Resizing a design question

Perhaps that is the best solution. As someone who wants to design for the design store, I’m exploring different avenues to offer the most flexibility to someone who buys my designs.

Imagine I post a design that I tested with just Plywood and I know it works with that material (like the chess set I posted here: Laser Cut Board Games).

Someone buys the designs, emails me, and asks “Will this work with Acrylic?”. What do I say?

  • no, I only tested it with Plywood. You can cut it in Acrylic, but it probably won’t work as well, since the acrylic is wider than the plywood.
  • yes, but you’ll have to use Inkscape to adjust the width of the holes here, here and here so they are slightly wider. Here’s a tutorial on using Inkscape.
  • probably, but I’ll have to purchase the acrylic, have it shipped to me, adjust my design, and send you a new file.

None of those answers strike me as “user-friendly”. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask designers to test it with every single feasible material (unless they are on the GF payroll).

I can probably guess which materials are going to be popular, design for those, and offer different files for each of those materials. And that’s most likely what I’ll do at the start.

I’m just trying to figure out if there are tools out there that could make my life easier, and offer a better experience for users.


I get that - user friendly. I really do.

And user friendly, to me, is having a design that has been thoroughly tested on the mediums you intend to sell for.

In my mind, Glowforge is basically designing a stock library for laser cutters and as an artist, you’ll receive royalties. Think Getty, Shutterstock, or Adobe Stock. Not Etsy, where buyers can contact the seller and inquire about modifications, commissioned pieces, etc. Why compete with that huge platform?

Again, I surmise, but I feel like the goal here is world domination (hehe) - to have a Glowforge in a lab at every school and then in every home. Not just “makers” as we think of them now. People that want to buy a design that has been tested and with proofgrade material, will just work. So, for reputation stake, it’s important that designs are thoroughly tested and just work.

I feel like GF is investing very heavily in the material and proofgrade business because that’s the huge money maker of the business down the road (imo). Get us early adopters on board to start making and designing, and then go for every home and say hey, you don’t even have to design. We have the worlds largest catalogue of laser cut designs that are guaranteed to work on our material.

Likely, the hardware will be even cheaper in the future. Its hard to consistently make money on hardware when it’s already being cloned, or attempting to be cloned. The future is in the value of the design catalog and guaranteed proofgrade materials - I think.

Sorry, rambling a bit. :slight_smile:


I agree with what you say. I have a very similar vision of the GF store and proof-grade material. But I hesitate a little with this sentence:


  1. There’s a cost to testing on all the different mediums. Especially if we get into different types of wood. Each wood species behaves differently, and will have different settings on the GF. I will not have the ressources or time, as a designer, to buy each type and try it. I can certainly try it on a couple, not all of them.
  2. I might not predict all the mediums someone intends to use for a design.

I think when a design us put on the store, the designer should say:

  • It was tested with material A, B and C.
  • It should also work with material D, E, and F (because they have the same widths as A, B, or C).
  • It should also work with any material that has one of those widths.

Well, you guys let me know what final standards are once everyone has decided on something.

If I were going to consider designing for the store, I would try to keep it very simple.

  1. Make one version in whatever material you choose.
  2. Post a picture in that material.
  3. List the nominal size of whatever the material actually was, in both inches and mm.
    ( If it’s proofgrade, and that turns out to be fairly standardized, we might just be able to get away with saying 1/4" ply proof.)

Then just make the file available as is. Those who have a minimum of knowledge will be able to re-work the file for their own use in other materials. (If you want to be nice about it we could decide on some standard like pink fill or stroke for parts that need to be targeted or something like that.)

In addition:

  1. Offer to do the redesign in another material as a service for a nominal additional fee. But make it optional, not expected. (You would not believe how much time you are going to spend re-working your files for people who do not know how.) They give you the nominal measurement, you adjust the file and send it to them directly via email.

Once you see that there is interest in a particular file, you can do up several versions for the proofgrade materials to have them on hand if someone requests it down the road. But you will continue to recoup the additional fee for having to rework the file. (It’s not being greedy, it’s being smart. Your time is worth something, and designs tend to have a short shelf life.)


