Reinsertable Grid: File and Tutorial

I had to make this grid file and instructions to be used for a stem activity, so I figure I would post them to the community as well. This instruction/file combo go over

  • how to make the 18x10 grid on a 20x12 sheet of material and set up a point in your GF to indicate where it was when engrave
  • how to use insert and use the grid whenever you choose

I am sure everyone has their own flavor of this method but I figure I would share this formalized write up and file anyways. I know there are many other options to handle the trade off of the fish eye lens. This is just an option I use because in my opinion, coordinates are more of a sure thing. Below are photos of the results of how it turns out for me;

What the app shows for the design alignment:
GF image

How it turns out:

The instructions and svg file:

GF Grid Instructions.pdf (524.0 KB)



Thank you. I am sure many will find this quite useful. As for coordinates, I agree they are more of a sure thing, and it was quite a leap forward when Glowforge built them into the app via the measurement tool.


If you’re dead set on this sort of system definitely look into tray boots if you haven’t yet.


For as much talk as there was back in the day about how having no coordinate system (for the end user) was a fail, how amazing coordinates were, and on and on and on… I don’t think that I’ve ever set up a job directly using coordinates on any of my systems.


Those are really cool! I am not as much dead set on the system from the instructions for how to anchor a point. I love seeing all the creative ways and am open to change ways.

These instructions were more tailored to students, where having a less chaperoned route was key.


which systems catered more to the human factor?

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I suspect that is because you set up your files better than I do. I am constantly using the coordinates to make sure the center of my pieces matches the center of the piece next to it - especially after I have moved something that I didn’t mean to move.


Thank you! I’m going to find this quite useful.

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All of them and none of them. :slight_smile: Laser software is inherently bad overall and not set up for ease of use, or at least, as easy as it could be with the tools that exist across the different programs.

Some of the software does certain things really good, other things really bad, other things just meh, whatever. The perfect laser software would be a blend of all of the different ones - but that would be perfect just to my way of doing things. Not everyone thinks like me (probably a good thing lol).

That said, Glowforge has really revolutionized the software side of laser processing. Most people complaining about it have never used anything else, so they don’t really have a basis for comparison. While some of the complaints may be valid, as far as doing this or that, they don’t realize that none of the software packages out there do the this or that that they want.

As far as the human factor… I assume you mean that humans are fallible and make mistakes? GF probably leads the pack in that sense with so much automation. No head crashes. No forgetting to set the focal height using a measuring tool or software input. Not forgetting to turn the air assist back on and toasting a lens. Etc.

As for replicating placement, I think it really comes down to how people think. There are definitely different ways to get to the same end point.

Dirty secret: I cut hundreds and hundreds of oversized puzzles (16x20, 18x20” and even bigger) on the Glowforge. I was able to align things accurately enough using just rulers I made for the crumbtrays that I could cut all of those puzzles in two jobs (half and half) and no one ever knew it wasn’t just one large print that had been cut.

That involved putting board in, making a score mark, trimming a print, gluing it up, putting it back in the machine and running the cuts.

Ultimately though, I guess coordinates are just a thing that exists in a 3D plane of space. They aren’t attached to the crumbtray, they aren’t even really attached to the motion system since it uses a camera to define a certain XY based on the logo printed on the head. That said, the camera based system seems to be very repeatable despite the incessant complaining “back in the day” about no limit switches being used.

All in all, I think this is a thoughtful solution as long as you keep in mind that XY isn’t attached to the crumbtray. So making sure that it’s in the same place when you take it in and out, etc. is important for repeatability.

One other mention - I don’t know if the bug was ever fixed because it was relatively minor in the grand scheme of users, but a bug did exist where the alignment would drift over time on systems that were never turned off. Basically, it was sending the head back to home like one step off after every job. Over time, this would lead to “home” drifting, so your margin of error would increase as time went on. I say minor bug because we are only talking like one step at a time and it only impacted people that left their machine on stand by rather than turning it off.

Very possible!! Workflows are so different person to person (like I alluded to above). As Glowforge introduces design tools, I can see how that would make even more sense - although I think it’s more of a hack for not having an alignment tool (which would use the coordinates in functionality, but not having to input them directly).

