You’ve already told us about your other favorite tools, so this question is about the road less traveled.
Is there a machine you did consider, or perhaps are still considering, purchasing instead of your Glowforge? How did you ultimately decide on your Glowforge?
Having purchased my first maker machine less than three years ago (a small CNC) and then added a 3d printer, I had thought a laser cutter would be very useful but everything with any reputation had a price point that stopped me dead in my tracks. So for laser cutter/engravers there was nothing to be considered until the GF.
I had considered buying an X-Carve or Shapoko3. But between the size and dust, I figured the laser would be more useful and less hassle (and probably a good bit quieter as well). I did end up getting a cheap CNC mill, just to learn and experiment with.
I had looked at other laser cutters/engravers - but couldn’t justify the cost for good ones, or the hassle for the really cheap ones (yeah, I looked at forums for the devices - those Chinese devices seem to have more problems than features).
Prior to stumbling across the GF startup, I was looking at the Carvewright CNC as well as an Epilog. The price of the Epilog is what held me up ( for the use I needed) With the GF a fraction of the Epilog price, as well as seeming to be more user friendly, I took the plunge. I did pickup a K40 a few months ago ( still haven’t powered it on yet…). Not in a business but I enjoy creating so I thought ( and still do) the GF was worth the wait ( Currently still eyeing CNC machines as well).
I first started out by dreaming about an Epilog, which is not only a damn fine laser, but their HQ is just down the road from me in Golden, CO. However, $8000 for an entry-level machine was just too much for me to bite off at that point, and the next better one up that I really wanted was $11,000.
I then tried to achieve laser-like results with a non-laser, the Black Cat Cougar Pro, the queen boss b****ch of plotter cutters. It’s bomber, but just can’t give predictable results on leather, to my great sadness.
I saw the ad for GF and realized that it looked like exactly what I wanted–a well-designed laser at half the price of an Epilog–and it promised so many features that I’d have wished for myself if I thought they were possible (the pass-through, the autofocus, the image recognition) that it was really a no brainer to get it.
Now that I know that cheap Chinese lasers like the K40 and the Redsail clones exist, I contemplate getting one to learn on and tide me over until my Forge arrives. However, those things scare me. I’m on the Facebook laser engravers group, and not a single day goes by that someone isn’t asking for help, advice, or commiseration because their Chinese laser is making hideous cuts, isn’t cutting at all, or has lit various parts of itself on fire. I don’t want to spend my time rebuilding a junk laser–I want to be creating on a good one.
Picked up a Carvey to compliment the Glowforge and continue learning while waiting. Spent last weekend doing some test carves of my hometown. I expect you’ll recognize the location.
I have 2 universal lasers M25 and Versalaser 3.50. The tube is going out on the Versalaser and for the same price for a recharge ($1500) I am looking at the ebay chinese 50wt as an alternative.
Still want my Glowforge Pro with filter for shows though since the filter is small and I can set up inside without venting…at least thats the plan…
Sort of looks like Prince Edward Island…??
That depends - is north to the right of that picture?
Yep, north is to the right. No fooling you!
Any powertool actually… I recently bought a festool router and a makita cordless angle grinder! I’m slowly outfitting my workshop with some better tools.
BUT that said, I’ve been eyeballing a CNC router and or a hobby mill…
I’m with you, @morganstanfield. Not a day goes by on that forum someone seeking help with something that is horribly awry with their machine. Quite frankly, I don’t want a machine that I have to essentially rebuild to make it right. I don’t want to tinker and modify. I don’t want a virus laden cd. I don’t want an aquarium pump hanging out in a 5-gallon bucket. Can I deal with it? Yes. But I don’t want to.
It makes me think of a genius programmer friend of mine. Went to iPhone. He tinkered all day long with his job and free time. The flexibility of android at the time was a huge factor in people’s decision making process of buying a phone. His thing was, “it just works, I don’t have to &$@& with it.” And I get that. I’ve converted also after years of fudging with things.
But to answer @dan - Epilog, redsail, and Universal compete with my decision of holding on to the GF preorder. But every minute of maintenance on the machine and troubleshooting something wrong is both time and money wasted. I don’t want that. I don’t expect a perfect GF but am hoping for something that I can worry about my design flaws rather than what is wrong with my machine.
It’s a tough decision to spend more and have something here now vs waiting for the GF. But I feel like not giving into instant gratification will ultimately win out.
Before I learned about the Glowforge, I had been budgeting for an Epilog laser but expected it would be 5 to 8 years before I could justify/afford one as my business slowly grows. Twenty years ago, I would have loved the challenge of tinkering with a K40 but I now want something reliable that can consistently produce income.
