Registration of pre-printed sheets

(One arrow press) = moves the selected object one pixel in that direction
(Shift+One arrow press) = moves the selected object 10 pixels in that direction.
(Shift+drag) = locks drag to 90degs.
(Ctrl+T) = Transform. Holding Shift locks rotate to 15deg increments (this would be great for wood projects where you want to line up grain)

The cool thing is the commands would be just like Photoshop, so nothing new to learn.


^^^^^^* I wish I could like @spike’s post a hundred times


Clarification: so is this about how to move the cut file in position over the materials? Fine adjustment possible on a touch screen using the macro lens on the head?

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@marmak3261 exactly right.

@spike has the right idea.

For cutting anything pre-printed you need pixel level movement and rotation.

On the desktop arrow keys and combo’s work fine - and ideally should either follow Adobe or some similar very popular software.

On the ipad I suspect it would need additional control buttons…

In both cases input fields where you could type numbers in would also be useful.

And yes, you would probably need a zoom function too so you can see.

So imagine you pre-print in one corner of your material a single pixel L shape
In your cut file you have a matching L shape

  1. Using the hood camera you position the cut over the pre-print as best you can
  2. You zoom in over the registration mark
  3. You pixel tweak it up/down/sideways to get the cut-mark over the pre-printed mark
  4. You pixel rotate it so the cut mark aligns with the pre-printed mark.
    4B) In an ideal world you would want to specify the point you are rotating round as the bottom left of the L, but I realise that’s possibly a different order of problem.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until it is perfect
  6. Hit cut.

The advance course would allow for 2 registrations, top right, bottom left. This would help where either there was slight scaling issues (not sure how much variation you would get off different thickness of material for example).

It would also server as a double check - especially for rotation - which is the hardest thing to get right.

As for use cases - ANYTHING pre-printed: cards, boardgames, decorations, clothes, embroidery, stationery, dolls houses, pre-painted, adding engravings to something previously engraved, etc., etc.,

Also, there are probably a number of cases where you want to cut something, take it out and do something to it, put it back for further cuts.


Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I mean use cases for aligning with preprinted material.

Any material with a pattern or texture would fall under that, as far as my needs.

What is helpful us “I (plan to) do things like A, B, C. Here’s how I do each one of them and here’s the goal. [optional] here’s how Glowforge software helps me do this.” The use case is much more useful to us than the feature recommendation. Hypothetical example:

“I engrave pencils. I want to put lots of pencils in my glowforge and engrave them. I have a spreadsheet with all the pencil text. I want them all engraved in a certain font. I want a feature where the glowforge detects pencils, then engraves all the pencils it finds with the next rows from the spreadsheet and deletes the last ones.”

We’re not going to implement a pencil-finding feature, but we might be able to generalize from this + many more use cases some features that would make the use case work.


I want to cut some acrylic into a strange shape (say a heart) then I want to take the heart and paint it red (with laser safe paint of course) then I want to stick the heart back into the Glowforge and engrave my moms name into the heart. Then I will take my heart with my moms name and backlight it so the her name glows.


I guess it would be for me to be able to take something out after cutting/engraving, do some process then put it back in and run the rest of the job. It could maybe laser on some alignment marks or something.

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For me, my specific use cases

  1. playing cards for board games
  2. playing tokens ditto
  3. boards for board games
  4. 3D buildings made from pre printed sheets
  5. war game scenery
  6. wedding stationery with cutouts
  7. brochures with cutouts
  8. birthday cards and similar with cutouts

All of these involve pre-printing, effectively using the GF as a die cutter.

Process would either be printed paper laminated to another material (heavy card or mdf)
Pre printed birthday/wedding cards, brochures etc printed to heavy card (often both sides) using GF to cut out sections and patterns


But… fine resolution placement of cuts on material is the key.

Where using a finger on an iPad is not going to be precise enough and fine “vernier” control is needed



Glowforge may be able to do some nifty things beyond this… but to address these two specific use cases:

@markwarfel: Leave the bulk material in the printer undisturbed (use a razor blade or exacto knife to pick out the heart) and you can place the heart back in the exact same spot it had been. So you can use one file that has the heart outline and the inset text, run only the outline, rip the heart out of your glowforge (sorry, had to say it that way), then paint, re-insert, and run only the inset.

@sqw: Pre-prints should work marvelously with the camera registration. Just be sure to print the outline of where you want to cut, and tell the Forge to cut on the inside of that outline. The printed outline is not left on the final product to give away how it was done.


Exactly what I conceived as a work around. While I was writing that ridiculous example I was thinking how I would do it if there didn’t have this feature. I mostly want it to be able to read registration marks. You could even place a QR type sticker on something for it to align.

This is great stuff, folks. Definitely a lot of awesome ideas here!

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Anyone else now have a great desire to engrave names on pencils from a spreadsheet?


I think I would engrave days of the week. Then lay them all out on my desk and only use the pencil for that day…


Why does this remind me of something.

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One of my favorite uses of any office productivity software are mail merges. I want to engrave large carpenter pencils with personalized messages or names. So “merge to the Glowforge” would be quite an add-on feature in my repertoire since it would simplify the batch process. Although it can all be done within Inkscape to generate the cutfile:

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@dan Here is a concrete example for you from a project I did a little bit ago. I make playing cards and often do highly custom boxes, in small runs. Let’s say that in this example I take what you see in the screen grab and print out on paper the parts that are black. Later, those printed elements will be run through a foiling process. I then need to take that prepped piece of paper and cut/engrave it.

So what I need to be able to do is set this ready-to-go sheet of paper in the GF, then overlay my (pink) cut/engrave lines precisely, and then let it do the cut. If I could drop the cut lines .ai art onto the paper and then nudge it with the keyboard or some arrow controls to get it exactly where it needs to be, that would be immensely helpful.