Awaiting delivery this Friday!!! My PG will arrive today. I love the idea of PG materials and that cute little QR code that tells my GF everything it needs to know. But in the long run, how does PG compare to non in terms of price, quality and selection/variety?
Depends on how you value your time. You can get decent mainstream materials but the finishing & masking steps will eat up a fair amount of time you don’t have with PG.
I use a fair number of non-PG woods including Baltic Birch which is a good alternative to PG Maple but still use a ton of PG just for the speed with which I can knock out a project.
I don’t do a lot with PG acrylic thought-out I’ve found that cast acrylic is pretty standardized and doesn’t gain much to have the PG label.
And in term of settings, are they really very different between a proofgrade and a non proofgrade equivalent or small adjustments?
PG material is supposed to be more consistent, non would need to be tested before any large project to ensure the previous settings were correct for this individual piece.
Depending on what you’re making, there might be a lot of allowance, but some tasks require quite precise settings to come out as expected.
It depends. Sometimes the proofgrade will work, especially with acrylics, but it should be a good starting place for finding your settings. I’d plan on always doing a test before pressing the glowing button for a whole design.
For the plywood, veneers and solid woods, what’s your time worth? They are more expensive, but they have a good finish. If you’re going to be doing a very high quality finish, or have to include non-proofgrade woods, I’d go all non-proofgrade. Another thing to consider is how much will I be using? If it is something you won’t be using often, or don’t need in large quantities, the ease of using it will outweigh any small savings.
The quality seems high to me. One thing about pre-masked wood products is you can’t see the grain. Not a huge deal, however, as the material seems pretty consistent piece to piece. They may never use really interesting grain patterns because 1) it comes pre-masked and 2) my guess is interesting grain equals inconsistent settings.
The selection is limited, but it’ll grow over time. For most people I suspect it will work for most things. My take is that it is nice to have a stock of proofgrade materials for a base set of supplies. I can source non-proofgrade for specific projects. My pantry is stocked with a supply of ingredients I can combine to make most of the things I cook; the same concept applies to my supply of materials for the glowforge (not all, but mostly proofgrade.)
As mentioned, there are cheaper supplies to be had if you have some tools and are willing to spend a little effort.
The Proofgrade does have a more reliable consistency though (no hallows, knots, facing plugs, etc), plus you do not have to waste time surface sanding for the masking and sizing the wood for the bed.
I do 4x8 sheets at Lowes or Home Depot, and overall they can be under $2.00 a board. The store will rip it into four 20 inch sections for you with a 16 inch short section (even if you got a table saw at home, this makes them very easy to lug out of the store).
Once you get home, convert those 20 inch slaps into 4 12x20 sheets and you have an impressive pile of 20 boards when done.
Now the fun. Clean up the edges and lightly sand the faces of the good looking boards (for better masking attachment). Both sides if you think it will be something important. Make a separate pile of any boards with defects, knots, etc, for scrapper trials since they will not need masking.
So there you go, how much is your time worth? If willing to spend it as mentioned above, you can get 20 boards for 1 to 2 bucks apiece, depending on which ply you buy.
Even an expensive sheet at $30.00 plus a$10.00 roll of blue painters tape (if using that) still only costs 2 bucks each if you have an afternoon to spend on it.
OR --> Just go to the Glowforge, pop in a chunk of Proofgrade, and vapor that puppy.
Tips for buying materials at Lowe's / Amazon
I use a lot of 1/8" baltic Birch ply to manufacture RC aircraft frames, wing ribs etc. I tried the PG ply and found it cuts nice but is much weaker due to the thicker inner core and very thin outer cores. So I switched back to none PG for a stronger product. Some times I use the super thin and cheap white low stick shelving paper from a dollar store or just cut the wood without.
Amen! I’m trying to work my way through that pile of cheap boards. I don’t even like them for prototyping, because they aren’t the same thickness as the PG stuff. (Not to mention you can mess things up for yourself pretty thoroughly if you let the cheap crap masking tape get away from you during a cut.)
Where do you like to source your acrylic?
I will say, at least in comparison to Inventables, the proofgrade stuff seems to be a little cheaper.
The PG acrylic is good—and competitively priced, especially so with the 10% founder’s discount. But if you have the Pro, I do like getting 12x24 sheets, because for a similar buy-cost I get a little bit more material and it’s still easy to work with.
Delvie’s has a wider selection of acrylic colors and thicknesses than the Glowforge Store—though for some of the very niche (and expensive) acrylics, you still need to shop around at Inventables or elsewhere. I’ve also purchased at some laser supply stores on Etsy (for example for Baltic Birch B/BB ply) and been very happy with the quality so far.
I get cast acrylic off Amazon or from Johnson Plastics. There’s also a local shop that carries sign making supplies but they’re walk-up only.
I’ll have to keep an eye on amazon. And I’ve not spent much time on Johnson Plastics, but I guess I’m about to start.
.250 at 12”x12” for $13 vs. ~$25 at Inventables.
One thing I don’t see mentioned a lot is that while proofgrade stuff comes finished, it comes finished. Lol. Yes, you save time you would spend finishing the wood, if you chose to finish the wood. But, with that, you don’t have the option to do anything else. No dying, no stains, no different types of finishes, maybe not even painting. If youre gluing a lot of surfaces together, you might even run into problems with the finished surfaces.
Honestly, before I got my glowforge, I thought I would be using tons of proofgrade but nope. The finish it comes with (glossy, clear, and hard - sort of plasticy) isn’t bad, but its the only option. And if you want to get a little adventurous, you probably don’t want go pay a premium only to remove it all and then refinish.
So, imo, I would say the quality of proofgrade is excellent, the price is good/decent, but the variety is very low. At least for wood.