Proofgrade materials

Hi everybody,

I recently search informations on the forum on proofgrade materials. I don’t find some answers about some interrogations.

First :
Most topics about projects on glowforge seems to be made with proofgrade materials. It looks great. But as a European future happy owner, I imagine that costs for a wood or acrylic board will certainly be prohibitive with shipping and customs. How will proofgrade materials be available to glowforgers out from USA?

It’s quite clear that it is not a first on line question according to soft and hardware issues but is there an idea of how will proofgrade materials be available to sale (glowforge internet site, partnership with distributors…)?

Second: Are any of beta testers using other materials than proofgrade? Are calibration settings very differents from proofgrade materials? Is it difficult to adapt settings to a new material? Is there a tutorial to identify settings before using a new material (not an exotic or an unknown one but a basic material from another supplier)?

Third : as an upcycling big fan, do you use “trash” materials that you use to upcycle them on laser projects? Is there ways you know to find very low price materials laserable ?

Have a nice week end and stay creative folks!



I partially answer on of my own question with this : Resources for tests on laser cutting various materials


I think the answer to your second question is yes, they are using non-proofgrade materials. Here are some examples. There are probably some more out there. If you check out the Made On A Glowforge section, you can see some of the cool stuff they have been doing.


And for your 3rd question there are lots of ways to recycle/upcycle. Secondhand clothing stores are a great place to find cheap materials - leather handbags and jackets can be cut up for use as renewed leather. Denim materials are great for fabric lasering.

Recycled wood can be found by disassembling old furniture. Scraps of stock from cabinet shops or flooring installers can be a source of cheap wood. Sign shops often have odd sized pieces of plastics. Retailers will often have materials they sell but that have gotten chipped or pieces broken off while on the shelf. They usually throw them out but you can find a use for a 12" square piece of acrylic with a corner broken off :slightly_smiling_face:

Any place that makes something is likely to have scraps or extra stock of whatever they use. If they’re laserable then you’ve found a supply of cheap material. Just need to find a project it’s useful for.


I use a lot of different materials in the glowforge. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to proofgrade. It’s not as if they invented a whole new material, there are a lot of places that sell materials very similar to proofgrade out there. The ply is basically fiberboard with veneer on it


There are many sources for materials other than Glowforge Proofgrade. While Proofgrade works beautifully with little need for setup in the interface, you still have to spend most of your time in designing objects. It’s not too hard and doesn’t take too much time to test materials that are new.

Look for seven or less millimeter thick materials, especially wood. The thick papier cartonné of food boxes such as used for pasta or cereal will work great as will carton.

I have done many different types of materials. I would not worry about this factor, as long as you can find good cast acrylic.


I’d like to see an official response from glowforge on this.

I absolutely require that on Day 1 of production launch that Glowforge offers a table of settings to use non-Proofgrade materials on their laser. All “professional” companies offer tables of power, speed, material settings so that people can use the laser for common materials.

I had a functional ULS-25E a few years ago… and the user manual had settings for every common material. At; the Tortec lasers have a table sheet for power, settings for materials. I expect nothing less from Glowforge.

Outside any credits I might receive for being an early buyer - I have zero intention of using proofgrade materials with my GlowForge.

This needs to be very clearly documented in the FAQ in short order; else I really will need to look for that Cancel and Refund button.

Oh, that’s too bad.
(Here’s the link if you decide that you need it.)


Glowforge/@dan has stated many times in this forum, they will NOT provide settings to be used with non-ProofGrade material, because there is no way to guarantee results using those materials with specific settings, because materials are going to vary from vendor to vendor, production batch to production batch.

Between Trotec, Universal, and Epilog, they all have recommended settings tables on their websites and it’s easy enough to use those as reference.


Beat me to it. There’s so much general information out there, why would Glowforge bother? I mean, ultimately people would just bitch about the settings being off for their particular weird material. Trial and error is really going to be the only way, using existing known info from tried and true companies such as Epilog and the like.

If this is, as you say, a requirement for you, I imagine you’re going to want the refund. I don’t work for Glowforge, but I can pretty much guarantee you that requirement will absolutely not be met. Glowforge has its faults, but it wouldn’t even cross my mind that they’d do this. I don’t have any remotely-similar expectation or requirement.


I think you’re missing something here… There’s no such thing.

Good luck with whatever you end up purchasing though!


Do you own or have used any real lasers cutters/engravers professionally? I can state with 100% certain that I have (as a hobby)… and in every case if I have a 1/8" piece of acrylic (doesn’t matter who made it, what color it is, etc); that any professional laser cutter will provide good first pass power and speed setting that will cut the material. The same for 1/8" plywood or Etching aluminum, whatever.

Saddens me that Glowforge had such potential … and now; looks like it’ll be a worthless paperweight. Too bad I can’t transfer the 7 referrals and Pro pricing to someone who really does want it.

Thanks to Jules for the cancel link. Gonna sleep on this; but probably cancel sometime this weekend.

That’s great! Hope it continues to work out that way for you!
I’ve offered the best advice I can. Tom: OUT.

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It’s an easy fix man. You just check out the settings being used for proofgrade materials to use as a reference point. I’d also recommend running a standard test on each material you get ahold of. That’s what I do.

Once you get an idea of how one type of material works it gets a lot easier to go from there. You’ll know what power and speed to use based on what you’ve used on other similar materials. I get most of mine first try.

It’s good to have a visual library for reference anyways to see how a material takes to different powers of engrave. It’ll help you tweak your engraves to get the best range of shade of color.

If that’s not enough, remember that it’s just a laser. It still follows the laws of physics. Settings on other lasers of the same power are going to be very close to what you would use here. I don’t think it’s worth giving up such an awesome laser because they didn’t provide you with something that already exists out there.

You’ll be really happy once you get it. I can almost guarantee it.


So you don’t have to scroll back up.


The business structure and concept of Glowforge is for end user simplicity. Put the material in, choose your design and push the button.

Their recurring revenue is selling Proofgrade material and other items through the catalog.

If you plan to not use their materials, it is your choice. GF :glowforge: will not prevent you from doing so. But it will be up to you to determine power, speed and material choices.

The forums will be able to give you some ideas (as to those settings), but GF :glowforge: cannot be expected to provide a table (both legally and accurately) for materials an end user gets from sources and suppliers that GF :glowforge: has no knowledge or experience with.

You are not prevented from adjustments in the software, but even “professional” companies state “your mileage may vary” with their tables. As it is, most just copy what they find others post.


True. I always treat a “big laser company’s” recommendations as just that - recommendations. And they’re almost never spot on. Like @takitus I do speed & power tests on all new materials and again on a familiar material before doing a big/important project. Even with known materials and vendors I get slightly different results from the same settings. Things like dirt/dust/residue build up on mirrors and lenses, declining tube power as it ages and how the material ages as it sits in my stock all can affect the settings.

I also like to do minimum power cuts - I get less char and residue that way. Often the recommendations are much more than that just to insure it will generally work for everyone. That leaves more charring than is necessary.

Engraves, especially grayscale are an art form with any laser. Even regular engraves the power/speed settings I use depend on what depth engrave I want.

There is no such thing as a “correct” or “best” list of settings from any laser manufacturer (possibly GF’s Proofgrade but I don’t have one so can’t know that for sure right now).

Anyone who believes there is magic in a manufacturer’s recommended settings is likely either not an experienced laser user or not currently getting the best results they could.

If the provision of recommended settings is a must-have for a buyer, they ought not buy a GF. But the lack of GF’s recommendations for non-proofgrade materials does not affect its ability to be used as a laser to make wonderful things.


Yes I wonder how that will affect proofgrade settings.


I’ve had to move on to other materials than the Proofgrade after only a week (Waiting on re-supply from GF…I waited too long before sending that email and need more Proof!) and it’s pretty easy to cut a 1 inch test square at a corner somewhere to see how it cuts. The engrave settings are pretty simple as well.

Couple of test cuts I had lying around: Blue Mirrored Acrylic and 1/4 inch Birch ply (from Lowe’s. Sux BTW…Proofgrade is much better, thicker, heavier, more uniform, and has a nice finish on it so I don’t have to do a lot of finishing work unless I want to. The hardware store ply is full of knots and very warpy. Nor is it anywhere near 1/4 inch thick. More like .194 inch.)

Definitely not rocket science. Would my engraves stand up to Philip’s? Of course not, but eventually they’ll get better as I gather more information on what works and what doesn’t. (Building my own list, which I would trust over any published one anyway.) :slight_smile:


Something was uniform as acrylic, the Proofgrade settings will work for you. No need to reference anything, the settings are already there for you.:+1:

For other self sourced materials the consistency is not a given, and it’s not possible to publish a table that will produce consistent results across the spectrum of differences in them. A starting point is all any of them can provide. It’s up to the user to dial them in for any particular application.
Having experience with a hobby laser, you must have encountered that already - the recommended settings versus the results.

A 40 watt laser is a 40 watt laser. No difference, so any general recommended settings for any other 40 watt laser would be as accurate as anything Glowforge could provide.
The recommendation of Takitus holds true for any non-proofgrade material on any laser. The only difference in the Glowforge is they have made it easier, making available programed settings for a premium material, no guessing.

I’m afraid the only ultimatum you can require of Glowforge is a refund, and we all believe that would be a mistake. :wink:

We know you want an official answer, and I’m sure @dan will address your question, but hopefully our input will be of some use to you.