Is the GF suitable for a retail environment? We’re thinking of a store setting where people can create personalized items. We would have to be sensitive to smell, noise and other safety concerns. Since it is such a beautiful design I’d hate to see it in a back room. Part of the WOW! factor would be having the customer see their item being created. Thanks.
As long as you are not going to be using the ProGF, I don’t see any reason that you wouldn’t be able to, if you have it filtered or vented correctly. This could certainly be a good way to draw in customers, a Glowforge cafe, pipe the image from the lid-cam to a big screen and entertain everyone.
Note: I do not know if the high frequency energy will interfere with pacemakers or other medical devices.
I think the answer at this point is, who knows for sure?
A couple of things for consideration:
Smell/fumes - GF includes a filter that is reputedly working pretty well but is definitely a consumable. Last I remember, they were sure the filter recharge would be under $250. You’ll need performance data though to build into your product price. Or, factor in existing industrial type filter systems and that cost.
Noise: Perhaps others that have seen in person can report better on noise. Glowforge hasn’t released a dB rating yet. From what I can tell, and from what I’ve heard of other lasers - like a vacuum cleaner. An Epilog dB rating I’ve seen is around 62 dB.
Safety: Class I basic would be safer. Class IV has more safety regs associated with it. However - I think I’d have everyone wear safety glasses (one for safety and insurance, two - it’s a cool factor and adds some non-tangible value to what you’re doing.
Depending on where you are, you might want additional external venting/filtering. It’s not really a question of toxicity but of ambience. Some lasered things, like wood, smell OK or even pretty nice. Others (some plastics, leather/bone/horn) really don’t. And even with filters you’re going to get a little of that. I would definitely go with a Basic, at least to start, because you once you have the passthrough, you have lots more issues about people doing stupid things. (And you are required by law to have the glasses, which present a compliance/damage/shrinkage issue.)
I’ve seen the Glowforge a couple times now. It’s tough to properly judge the noise level because Makerfaires are generally noisy places, but I would say it’s way below vacuum level. Had no problem holding a normal conversion at the Makerefaire while two of were running at the same time.
People at Glowforge have mentioned that their device is not designed for higher volumes. It is a hobby grade machine that is probably suited to making a bit of money with, but not to mass manufacture things 18 hours a day or something. So, you might have to replace the laser tube or refill the filter more often, but you’ll probably be fine. As already mentioned, probably don’t get the pro. Also, the filter is supposed to work very well in the type of conditions that you describe.
I was in a small shop recently and they had a small laser set up where the customers could put in different things and have them engraved. There was no smell at all. Although i didn’t see one, I’m sure there was a filter system in the cabinet it was sitting on.
Good advice here, and I don’t forsee any problems with a Glowforge Basic. I know others have the same intention.
Would it be possible for you to contact me directly?
Just wanted to thank everyone for the input. I’ve passed the comments along to the leadership. As soon as a decision is made and it is okay for me to talk about I’ll let you all in on the project. Once the space is ready I’ll post some pictures of the installation. Hoping that GF will meet the requirements. Thanks again, Bert
Unfortunately we’re spending every moment working on fulfilling our commitments to existing customers, so we’re not available for sales calls.