Unless the design has a mechanical element that depends on certain properties of a material (friction, water resistance, flexibility, strength) I cannot see what can possibly be gained by “testing” a design in a multitude of different materials.

“Cool acrylic coaster! What is that, 3mm? Would it work in 4mm?”

A picture frame designed with 1/8" acrylic in mind will probably function just fine as a picture frame if it’s cut out of 1/8" plywood. Asking a designer to “test” a “no solicitation” plaque in multiple thicknesses of acrylic, grades of leather, solid and ply wood, laserable vinyl, and stencil material will do little except waste designers’ time and discourage people from contributing.


@Hirudin : Do all designs need to be tested on all materials? Absolutely not. When tolerances are an issue - yes. If I’m paying money for a design and using proofgrade materials, I want it to work when I hit print. Therefore, designs with potential tolerance issues should be tested and variations of the file made available for different materials.

I have no idea how the catalog will be set up. None of us do. Maybe my thoughts on files being thoroughly tested before inclusion into the catalog is my ultimate vision of what the catalog will be: a stock library of laser designs… once we get past the early adopter stage, people are not going to want to finagle with designs. They are going to want to hit print and make their dinosaur head.

If your design is of a nature that it will/could fail due to a difference in material specs, it should only be sold for the materials it has been tested for - and then the proper file variant could be supplied that has already been tested.

Maybe I misunderstood the nature of this thread… if so, disregard.


I did the same thing with a design I did for box puzzles. I made something similar to these:

Once I change a variable, it resizes all of the parts and then I output a SVG file from Solidowrks.

I know that does not work for people without that software, but just scaling didn’t work for me.

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I still remember the day that @jacobturner schooled me on parametric design. I had just not done anything like that, especially in 3D modeling. I understand the facility of programs that have this function. As I have been working with my kitchen matchbox, I have thought about putting it into OnShape or Fusion360 but just am unwilling to start down that path yet. I just fiddle with it in Sketchup and put it into Inkscape. But I definitely need to design two different matchboxes, one to fit the Diamond Brand, which has a bigger box, and one to fit the generic Best Value matches that are smaller. Then I need to design the tabs to deal with different thicknesses of material. I think acrylic, baltic birch and walnut will all be great materials for this design. In the end I am better off learning the parametric program. But I can get Inkscape to resize the tabs as needed by changing the grid pattern size underneath and snapping to the new dimension to be able to accommodate different thicknesses of material.

This is a good discussion and is spurring me on to do some more design fiddling.


The Color Kludge to make SVG semi-parametric is intriguing, and could work out.

SVG are allowed to have text in the file, and that is ignored by the cutter (possibly not the same for Glowforge though, as being able to use text in an engrave file is more user friendly). In this case you would be able to use text to dictate if a color should be resized, and what type of justification to use.

However… maybe we can stop wondering if the shopper in the Catalog has the skill to make a cut file from a parametric model, and instead ask for the store itself to be able to do that.

This version of the catalog would work like this:

  1. We can upload a fully parametric file from OnShape or other, and then specify what user inputs are allowed.
  2. When you buy a model from the catalog your account is flagged as owning that model (much like the Apple App store), and you can come back to that catalog entry any time to re-download the model with different parameters.
  3. After buying a parametric model, you are able to modify the default values for the various parameters, and then click a button to download the various corrected cut files.

ask for the store itself to be able to do that

Yes please.
Instead of loading the Glowforge preview/cut app with features do it in the store!

It is still a very hard problem to solve, but at least it means that the results could be saved on an individual basis so the software does not need to calculate the parametric values each time.


I’d much rather have control in the interface than in the store. It will make tweaking our own designs easier.

@dan and team, to this point, have been great about asking for input and what is most important to us, the early adopters.

I know they also have a position listed for a designer (forgot exact title) in the Careers section of website so they probably already have some thoughts about this.

It’s definitely an endeavor whenever you’re selling usage licenses for things, so I’m excited to see what they come up with. Perhaps another thread should be started for catalog thoughts/opinions for those that want to design.

Word is, one way or another, Glowforges will have the ability to adjust values in designs based on material thickness.

The reply…


This would be fantastic if it becomes possible somewhere down the line. :smiley:

I’m not sure it’s a good idea to hang our hats on it being available right out of the gate though. We still don’t know what the necessary design parameters are. That function might be harder to code than other features.

