Picking the right Laser for the User


I’m sure that I am not the only one that has tossed around the idea of cancelling their order due to the delay. Has anyone tossed around cancelling and using the refund towards a different laser that is currently available?

I am maybe 75/25 on holding on vs. cancelling. It seems there are a lot of options out there for the same price range of $4k.

Is it only the software and features of the Glowforge that is making people hold on? I purposefully have not jumped head first into learning the laser cutting world just yet. I don’t want to get overly excited just yet since there is still a while to go. Also, I am using a CNC router that keeps me busy. But, does anyone know information about other machines out there that are comparable and why they wouldn’t just pass on the Glowforge due to availability?

Thanks in advance!


PocketNC has been pulling at my strings since it came out. I won’t bother with a chinese laser because I’m not interested in having to hack/upgrade my way into a final product. I have seriously considered just cancelling my order and buying it when its actually being shipped out and all the feedback and reviews show its worth the purchase/or not. This special pricing has been so low below the MSRP that my special pricing doesn’t seem that special anymore. Pulling my cash out and paying $6500 or whatever the actualy MSRP for my PRO ends up once its been proven tried and true doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea.

I’m definitely not one of the cheerleaders here. Just hopeful its worth it in the end.


It crossed my mind, because I do like to explore the options available to me. For me, I purchased a 3d printer a few years ago. Hours, weeks and months of frustrations failing to get decent prints and eventually it failed, becoming a giant paperweight until I sold it for 1/3 of what I paid. As someone much more comfortable with software than hardware, I’m more than willing to wait for something where I don’t have to tinker with the hardware, because in the end, I’ll likely be producing more items that come out better on this earlier than I would be if I had to start with a different laser.


I have a PocketNC milling machine. I haven’t used it yet, but after looking at their offerings their laser seems like a good unit. I am waiting on the GlowForge for the ease of use. One of the reasons I chose my 3D printer is the ease of use. I have three printers now and have run close to 30 pounds of material through them combined and have had very little maintenance and problems to deal with. Ease of hardware maintenance and software workflow makes a huge difference when you are working on projects. This makes the GlowForge worth waiting for in my view.


Ease of use is a massive contributing factor when choosing equipment, you’re 100% correct. One of the main reasons I’m holding on. When the start up rep raps were coming up dealing with all of the extrusion and hot end issues, to then upgrade to a ultimaker 2 was night and day. Learned a lot of lessons dealing with diy kits.


I’ll echo statements above that ease of use is a big factor for me.
I’ve had similar experiences with some 3d printers. I had one sitting around for a year because there was an issue with prints leaning, and I didn’t have time to troubleshoot and fix it. I don’t have any immediate need, so I’m more than willing to wait.

On the flip side, there have been a few people on the forums that have purchased a cheaper Chinese laser while they are waiting. Here are some threads about there experience. There are probable some more threads out there, too.

I think it really depends on what you want to do with the Glowforge and if you are willing to wait for it.


The deciding factor for me was the ease of venting. With any other machine at comparable price you have to install separate venting and air blowing and the ones I saw in use were bulky, noisy and fairly expensive.


The promise of the ease of use, coupled with the embedded air filter are what got me interested in the first place. The discount from MSRP is what is keeping me maintaining my order. If we have another delay beyond December, I wont be hanging around to find out when it will ship. At some point I’ll find a different unit to buy and look at the glowforge once its out in production and available within a few weeks ARO.

The promises are nice, but its just promises at this point. No guarantee on how really easy it will be.


I hear you on the 75/25 “Should I stay or should I go” ratio . FWIW, I genuinely believe that this will be an excellent product once it ships… I’m just not sure if I can wait that long. I’d been considering a laser cutter for some time and was just about ready to pull the trigger on a FSlaser when I heard about Glowforge.

Much of my hesitation with FSlaser was due to the fact that I’d heard some poor reviews about their tech support/customer service; so when GF came along with a similar product + superior features at a comparable price point, I felt it was worth the wait. That was when the scheduled delivery date was Dec '15. While I expected that it might be longer than that (when I placed my preorder I was anticipating delivery as late as June '16) I did not expect this long. The busy season for my business is about to kick in any minute now, and it won’t let up until the new year … so this is a very tough wait for me and I’m definitely feeling some stress about being laser-less through my busiest time of year, and potentially wrecking my shoulder again while I wait for my GF. Of course I can rent time on a laser at a tech shop while I wait for GF, but my closest tech shop is not so close or convenient, so that certainly adds to my expense and hassle during an already intense time of year.

I’m too much of a tech newb to even consider the Chinese/eBay lasers, but reviews for FSlaser seem to have improved over the last year. The price point for their starter/hobby laser is similar to what I paid for the GF pro, so it’s tempting. A FSlaser would come out to be bit more expensive once I add on needed features that are already included in the Pro GF (cooling, vent, etc) but that added expense might be offset by the convenience and savings of not having to pay for a tech shop membership for the next few months.

