This is a quick progress report on owning a Glowforge for the last 7 months (or so).
Is it all its cracked up to be?
Yes. For me, its makes rapid prototyping rapid. In the 2D department cutting/engraving something, it is significantly faster than either my 3D printer or the CNCs. For my wife- She is using it. Thou she has full ‘sudo’ access to the other devices. She chooses not to use them. But the Glowforge it’s an alt-tab away. And she uses it regularly (in fact she is using it right now)
Is it ready for primetime?
Hardware wise I was concerned about this for the first 4 months. The unit we had previously had. Um, issues. But it was recalled back to the mothership a couple months back and replaced with its more sophisticated and refined older brother. We’ve had zero hardware issues with this rev. This unit has more power and is significantly more responsive than the previous unit. With that said, the SPU I used had even more power. Speed was hard to gauge as we were using it via a cellular hotspot.
As for the UI- it’s has gone through many, many iterations. And has ping-pong from better to worst. As of I’d say 3.5 weeks ago it seems to have stabled out. I have some issues with it (cosmetic and user experience) and have reported it. Just waiting and hoping those suggestions make it thru the cracks. Otherwise- for what it’s doing. It’s pretty good.
Is there anything you wish it could do?
For what it is and who it’s marketed for. Nope. It’s fine the way it is. But does it have me looking at other lasers? Yes. Mainly for feature sets. (See Epilog Zing 24 Laser /w Rotary Attachment). Thou I hated the ‘3D Printer’ marketing speak that’s used for the Glowforge- But I can respect the ‘Printer’ portion of that title. It is as simple to use as your plain jane HP laser jet style printer.
Proofgrade- What say you?
This I have to laugh about. When I first read about it. I laughed. Thought it was the stupidest, money grab idea I’ve ever heard. But after using it. I am going to have to eat those words. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again. Fire and forget. Load web page. Upload vector/raster. Pick what you want to do. Cut, Engrave or Score. Load Proofgrade. Click print. Press button. Madness. Absolute madness. This is my wife’s favorite feature. Hands down.
What about the camera?
The alignment since we’ve been owning a PRU it has gone thru phases. From dead nuts to ‘what zip code are we in?’ But currently, it’s filled in into the ‘acceptable’ category. Great for using every sq. mm of a material. Not so great when aligning something freehanded. Jigs are your friend. Knowing this and accepting this helps. I’ve tried all kinds of fancy solutions to pre-line up stuff. But using some kind of disposable material as marker/jig outperforms any elaborate method in squaring up a material.
Would you refer someone at this point in time to get a glowforge knowing what you know and with the experience?
Yes. And here’s is my referral code.
But seriously. It’s simple to use and setup. Everything you need is in one chassis. I was able to get the first cut/engrave out without looking at the manual. My wife hasn’t asked me for help since owning it.
Do you find yourself using your CNCs less after owning a PRU?
Kinda. I look at the Glowforge as a supplement to a CNC vs. an absolute replacement in most cases. But having something that cut and engraves most materials in-house is hella nice. On the other hand using it to add ‘pizazz’ to something that has been milled and powder coated is nice. And acrylic. I love being about to make defusers and light pipes for other projects. So I’d have to say ‘Yes’ technically. But only slightly.
Since owning the PRU was there any software you had to learn?
Illustrator. I went from disliking it to absolutely owning it. I am as proficient with it as I am with Fusion 360 at this point. But Fusion 360 will always be my go to. But as for the graphical stuff? Illustrator all the way.
(I am not saying YOU need to learn it. Just saying that I needed to learn it. I am not a fan of Corel or Inkscape.)