(Certainly seems like it would be to me, but I’m no code expert. Maybe it’s an easy thing.)

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I had a longer post written, but suffice it to say that one of the goals of Glowforge is to free users from needing to build up a “black book” of cut parameters in order to be able to produce accurate cuts in a variety of materials.

I believe that they can make it happen and assuming they do, I think multiple tests will be unnecessary for all but the most demanding designs.

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My understanding of what is going to happen is that they will automate a lot of the functions for us, but I’m not sure that they can do this. Even though Dan said they could. (Sorry, dan! :wink:)

I’m not sure this one is completely do-able.

They should be able to:

  1. Eliminate the need for unfamiliar users to have to worry about focus distance and making sure that the cut makes it all the way through the material. They’ll do that with their 2 cameras and the algorithm that they use to determine the material thickness. That sounds like a big deal, especially if they can get it down to 0.1 mm accuracy. (No one likes hanging chads. Chuckle!)

So yes, that side of the “cut parameters” will be handled for us.

  1. For designs that require a straight cut through the material, like drawings on paper with clearly delineated lines, I’m sure they have some kind of Auto-trace program. That’s going to yield acceptable results for most of the people who purchased this thing. (Depending on how good the trace program is, it might yield acceptable results for me too, but I doubt it. There is not a program in the world that can produce as good results with auto-trace as a human can doing it manually.)

  2. I’m sure they are also working on some kind of scaled engraving program based on fill or color. In line with that, they will also have to hard code limits for the software, to prevent people from trying to engrave at improper speeds and power settings, to reduce the risk of flame up. Given how many materials there are, that would be a Herculean task, but it’s necessary from a safety standpoint.

  3. Since they plan to keep control of the “preparation for cutting” process entirely within their software, they have got a huuuuuge job ahead to hit that December shipment. They need to test the software thoroughly, using the least informed users that they can find, just to make sure that they catch as many of the problems that real people are going to hit them with, that they would not necessarily have thought of, because they know what they are doing.

With a complete lack of political correctness, I call it the"Idiot Factor". :smirk:
You simply can’t foresee everything that less informed people are going to try to do, when you have any knowledge at all of how the system works. But with something like a laser, ignoring the IF could be catastrophic.

I’m sure they’re aware of all of these issues, so it’s been underway for a while. But because I know how much they have got going on, i wasn’t expecting something that is geared to help those few designers who plan to sell their work, who actually do know a little more about the process. It’s a much smaller subset of the whole. Re-sizing slots and things to help a few people sell their product more easily would be fantastic of course, but I’m just not sure that parametric functionality could feasibly be ready before the roll-out. Not unless it’s already been in the works from the beginning. There is still going to have to be some thought put into the design process by the designers, particularly if they are taking it 3D. I just don’t see a way around that.

It might be harder to get design submissions into the Catalog than most people think. The stuff that is going to sell that is thickness-sensitive, due to slots or spacing, is either going to have to be clearly limited to one specific material in the description, or someone is going to have to test it for other materials and re-work the design. Those who have parametric design software are going to have an easier time getting files put together for all the materials than those who don’t. Those who want to sell for just one material will limit the amount of customers they can reach. Or they will spend a lot of time reworking the file for other materials. Either way, it’s tough to make a buck selling files. (Been there, done that.)

Of course, I would be tickled pink to be proven wrong. I just wasn’t expecting that kind of ability up front.

It will be a delightful surprise if it happens. :smile:


This whole thread has caused me to finally start learning Fusion 360.


Chiming in here (better late then never): I agree with the store level parametization Much like customizable objects on thingaverse.


This is wonderful feedback, and thank you. We’re working to make it really easy to print designs from the catalog - which may come at the expense of making it harder to create designs for the catalog. If you’re designing now with a goal of submitting to the catalog, then I would expect to have to re-draw your final design in some new environment to make them work properly, and that this process will probably be rolled out later after shipments start as a lower priority while we focus on the software that everyone requires first. That way, if we do something sooner/better, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. :slight_smile:

For the time being, any of the suggestions here is a fine interim point - onshape, color coded tabs if you can make that work (seems challenging but might be possible?), or something else.