So this morning coffee ramble may be waaay more info than you wanted, but it takes you through the other options that I’ve considered, and why. With all of that said, I’m still trying very hard to stay patient and hang in for my GF. My overall sense is that it will be a superior product with better pricing and customer service (also, GF is a relatively local business for me). For me, these are all compelling reasons to hang in, but it’s not an easy hang by any stretch of the imagination.


I haven’t considered doing that now (I get my laser needs satisfied by a 40W Chinese and a 60W Red Sail so I don’t need the GF). But, if December doesn’t materialize then I’ll seriously consider it because as you noted there are some other options in the $4K range. Based on my experience with an upgrade of my K40 (and the 100W experience posted here) I’d likely go the Chinese laser route again with a large format bed and 130W tube with a Smoothie control board upgrade and LaserWeb open-source software control. But that’s because I’m comfortable with the hardware tweaking.

I bought the GF so I didn’t need to mess with the machine and because there’d be U.S. based real tech support vs. being forced into a d-i-y and the kindness of strangers in an Internet forum for help.


Buy a $300 chinese laser. You will quickly realize you need more bed space and more power. You can cut through things with it, but it takes SEVERAL passes to get through. Having one of these has made me realize Im more in the market for a large bed laser with about 100 watts or more.

Im going to hold on to the glowforge order, because at this point in time I cant afford a name brand laser, and they say the components and functionality will be quality, which is a relief after dealing with a cheap chinese laser. (power levels jumping from 30% to 80% randomly, poor venting, a bit of pre-work to get it functional). However I know at this point the glowforge will probably not meet my needs in the long run and I will need something more powerful.

I was pretty excited for the optical alignment of things, but at this point its not really that big of a deal for me. Ive squared out my bed, squared out the cut area, and measure everything im going to cut for size and placement down to .1mm or less.

The things I am looking forward to are 3d engraving, turn over cut continuance, quality components, and venting (if these things are what they say they are). If they arent, ill happily hock it for a trotec/epilog/fiber laser down payment.

In the meantime I am highly considering getting an 80-130w chinese laser with larger bed and motorized Z-axis because Ive almost killed the $300 one I picked up earlier this year. Im also highly considering just building one from scratch. We’ll see.


I’m sorely tempted by the PocketCNC, but not too thrilled with the specs. It’s a little surprising that you haven’t used it yet - you must have great restraint!


For the small parts I need, the PocketNC will probably work just fine. I am patient. The biggest reason I haven’t used it is that I don’t have a dust control situation for it and I don’t have room to set it up in the garage at the moment. Plus the garage is 105 degrees most of the time and I can’t stand to do detail work in that heat. So one of two things have to happen: I have to build a dust control enclosure for it or the temps have to go down and I have to clean out the garage. Kind of a draw which happens first.


If I already had a Glowforge, I’d be chomping at the bit to get a PocketNC. That thing looks slick. Small work area but as I’m not planning on large things totally workable for me.


Oh, trust me, I am annoyed at the state of things, but right now I have to just be patient until I can have a work area to safely run the PocketNC. Then I have a list projects for it. I have probably bought 250.00 in cutters for it over the last several months.


I feel you. I sometimes am strongly tempted to go with something like the 40W Full Spectrum that Rockler sells for $3850 (with a removable floor so it could, for example, engrave something on top of a large sheet of wood, or on your sidewalk, or the floor of your house), but the promised ease of use in the GF software is still keeping me on board, as is the fact that I’d still be adding on another $400 to $2000 for a filter I’ve already paid for on my 45W Pro. When I think of buying something Chinese to play with, I’ll just glance at the Facebook laser cutters’ group and see people talking about the kinds of problems they have that I have no interest in fixing (unusable software, random cutting, constant misalignments, shorts, fires, etc.) and let go of that like a hot potato. I want functionality, and anything I don’t use because it won’t work is still expensive, no matter how little I paid for it.

EDIT: Did some more research because the latest version of the FS has some new features I hadn’t heard about, and now I’m seeing they have a hellaciously bad customer service reputation, to the point that they push their customers to sign nondisparagement agreements before they’ll fix some pretty egregious warranty problems. That takes them off the table for me.



Whew, I had not heard of a company doing that before. I can’t imagine it happens very often, but JEEZ!


Very good point. I have been down the same road with my X Carve CNC as you have with your printer. It’s so frustrating.


That is what I did,
Going with an Epilog.


The Epilog’s are super easy to use. Since they utilize a print driver just like any old InkJet printer. Use whatever program that you want and print it just like a document out of Word. Hell if you are just using text you could use Microsoft Word.