Set Focus Details

When we use the SET FOCUS from the MORE MENU the thickness is automatically calculated for the material you have in the machine. Why are we not allowed to see (or have it displayed somewhere) - what the SET FOCUS has calculated for the THICKNESS of the material so that when we EXPORT (This Number that the SET FOCUS has determined to be the best for what we are cutting) goes with the EXPORT.

We may not be right on the money when we use the calipers to manually type in our thickness, especially when the SET FOCUS cuts the material better 99% of the time

I have had the GlowForge Pro for several years but this question has never been posted or if it has, I have never seen it

This would make it much more easier for everyone.

I was paying the monthly plan for over a year hoping that GlowForge would improve the Software with things like what I am talking about, but instead we get Puzzles - and a few fancy add-ons but No Actual Software Improvements which I know they have available but won’t give us access to.

That is why I cancelled my subscription


That is not my experience. I very often enter a different value than my actual material thickness.


I’m not sure what the utility of such a feature would be?

You say yourself that set focus often does a better job. Material thickness can vary from sheet to sheet.


Maybe I need new calipers. My point is it would be good to have this information to compare to what our calipers are giving us. We could then fine-tune (manually) if needed.

Most other software can do lines, squares, grouping and puzzles. With the Subscription this is the best they can do. They can’t actually give us software upgrades that make using the machine better for everyone. I’m just saying - it’s not worth paying a monthly fee just for puzzles etc.

I’m doing just fine without the subscription

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The set focus tool was a software upgrade. Early Glowforge owners had to set the material height for all materials. I agree it would be nice if we could see the calculated height, but it wouldn’t necessarily be that helpful since material can be quite variable.


First, set focus has nothing to do with a premium add-on. Premium operates to design work or modify more than things like scale or rotation, but everything else is just normal non-premium working. The other point is that set focus is less about thickness than matching the image on the screen with the location that the piece will actually cut.

Taking a fisheye image and making is straight is some fancy math that is wildly changed if the distance from camera to material is even a fraction of a millimeter off. That is why the set focus uses a base saved by the last successful calibration and the math of the measured distance to give you an accurate image as to where your cut will land in what you are cutting. It will also use that distance as a default for focus but that can be overridden by putting in a specific distance.

It is not unusual for the material to not lay flat, but be that fraction of a millimeter above the crumb tray. That will not have much effect on the cut, but will have a great effect on where it shows the image and where the cut will actually land.


It’s because of the nature of the set focus. It measures how far your material is from the laser head, not material thickness from the honeycomb.

I had the same gripe that you did but physics and geometry can’t be bargained with. :frowning:


The set focus function is not going to be anywhere near as accurate as even the cheapest calipers. It doesn’t need to be, as focus height is not that critical - as I stated, I very often use a very different setting than the actual height of my material, which can give better results than focusing on the surface.

Also, if you click set focus multiple times, the image of the material will often change slightly - which is due to the imprecision of the set focus function.


I know it measures how far it is away from the Laser Head. They also know the height of the crumb tray. You can subtract them and get the thickness of the material. It has this information and it should be displayed in the menu or somewhere so we can use it and it can be exported with the design.

Not everyone uses calipers - And it would be good for a go by number for the material

This is part of the things they should be adding to the monthly paid plan. They need to focus on things that make placement of your designs more accurate, multi placement positioning etc

I had the paid plan since day (1) and just cancelled a few months ago because adding Puzzles and Lines, Squares and Circles can be done from your editing software. What they have added since they started the paid plan hasn’t done anything to help improve using the software itself.

I use my GlowForge alot, but I feel they are going the wrong way with their paid plan and not really improving the software.

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Everything you said is correct. We should still have a visible display of this information which can be very useful to have. It could help you with caliper adjustments if for some reason the calipers are off so you can adjust your calipers for the mis-reading or if you just need to throw them away and buy some new ones

I would settle for a New Camera Hardware upgrade to install if it would improve the cutting accuracy and grid placement of items. Does it need to be a fisheye camera ? - What about mult-cameras to get a more true image.

I just feel their focus on what they are adding to the Paid Upgrade or overall improvement is going the wrong way.


