Set different materials for different files

Hi everyone,

Currently I’m working with about 70 students on individual laser cut projects. They have a range of acrylic and hardwood material choices. I don’t want to create a file for each final design, so have created a file for each material choice. Example, all students wanting to use ‘medium frosted acrylic’ will upload their design into the same file, select their settings and then I’ll run the job.

My problem is that I can’t seem to set a material for each file. Whenever I set ‘med. frosted acrylic’, all other files where a material was previously set are now changed to ‘med. frosted acrylic’.

Am I doing something wrong?

I am a little confused over what you’re doing… and I don’t use files from the library (for many reasons), but always upload from my computer. But whatever was the last material type selected doesn’t change until you tell it to, regardless of files deleted & new ones uploaded. That action is independent of the artwork files–there is no tied connection. The only way to manage this is through the setting selection.

Your concept is great, though.

In the left bar under each action box (there’s another term, but I forget what it is), you can click on that to change the settings and do a “SAVE AS”, and apply a name to that. Though if it’s setting for engraving, it will not appear as an option for Cutting. So cut, score, engrave each needs to have a “SAVE AS” if needed for any special material.

But it’s not specific to a file, you need to tell the GF what material and settings you are using… (exception is when there is the readable QR code).

Unfortunately it doesn’t save the material for each file; it reads the current material if PG, or assumes you’re using whatever you last used if you’ve just run a job, or reverts to “unknown.”

Id have them save their projects individually by their name with the desired material name appended, like “John S-Maple,” so you know what material to select for each job.


I’m sorry you hit a snag with the workflow for your students. It looks like you’ve already received some good information from our other community members. Thanks folks!

@geek2nurse is correct that your unit either reads Proofgrade material which is loaded into the bed before a print is run, or that the material type needs to be selected when you open a design and prepare your print.

In case it’s helpful, we have a guide including screenshots which details what @bansai8creations was describing about saving manual settings. I would recommend reading through the section titled Testing and Saving New Settings. The entire guide on Working with Manual Mode may be useful for you and your students as well.

Please let us know if this information helps you to get things set up for your students, or if you have additional questions.

Thanks @geek2nurse for confirming the behavior of material selection. It appears to be a limitation of the software that multiple files can not be prepared at once if they use different materials as the material choice is determined by what is detected in Glowforge bed.

It would be a great addition to the functionality materials could be associated with the file and not what is detected in the Glowforge bed.

I inherited the Glowforge machine at my new school and I’m trying to develop processes which would allow production at scale (about 70 students working concurrently on projects).

Stefan M


The best option now to ‘batch’ the jobs, is run the groups of files by materials being used, e.g. all the med maple ply, then move on to the next type of material, e.g. med clear acrylic. It doesn’t eliminate need to choose the material type, but will minimize it.

For you it might make sense to save material to the artwork, but for many of us, we use the same files on multiple materials, and so what would save time for you, would increase time for others.

I find the advantage to the current set up is the flexibility to dial in settings for exactly what I need, and then “save as” with name by either the project or the material when I get the result I like.

But it really only adds a few seconds to click the box for material and either start typing the name to pull up the list, or scroll thru the list that appears. And it should ALWAYS be confirmed you have the correct material and settings before you hit print to avoid risk of damage to the project or even fire if the wrong settings are used for a material.

This would be a good lesson to your students, too, that they are still responsible for the machine and correct settings–and not allowing complacency to settle in by expecting the machine to automatically do everything.

Not a limitation at all. There is no concept of material type in design files for multiple types of laser, cutting, CNC, etc. Those settings are selected by the operator at the time of processing. It could be extremely dangerous, for example, to have settings for one material used on another (refer to the posts here regarding fires.)

As stated, your best solution would be to include the material in the file name, or as text (that would be ignored) within the design file itself.


@elfyguy, I see your point. The Glowforge bed determining the material is definitely a good safety measure. My thoughts were that the software could perform a check of the associated material type with the material detected in the bed before allowing the job to be processed (or require a change in the material type of the file to proceed).

It won’t be much more for my students to select a material type when they are uploading their designs, but will need to be done each time the file is opened if another file using another material was set in between.

Thanks for all your thoughts, advice and feedback.

I’m glad to see that the advice, information and feedback helped! I’m going to close this thread. If you run into trouble, or have any questions, please post a new topic here on the forum or email us at and we’ll be happy to assist you.