Picking the right Laser for the User

Don’t you get a mental picture of some 1950s SciFi flick where the mad scientist’s laser gets out of control and burns through to the center of the earth releasing trapped mutants onto the surface who kill us all? :smile:


I think that’s also the case for a lot of other laser cutters. IIRC, it’s not clear whether we’ll be able to “print” to a Glowforge or not, which is sorta ironic given that it’s being called a “3D Laser Printer”.

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There are things that the Glowforge can do that no other cutter can. The main one being the ability to “trace cut/engrave” around a hand sketch. I just lost faith in their ability to deliver these “Features”. Mainly because they kept asking which features we really, really wanted.

I can’t speak to workflow issues that folks are encountering and need to plan for. Getting a first time laser means a learning curve. I wonder how long it really would take to get the Glowforge into printing production items and earning back the purchase price. However, I have a feeling that there is going to be some happy Glowforge owners before December. Maybe a 1st delivery/reception date topic pool is in order.

I think another way of looking at their asking us about what features we really want or are counting on is another way of double checking that they have responded to the initial expectations that folks had when seeing the initial promo video. Glowforge could just have easily said, we will only make work what was specifically mentioned in promo materials and can’t be held responsible for anything else.

Perhaps it’s just a way of saying, “Does anyone have to potty before we leave?” Yes, you could tell them that they’ll have to hold it and that they should have thought of that before. But you also save the inevitable becomes sometimes people really have to go!


I believe I’ve said this before, but just in case: we asked because we are already putting Glowforge units in people’s hands. We want to be sure the features people care about most are getting finished first, and that the features that will get the most use get the most polish.


I love my XCarve :slight_smile:

Got my Xcarve last month -Haven;t had time to unbox it yet . I need a longer weekend to try and set it all up so I can try it out.t,Too much going on with work, life and ,propjects and bills. Soon I hope… soon to be CNCing


Yikes! That’s really, really scary. I mean, what does it say about the company culture if they’d sooner try to silence unhappy customers, rather than correct the issues that made them unhappy to begin with?

Were these recent complaints? I ask BC I’d seen some very angry forum posts about them in the past (which is why I held off on purchasing from them) but many of the posts that I’ve seen over the last year or so gave me the impression that they’d made some big improvements on that front. If this is recent news (and they’ve not improved) then I agree - totally off the table.

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Yeah, it’s kind of amazing. If you search “Full Spectrum” on the many online laser users’ communities, most of them have members saying some very, very bad things about Full Spectrum’s post-purchase customer service, and the worst stories oftentimes end with the company saying they won’t fix some undeniably unacceptable problem unless the unfortunate buyer signs a gag contract. It’s just gross.

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White lab coat, hair flying in the blowback from the “drill site,” maniacal laughter, and all.


My concern was a little for the claimed accuracy (0.002") but mostly for the modest power (104 watts or 1/8 HP, I think). Maybe the spindle upgrade boosts the HP a bit. My old Sherline lathe and mill have ~1/4 HP motors and get taxed pretty easily on anything tougher than aluminum or brass.

I’m in the midwest and went to great lengths to put almost all my machine tools in the basement as I absolutely detest working at high temperatures and high humidity. It was well worth the effort but I’m afraid those tools are down there for good now.


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I have run brass and aluminum with a hand-held rotary tool similar to a Dremel with nice carbide bits and while you have to take it a little slow, if your feeds and speeds are good you can run them all day. I use a Proxxon and it works great. I was able to machine a slot in my router table for a new ruler by hand with a carbide bit. With smaller machines you just take a little longer. While the 0.002 is advertised, I assume with good CNC plan and toolpaths you can get better than that. 0.002 is pretty good though.

I’m in a similar situation in that I’m realizing I’ll need a larger cutting bed and more power than the GF offers, so I’m strongly considering bailing on my GF Pro (no filter) order. Obviously, I have concerns about software and software-related ease of use with other lasers (after all, the software is the primary reason I went for the Glowforge to begin with), but I’m not convinced that said issues would be enough to discourage me. I mean, my primary use is cutting with a little engraving every now and then–3D engraving isn’t a huge consideration and neither is the sketch tracing stuff, as I design everything in CAD programs.


If you are almost exclusively cutting, then laser interfaces are all but interchangeable. Alignment issues will be your largest cause for concern (and with any but the cheapest of lasers, that is a “do it once” affair. Annual touch-ups at worst).

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Yes, but what about a comparative $2000 Chinese laser? $300 lasers are not even close to ballpark wattage. Those are basically toys.

My $300 K40 does everything my 60W Red Sail one does - just slower (it’s 32W vs 60W) and smaller individual pieces (12x10 vs 18x24"). They are fully functional lasers that just need a tinkerer to use - and they’re a great platform for upgrading electronics, software, etc.

I used to think the little 2W LED ones were toys but I’ve seen some nice stuff from folks using those too.


That was kinda what I was saying. Something with large bed space and more wattage. I have a work crunch til september, and once thats past Im going to decide whether to build a large base laser or buy a chinese one. Im thinking building is the way to go for me though. So many more options

If you go the DIY route, please create build log of some sort somewhere and let us know where it is located.

yeah, If I’m going to have something to 'mess with", it’s got to be at least fast and powerful, hence the more relative price comparison. a $1800-3K chinese laser will get you in the wattage and size ballpark of a glowforge.

Not exactly. $900-1000 gets you in the size & power ballpark. You want what is advertised on ebay as a 50W machine (the advertised power of these is the upper limit when overdriven which shortens tube life - my “40W” is actually 32W). The 40s have a work surface of about 12x10" depending on the mods you do the the bed that comes with it. Most of us rip out the stock bed and put in our own to get to something in the 12x10" range. The 50W Chinese lasers are almost all at least as big as the GF (12x20).

A 3K Chinese laser starts getting you into the 100-130W and 600 or 900x1200 bed size with adjustable Z-axis and a pass thru.

What it doesn’t come with is good support, local knowledge, auto focus, line trace, proofgrade materials, design library, etc. It may or may have basic safety features like lid interlocks, chiller or air interlocks, etc.