PRU limitation question

This is a question for pre-release unit holders who have experience with other lasers. These last few weeks, I’m beginning to really feel the depth limitation of the glowforge. I’m hoping that the ease of use makes up for the limited functionality. I’m wondering if the possibilities are so great with the glowforge that you don’t really mind only having 2 inches of depth, or if you find yourself constantly trying workarounds and realizing you can’t do things as a result of those limitations. My second question is, if money weren’t rally a big factor, would you opt for a machine with more possibilities (i.e., greater power and larger working dimensions) or is the user interface such an advantage, that you would still stick with the glowforge.


Okay, don’t beat me up for answering despite this being my first laser. I think I have some insight despite that.
Before ordering the GF I got a small cnc and a 3d printer and they have taught me that every tool has definite limitations. Each user has to decide what limitations can be worked around and what are deal breakers. If your primary use case is to engrave really big items then the vertical room in the GF will be a deal breaker. If on the other hand, you can imagine lots of things to do with the depth available…

At to $$ being no factor, well then I’d keep the GF for its strengths and get a $25-30K Epilog for other use cases. Thing is, $$ is a factor to many if not all of us. You won’t find anything that comes close for anywhere near the price you pre-ordered for. Even to order today is a preaty good deal in my openon.


I got this one as a training laser, so I can’t answer yet either. :relaxed:

I think most of the laser-knowledgable PRU users are at the Faire, although @jamesdhatch is still here and might jump in in a bit.


Not a PRU user. But have another laser which I am free to modify for any added features I want.

Money being no object, I would indeed get a laser with significant Z height. And another laser with massive bed size (cut and engrave a full door type of size, which I haven’t seen available with significant Z height capacity as well so far). And also a Glowforge.

Loads of what I do on my laser can be done on a Glowforge. The reliability and ease of interface would be what draw me to using the Glowforge whenever the job will fit there. The other machines would get used when a specific job is outside the bounds of the Glowforge.

Same thing happened with my 3D printers really. I started with a tiny PLA only printer. I upgraded to a large dual extruder with heated bed. I also got an SLA printer. I have since given away the dual extrusion printer, and rarely touch the SLA printer. What I need to print prints great on the little PLA guy, which is my reliable go-to.


I have kinda sorta access to a big printer at the local makerspace (it’s often overbooked). But my experience with that has been that relearning the UI takes a significant chunk of each session. If money were no object I would still have to rearrange my life so that I was lasering things on a regular enough basis to have those tools at my mental fingertips.

If glowforge is successful, I would expect things like the GFUI to become more common on other lasers. And I would also expect there to be additions to the GF line that addressed the current limitations.


That’s a great point. I’ve been working with the assumption that glowforge is not only the best bang for your buck in lasers, but also that it’s really the best laser for me at this point. I still think that’s true, but started to get a little range anxiety. I do think future generations of the glowforge will probably address the depth issue and possibly the power issue as well. If not, more powerful and larger lasers will probably develop better user interface. Either way, probably worth waiting for those advancements.


I think the current model is constrained by the target price and shipping cost. It would be very easy for Glowforge to make a bigger model at a higher cost once they have this model up and running but it would need to have a big enough market to pay for the case tooling or have a more traditional low volume case.


I know nothing about lasers or injection molding but with the tube on the gantry I can imagine that just making a deeper case and making the heght of the gantry/head adjustable (I think I have my terms correct) could give you alot of the z-axis that we want so bad at only a moderate cost increase. Because really the table size is certainly big enough for most of our needs.

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Yes a bigger box wouldn’t cost a lot more to injection mould but a new tool for a bigger box is likely several hundred thousand dollars. So for injection moulding to be economical you need large production volumes to amortise the tool cost over.


At some point a bigger box will likely cost more to ship. Maybe they could do like the bandsaw people do and have an extension piece that fits in the middle (with passthroughs for all the sensor wiring).

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The K40 is about the same as the GF in size (although only 14"w bed vs 20) and the Redsail is bigger for everything - bed size, power, Z-axis.

I could have spent less than the GF on an even bigger Chinese laser (130W, 3’x4’ is my current idea of the “sweet spot” for laser size). I could have gotten a used Epilog for the same price.

But, those bigger machines are really too large to fit in most home environments - including mine. And I can do 90% or more of what I want to do with the GF. The rest the Redsail can handle up to probably the last 1%. Maybe that’s because I self-limit. But I have a friend with a massive 6 foot wide 180W laser so if size really mattered I’ve got it covered.

So I did choose the GF. It fits a niche for me. I haven’t had either the K40 or Redsail powered up since I got the PRU - I’ve been trying to put it through its paces and haven’t had a need for bigger size or power. I like the GFUI. It’s not necessarily better than the Epilog direct to laser (using a “print” driver from AI) but it is easy to use and suited for new to laser users while still working well for experienced users.

I’ve found Proofgrade to be a huge selling point despite my initial “meh” reaction when they announced it. Now I wish there were more materials available.

At the end of the day though, it’s this place that makes it a definite yes that I’d buy it again. This forum has exposed some great creative ideas and people to me in a wide variety​ of laser and non-laser arenas.

I do know that no matter what tool you buy for whatever things you might do, sooner or later you’ll wish for something bigger or better for some project that you conceive - possibly because you have the tool you do have. If you’ve bought in, don’t second guess yourself. I can’t imagine anyone who bought in based on the GF pre-order solicitation being disappointed. :slight_smile: