I just had my first Proofgrade medium Maple Plywood failed cut this morning. Five objects to cut, on all five the outside cuts went through, on two the inside cuts didn’t go all the way through. My sheet of plywood had a slight bow to it though, so that’s what I’m chalking it up to. What I can say is that the issue isn’t universal. Sorry to hear about this though.
I’ve noticed that cutting tight complex curves usually results in more incomplete cuts than nice geometric shapes, so i usually just adjust for it up front by slowing down the normal cutting speeds by about 10 to 15 points, especially if I’ve got a design with a lot of curves and switchbacks.
(Or I’ll send it to cut a second time without moving the material afterwards if I forgot to adjust for the curves up front.)
Sometimes it helps to cut weeding lines too, to keep from breaking a tight fitting thin shape.
Have you successfully printed on Proofgrade™ Medium Maple Plywood using Proofgrade settings before? If so, when (if you can remember)? Yes, many times. Probably a week prior to this incident? Not sure for that material specifically…
Would you print a Founder’s Ruler on the same piece of Proofgrade Medium Maple Plywood using default settings and let us know how it goes? Sure, I’ll knock this out when I get home tonight.
Would you do another small test print using one of our designs on another type of Proofgrade material using Proofgrade settings and let us know how it goes? Sure, which design would you like me to use? I’ll throw it on some draftboard.
This is the first piece of real printing advice I can find. I have had failed cuts on plywood AND draftboard and all the support team can tell me to do is clean my machine. My machine has been cleaned and recleaned! Super frustrating, but thanks Jules for the tip on slowing down cutting speeds. Strange though - seems to me the proofgrade settings should “cut like butter” on a simple design! I tend to just set it to do 2 passes every time now, which seems like a waste of time to me as the proofgrade settings SHOULD work, right?!
But there are an awful lot of variables with this, and it can be caused by anything from a dirty lens (it really is one of the top culprits ) to a slight amount of warp in the material, or a bad spot or knot in the wood. So the folks at support have to be kind of general with the suggestions to make sure that everything has been checked and eliminated.
What I always check for if I get incomplete cuts is:
Is there even a tiny amount of warp in the wood?
Using the Honeycomb Pins has been a lifesaver for me because the wood down here always warps. (High humidity area here.)
I keep a little spice jar of them next to the machine and use them up front…no more problems with incomplete cuts.
If there is one side of the bed that consistently doesn’t cut through, but the rest is cutting okay, that’s a sign of a slight warp in the material. It doesn’t take much to cause an incomplete cut.
That needs to happen more frequently depending on what you are using the machine for - engraving on things like draftboard and plywood throw up more resinous gunk than etching slate, and cutting throws up more gunk than engraving. When the tube starts to look a little yellow, i usually clean the interior, but it’s usually only every few weeks.
The part that I mentioned above about adjusting the speed for the design is not something that Glowforge can suggest, since they don’t know what kinds of designs we’re trying to cut. And that comes from personal experience after years of designing digital cutter files - we had to make special allowances for tight curves and corners in those, due to the limitations of the machine movement. It translates very well into laser work as well.
Once you know it though, it’s a lot easier to modify your settings slightly and you’ll get even fewer bad jobs.
Having done those three things, if you still have trouble cutting through the Proofgrade consistently, it might be a focal issue or a power issue on the machine, and you would need to open a support ticket on it. (I’m not talking about just a little tab or two not cutting through, I’m talking about it’s not making it all the way through on any cuts.)
As you get a little more comfortable with the materials, it will happen less and less. I can’t remember the last time I had an incomplete cut on anything.
Yes it should cut through the PG every time if all surfaces are clean, lens and mirror installed correctly, the material is extremely flat and the material focal scan is taken on the design to be cut.
But Support has to hold everyone’s hand first. There is no way to differentiate between the experienced and the newbie. Even the experienced can be quite illogical and skip steps. For example have seen a bunch of too smart folks not read the instructions and didn’t know there was a laser window to clean on the far left side of the machine. Many more people think that flat is just eyeball flat which is not good enough.
Have seen a problem where the material thickness scan occurred in a previous cutout or a significant distance from the parts to be cut out. If the material is not held down where the scan is taken a large focal error could occur. That’s usually only a problem with multi-part designs.
Your machine may have real problems but Support still needs to rule the simple stuff out since poor cut performance has been most often not the machine.
Totally get it. I guess I am just one who follows directions meticulously and have been getting frustrated with the same response. But I appreciate your guys help and comments! One thing I haven’t done is utilize the forum enough. I just really didn’t think there would be any scenarios were I would have to adjust PG settings on PG materials. Learn something new every day
Thanks Jules! Definitely going to try those Honeycomb pins!
I clean my lens regularly - probably more than recommended right now with all the errors I have had. And even still, sometimes after I clean it and do only 3 short prints, my GF seems to have trouble focusing or recognizing the PG material I am using…?
Definitely a learning process even with the PG - and I am realizing I need to utilize the forum more! =)
Glare on the stickers is more responsible for misreads of the stickers than anything else I think. Eventually they’re supposed to go an invisible UV printed code all over the masking that should do away with that.
You shouldn’t - if you’ve done everything support asks and it still doesn’t work, please do file a new ticket (by emailing support). We’ll move on to other troubleshooting steps, up to and including replacing the machine if needed. It’s rare, because most of the time it’s something easy to fix, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Note, by the way, that Support tracks all new threads in this category, but does not get notified when someone replies to an old thread, as happened here. Lucky I happened to see it.
One other reason we double check the easy stuff: if we get the machine back and it was a dirty lens or warped material, then we have to charge you for roundtrip shipping - which stinks. So we want you to be sure before you send it!
Thanks, Dan! Most of the time their recommendations work, but only temporarily. I am cutting some honeycomb pins as we speak to see if that doesn’t help with more consistent cuts! (and cutting all the way through without having to do 2 passes as that’s what I am doing on all PG cuts right now) Fingers crossed!
Other than the overhead lens/camera, should I be cleaning other ones more often to help with focus?