Question about etching large pieces of leather

I often do embroidery in small chunks by rolling the fabric, embroidering a portion, then moving it and embroidering another portion. That way I can do large sections of fabric even though my embroidery hoop is only 10x13. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to do the same with laser etching leather. Does the entire laser bed need to be under 1.5 inches, or could I have a 36 x 12 piece of leather with, 12x12 inches (or thereabouts) portion laying flat with a 3 inch tall section of rolled up leather roll off to both sides so that I could do a long strip of leather in multiple passes. I’m thinking maybe this could be accomplished via software if you could define the laser etching area and not pass the laser over the other areas?

I would worry about doing this with a basic model as it may come in contact with the laser gantry or cutting head. I suppose that if you had the basic you could remove the cutting bed and have the excess lap underneath and use an appropriate spacer to have the surface you wished to engrave at the propper level. With the pro you could feed the excess in but then again you are limited by the width and that the material passing through would need to be under 1/4". If it was 1/8" tho you could fold it in half and feed it through and desing accordingly giving you a theoretical width of 40" on the completed project.

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Aahh, great idea folding it under. I could really get a lot of material in 1.5 inch height that way. I do wonder about other objects though. For example, say I were etching the bottom of a bowl with 2 inch sides. Could I etch the bottom of the bowl even though the non-etched area was higher than the 1.5 inch depth?

Sorry to disappoint you, but the 1.5" is the maximum thickness that can fit in the GF. The gantry for the laser head would run into anything that was taller than that. There is some talk about it here: Modifications for a GF

Good information here. @emilycarolinemiller1, I love the use case, but unfortunately I don’t think it’ll work for you without a Pro.

I’m confused as to why this wouldn’t work on the standard model. I thought one of the advantages of the auto-alignment camera system was so that you could reposition a piece to continue the cutting? Whether it’s leather or paper or cloth, as long as you can stuff material into the 12x20x1.5 cavity in a manner that allows unfolding or unrolling, what’s the hangup? If I have 10 feet of 18" wide paper rolled up on a 1/2" dowel, can’t I just keep unspooling it at intervals as I cut, say, 18"x9" at a time, with the camera aligning to where the last interval stopped cutting?

I guess as long as nothing is above the swing of the gantry (the entire bed), it would be technically possible to do what you ask. Still, continuous feed is advertised as a Pro feature. I can think of a few reasons why the company might not enable this S/W feature for the Basic model. Obviously I have no inside knowledge.

Based on Dan’s comment in the Tested interview, the registration function will allow you to unroll and “cut something larger than the bed would allow.”

I interpreted that to mean the feature would be available on all models, as he doesn’t qualify that statement with “on the pro model.” The pro model makes it considerably easier with the pass-through slot of course, and enables extended cutting/engraving on inflexible materials like wood or metal. But his statement could be interpreted otherwise.

@dan can you clarify? Will the standard model allow re-registration and the ability to cut/engrave larger areas if we can manage to squeeze material inside? Cut, open lid, unroll, close lid, register, cut, repeat? Or something like that? I sure hope so!


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Dan will eventually answer I’m sure. Nothing in his previous comment said that you couldn’t do what you asked. Your use case was all below 1.5" in height. Hers were both above that and would get in the way of the gantry. As an aside, I didn’t assume the Basic capability because the statement wasn’t definitive. You could believe otherwise because the statement didn’t specifically exclude the possibility. Neither view is right Neither is wrong. Both are interesting studies in personality.

My experience with other laser cutters, and my understanding (based on watching videos of the Glowforge in action) is that there isn’t a lot of space on the outside of the cutting/engraving area of the laser, so rolling/gathering/bunching material at the ends wouldn’t work.

As for folding, you could maybe test out how successful that would be on your own. Take a piece of leather that’s typical of what you’d be working with, and try folding it under so that it’d fit within a 12x18 rectangle on a flat surface and then just measure the height of what your folded piece comes to at its highest point. Try a few times so that you could get to all the different pieces of the hide.

Like others suggest, I also suggest looking at upgrading to the Pro model. That’ll give you a slightly more powerful laser, slightly faster performance, the ability to feed longer pieces of material through, and the software’s ability to scan and line things up (to reduce or eliminate the risk of an elaborate piece getting messed up because it was slightly off as you fed it through. We plan on using ours with leather and other fabrics, which is a big reason why we went for the pro model.

That was my original thought. Then after re-looking at ryan_haskell’s post his dowel with material could be less than 1.5" in height. So technically he could remove the original tray, and design a smaller tray with room for a feed roll and a take-up roll on either side as long as nothing is higher than the 1.5". All of that assumes that the S/W for continuous feed is enabled for the Basic unit. That is very different than S/W needed for simple registration.

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At this point we don’t have plans to enable continuous feed with a roll of material talk to you inside the machine, but I willadd it to the feature requests hopper.


Great, thanks @dan The use case doesn’t even have to be as complicated as material rolled up on a dowel… Just folding a piece of fabric in half with a couple layers of aluminum foil in between would enable folks to create much larger designs with the basic model. Let’s hope this feature gets more upvotes!

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Definitely add my vote for this capability @dan. Not for a continuous feed system, but being able unroll and “cut something larger than the bed would allow”. That is something I already thought the GF would do based on watching the Tested interview

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