Everything I do, I set up in Illustrator. It’s just how I’m comfortable. With the GF I didn’t do a ton of location-specific engraving, where it had to be absolutely precisely placed. My camera was always accurate enough that I could do it, just didn’t do it often. On the Trotec, if I’m doing stuff like that, I just use the red beam to mark the center and move the graphic there.

That’s actually one example of how all of these systems (software) are different.

On the Universals, I can click a point on my screen and the head moves - then I can move the object to make sure it’s centered. But I can’t move the head while I’m at the machine.

On the Trotec, I move the head by buttons on the machine but can’t move the head through the software (I can on their new browser based software though).

So ultimately, I’m aligning things the same way but not the same way on those two systems.

The GF obviously uses a camera which is the quickest.

All 3 systems though — if you really want pin point accuracy, you set up jigs. Especially with irregular shaped items.

For example, if I made a bunch of heart shaped slate engravings. On all 3 systems, I would ultimately cut a jig for that. Then I know things are placed right.

How you go about doing things after that depends on the system…

For the Glowforge and Universals, I would have it all set up in the one file. I could do the same on the Trotec but for that, I would probably use what they call markers. So basically, I would set up the jig file one time, and set center markers throughout the file… then I could just import my graphics and snap them to the markers.


Completely agree with everything you said. The perfect laser software would shape to the user an their preference. That would call upon ML, which has it own obstacles.

I have a few other machines and no doubt glowforge outshines them all. I happily accept any of the tradeoffs that just require my own mitigations.

And as for HF, yes, I meant humans make mistakes and you have to account for that and put in bumpers. They have done very well on and their use cases do not have much HF crossing into ethics, which is where things get tricky.

Puzzles has been the one area on my list to look into (my grandma keeps asking me for then after she saw GF commercials). I keep getting distracted with fabrics.

Good point on the crumb tray. I actually had to go find mine in order to put together the guide. The tray certainly has its uses but I rarely have a need for it. Getting people to think beyond the tray sometimes overcomplicates things.

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In a prior life, I had to actually dress up and go into an office. My job then was Environmental, Safety & Health - basically OSHA stuff…

The whole mantra was zero zero zero - zero accidents. It’s not just a goal. It’s obtainable.

I don’t know how safety professionals actually believed it, but if you listened to everybody at a meeting or conference, you’d think that every single person did.

It’s an enviable goal… but your post just made me think about that. The Human Factor, or Human Performance as taught by one of my favorite safety consultants just can not be accounted for in its entirety. Any single person in the entire chain of getting a job done can impact the final person in that chain, from a safety perspective. The engineers, the people who designed their software, the machinery, every nut and bolt of that machinery from somewhere else, and on and on and on - and finally, add in the random black swan event…

Either way, my bad for the tangent. :slight_smile:


completely understand. That chain; the decision making, the stakeholders, the analysis, the ethics…all why I got into engineering.

@MyDogsThinkImCrazy welcome to the forum and thanks for your tutorial and contribution!
Sharing knowledge is what makes this community stronger and it´s members better glowforgers.


I use co-ords ALL the time, multiple times a day.

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In your design software or in the UI?

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Thanks! Completely agree! I mainly have been using IG (@MyDogsThinkImSewCrazy) to share my knowledge after seeing there was a lot of hording of tips/tricks on there. I am liking the forums.


I know I haven’t, lol.

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Well yes, both. I have a permanent jig in my machines cut to 0,0. So every design is built from 0,0 top left (well actually 2,2 just for a bit of drift). Every material gets pushed into the top left corner of the jig. Consistent positioning every time.

In practice I find I can get up to 1mm of drift.

When it comes to cutting items out of used materials and working round previous cuts then I use co-ords to position about half the time.

Also, when I make designs that use several sheets I keep them in one file, spaced down the file vertically. Cut the first sheet, delete everything in that cut, use the co-ords to bring the next sheet up by adjusting the Y position.

Then, when I am adding a line to give a straight edge on the waste from an intricate design, that is always done by co-ords as well.

I would think I use the UI co-ords on probably every third job.


Thank you for the incredibly helpful share. :grin:


I see you mentioned puzzles… here are a couple of files I’ve shared that might make your grams happy!

Fall Leaf Halloween Puzzle Update - Free Laser Designs - Glowforge Owners Forum

Valentine’s Heart Puzzle - Victorian Cut - Free Laser Designs - Glowforge Owners Forum