That seems true but there are a bunch of confounding factors.

  • Different crumb tray designs (there have been at least two, silver vs black, though I don’t know if the height was different)
  • different head designs (it’s changed a number of times over the years in small ways)
  • manufacturing tolerances (for example people’s crumb tray heights have varied by significant amounts, up to 0.05" as I recall)
  • variations in materials (especially flatness)
  • user error (such as improperly seated crumb tray, or even a modified crumb tray)
  • user edge cases ( e.g. not using the tray at all – something like a vacuum table – or even just no-tray operations like engraving a cutting board)
  • material masking thickness
  • did the person elevate the material above the tray to avoid flashback
  • is someone using the passthrough and did they properly support/pin down the material
  • etc. Lots of potential etc.

I can’t speak for Glowforge of course but each of these items makes the set focus distance unreliable in terms of calculating a material thickness. If I were in their shoes I would think it was better not to provide a thickness than to provide one that has so many ways of being inaccurate.

Granted, they could make some way to say “calibrate my tray height” with a piece of printer paper, then every time set focus is run it could do the math and give you a decently accurate material height if everything else is “normal”… but that’s a pretty narrow feature for advanced users, and they don’t prioritize those, for better or for worse. Besides, now you have to consider user error on even setting up the printer paper and then how to do express to people that if the tray is moved or offset that the measurements will be incorrect? The average user doesn’t really read instructions (he says, fully aware the he’s the #1 offender), it starts to be a mess.

Anyway this sort of detailed feature is just not what they’re trying to do here. They want to make a simple accessible system for all users, complicating the UI for those of us who want more advanced features like that (I’ll admit I wanted it too) is just not the way they seem to do things. I can’t say they’re wrong, even though I may wish they’d make a nice dense desktop UI instead of a mobile-friendly[1] version like they have now.

  1. mobile-first? ↩︎


Agreed. In over 5 years of ownership and having access to the set focus function while it was still in limited beta, I have never once wished I knew what it was supposed to be reading. I just use it to improve design placement if needed.


Yes, there are a lot of variables if you use different methods. I am just talking about the standard dimensions of the crumb tray. It seems to work pretty good for their settings for Acrylic and the other default settings they have for proofgrade material (something works pretty good). Why can’t we have that info is all I am saying. Everyone can choose to use it or not

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Right, It can be handy for some people and others may not want to use it at all. Either way we should be able to see and export this information


Whatever one’s thoughts on the usefulness of this feature, if it’s something you’d like to see you should email the feature request to support since GF won’t see this discussion here.


And what I’m saying is the only info they can give us with any certainty is something like “your material is roughly 1.76 inches from the set focus laser”, which is not very helpful. As things stand now, trying to give us more than that is misleading which is worse than not telling us anything at all.

I think that trying to get to anything more definitive is going to be overly complex for the actual benefit. There doesn’t seem to be much ROI to be gained here, IMO.


Explain how their Proofgrade is so accurate then. We can get more accuracy if they allow it IMO.
Proofgrade is more level of course and probably ran through a machine to get a even height all the way across. If you don’t have your lens clean or something wiped off good enough, yes even proofgrade will have a few problems but the settings for the proofgrade are more accurate.

Somewhere they have the info calculated in either by testing with actual cuts using the fisheye camera or trial and error until they get the best measurement.

It’s is a (Go By) number - not intended to be a misleading number

That is why I said it could be used to fine tune your calipers and adjust for the difference.
It would be a good starting point IMO


It is not. I have had pretty significant variations in sheets even in the same order. Draftboard, acrylic, ply.


We both are right .

I guess what I have seen lacking with Glowforge is over the last 5 years all we received was a few teasers.

We could have gotten better software upgrades.
We could have gotten improved cameras or mutiple cameras for more accuracy

They haven’t improved the GlowForge any that I know of except for the Teasers

The Focus Info is just one thing I think we should of had all along (if we choose to use it or not)

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If you’d been here from the beginning, as many of us were, I think you’d find most agree there have been plenty of improvements. “Premium” is not a design tool, it’s a subscription to a bunch of files for people who can’t design themselves, with a couple of very basic tools thrown in.