it failing the PG cut:

Not sure what to do from here other than attempting to clean the entire thing, but as I said, it doesn’t have that many hours on it so it feels odd to need to do that from such a fresh machine.

Have you cleaned it recently? If you accidentally get the lens in upside-down you’ll have huge kerf and no cut-through. Might be worth checking!

Nope, it’s a super new unit. I haven’t bothered even trying to clean it because it’s so new. I mainly cut plywood.

Then it may be time to clean the lenses – not cutting through is usually my first sign I’ve waited too long. :slight_smile:

Even though it’s a fresh machine with only an hour or so of cut time, I gave it a shot. Cleaned all the lenses with a zeiss wipe and just did a test print and sadly it’s the same failed cut.

Well, phooey. I guess we have to wait for Support to get here, then!

Thanks for trying!

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Thank you for posting that photo. I’m sorry that your design didn’t cut out as expected.

There are several things that need to be checked if the laser doesn’t cleanly cut through the material. As you’ve said, it’s strange to have to clean a fresh machine, but I’d like you to take the steps to clean it to make absolutely sure it’s an issue with the laser.

Please turn off your Glowforge and check the following:

Once all these things have been checked, please perform the following test print.

  • Print the Gift of Good Measure on Proofgrade material, using Proofgrade settings.

  • When the print finishes, leave the lid closed and wait until the fans stop and the picture updates.

Check the completed print:

  • If the Gift of Good Measure fails to cut through, take a photo of the front and back of the print and post them.
  • If the Gift of Good Measure cuts successfully, please try another print of the design you experienced the issue with, and let us know the results.

I re-cleaned the optics now that my work area is lit up a lot more just in case. I even checked the mirror, noticed a tiny speck of dust, cleaned it with a zeiss wipe as the instructions say to do. Re-installed it properly. Both sides of the main lense look superb.

I cleaned the crumb tray, ensured the feet were clean and paid extra attention to the grooves it sits in too.

I put in PG draftboard and made sure the material was flat.

I made it print the gift of good measure, and it failed with no marks on the other side of the material.

Pics of the failure:

Notice how weak the whole print is compared to an older successful print. The engraving is shallow.

I’m stumped.

Thanks for performing that test print. The photos of your optics are a great addition! Would you mind taking a few more photos and posting them?

We’ll need a photo of:

  • The printer head lens
    • Both sides of the lens, top and bottom
  • The mirror inside the printer head

Once we’ve got those, we’ll be able to continue our investigation into the issue.


Thank you so much for posting those. We appreciate your patience as we continue to investigate the source of the trouble you’ve been having with cut through. Unfortunately, it looks like your unit is experiencing an issue that we can’t resolve remotely. I want you to have a reliable unit, so I’m recommending we replace this one. I’ll be in touch via email to sort out the details. I’m so sorry about the bad news. Since this is going to have to move to email, I’ll be closing this thread.