I have also been wanting to move up from my 7 year old 24" x 24" CNC router looking to move up to something with a much larger table and maybe a 4th axis. Again, the price tag for a quality machine that meets those specs is probably a couple years down the road. Right now, I’m leaning towards Legacy Woodworking.
EDIT: I’d like to get a 3D printer someday but I expect to wait another generation or two both for reliability and better capabilities I expect to see by then.
I fully expected to buy an Epilog when the prices dropped a bit more. Among its many great features, I wanted to be able to use a 5" focal length lens with the huge z-depth available to me, in order to make good square-edged cuts. The significantly lower cost of the 'Forge, combined with some of its other innovative features not shared by the Epilog, swayed me in this direction. Still, it was a compromise in some respects.
I own a number of tools and CNC based machines currently, including an x-carve, 3D printers, and now a k40.
Before glowforge I had been heavily considering investing in a laser, but was only held back by price/quality concerns. I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands, so buying a machine I’ll spend more time fixing than using is not something I want to deal with (unless it’s just for fun, like the k40). I need to have production machines producing.
I looked at epilog, trotec, fs laser, briefly mr beam, and the overseas off brands. I was really only wanting to spend about $1000 on a laser, maybe $2000 max. As FS laser was the cheapest, I kept thinking about it, but hearing they aren’t too much better than k40s made me keep waffling. That’s too much money for questionable quality.
I was excited about finding the glowforge, as it looked to be solidly designed and engineered, not just the cheapest set of off the shelf components slapped into the cheapest sheet metal case that could be made and rattled apart on the way to my doorstep.
The software was a huge consideration as well. in my searches I had been wondering why no one had ever done anything more with the software on these things, then I saw you guys and knew what I had to choose. The autofocus was a bonus that I hadn’t considered too heavily until I got the k40. That is going to be a huge boon.
I’m still really excited to get my glowforge. There are so many things to be made. I always dislike knowing how much time is passing, but knowing that it’s always getting closer to gf ship time gives me a little consolation.
I was peripherally looking at Laser Cutters for years. Mostly planning for the future. Looking for what I’d want if I had the money and space. I didn’t want one of the cheap ebay ones, mostly for the reasons people have stated above. I was mostly focused on the Epilog line, seeing if they came out with a cheaper/smaller version. I wasn’t really planning on buying one yet. I would just randomly look at what was out every few months or so.
I randomly stumbled on the Glowforge just before the pre-order campaign started. It looked like exactly what I wanted; a smaller, good quality laser cutter I could put in my current office at a price I could swing. And I wouldn’t have to continually tinker with it to get it to work!
It took me and Pinterest about a week to convince my wife to get on board.
Considering an Ebay Chinese laser. Whether I purchase one or not will depend on available free time. I have infinite patience for all things so the mechanical and electrical shortcomings won’t bother me as long as the parts don’t fail outright. I bought an XCarve a few months back that allows me to do 30% of the things originally planned for the Glowforge.
I had initially looked at an Epilog laser but at the lower price point it did not handle past through that the GF Pro and my Next Wave Automation Black Diamond CNC Router do. Since purchasing my GF Pro back at the end of December I have continued to experiment with desk top Laser Engraver from various sources. I have so far actually constructed four (4) X-Y plotter desktop laser engravers, two using components from Eleks Maker, one with a kit from MakeBlock.cc, and a Darkly Labs Emblaser. I have recently also added a laser head to my Next Wave Automation Black Diamond CNC Router.
All of the systems that I have assembled have their niche but it is important to point out that none of them are “plug and play.”
The easiest to use was the Darkly Labs Emblaser but it required 3 hours to assemble and then during the first day when I was engraving a grayscale version of the attached picture I ignited the laser guard/laser head/laser carriage/ribbon cable/belts.
Total damage was $300 plus shipping from Australia. Lesson only cut outlines on cardboard with a 4 watt laser if you are using an ABS laser guard that is 1 mm from the work surface!
All of the systems I have been working with have required pictures to be converted to GCode. This can be done using a number of different software packages such as Inkscape (Open Source), Photoshop (Adobe), Cut2D Laser Desktop (Vectric), PicLaser (Picengravec Dot Com) plus a number of other utilities that will convert pictures to GGode.
All of the systems I have worked with seem to have started from the CNC point of view as opposed to the end user experience point of view. This tends to make using them a journey back to my engineering labs of 40 years ago!
None of the systems I have worked with allow the user to scan a master and then replicate it without having to convert it into GCodes.
Aurora labs has made a 3d printer that Will be available for about 4000 USD. It prints with metal. Although the print surface is only 6x6x9 its still pretty neat and right up my allet for the type of work I do. Also a CNC would be amazing. Can pick up a small one of those for around 7k.