Solution to Odor Issues with Glowforge

I cut a lot of mirrored acrylic and it’s smelly. I have the heating/cooling vents closed in the room, the fan off on our furnace, the door closed in my home studio and I’ve had the Glowforge professionally vented outside. I also use a fan and an air purifier in my studio but still have to leave the room while it was cutting and then air out the entire house after I finished for the day. HOWEVER, I found a helpful solution that I would like to share.

Before I press print I put a strip of 3M blue painter tape over the gaps on the hood, front and back. The tape is reusable so I’m not always using new tape. This has reduced my smells a tonne and I can now work in the studio while I am printing.

Hope it works for you too.

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Waiting to see what @jbv’s reply is so I don’t dup anything.

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I get zero smell in the studio while cutting acrylic, or anything else for that matter, after going over every single seam, rivet, and bolt in my venting setup with aluminum tape.

You say the venting was “professionally installed”. I wonder if they had actual experience with laser/fume/particulate venting, or if they “professionally” install dryer vents. My dryer line can get away with tiny hole/gaps in ways that the laser absolutely cannot.

I should note, however, that my vent exhausts too close to my neighbor’s ancient HVAC fresh-air intake, and will fill his studio with fumes when he is running cold air in. So I mostly have to wait for nights/weekends to play with acrylic.

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Key 1: sealed joints from the :glowforge: hookup port to the exit and including the e it is a must. Having a heavier duty line for the exhaust. Glowforge’s is not top of the line.
Are there any returns in the room the Glowforge is in? If not you shouldn’t need to turn off the whole system and someone correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t any active system help supply a positive pressure outside the Glowforge?
All those cracks in the Glowforge are meant to suck air in along with the intake vent. If smell is coming out of them, there isn’t enough negative air pressure pulling the exhaust out.

How clean is your Glowforge? Clogs constrict air flow and will back up into the room.

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oh right, I should clarify that I get no smells/smoke as long as I keep up on fan cleaning. If I let the fan and protective grill get too loaded up with particulate, at a certain point it stops venting altogether, at which point smoke and fumes will pour out of every opening on the machine. Murphy’s Law states that this will occur with about ten minutes left of a three-hour deep engrave job if you wait to clean until the last minute.

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When I say professionally installed I hired a contractor to put a hole in my house to vent the Glowforge outside.

I am waiting for a complaint from my neighbor about the smell. When I run mirrored acrylic is really sticks outside. Once spring comes and windows are open I’m going to have an issue. I won’t blame them either when they do.

I recently cleaned my machine but didn’t see anything in the youtube tutorial about a fan. It was made by a Glowforge user. Do I just take the vent hose off the back to access the fan?

A few questions about the hose:

  1. should I buy a better quality one?
  2. Add aluminum tape around the connection to the unit and to the external vent?
  3. should I shorten my house so it is just the length from the unit to the external vent? Will having extra hose, not crimped, make the vent less effective?

Finally - my painters tape over the cracks in the machine is not a good thing? Really seemed to cut down the smell.

Trying to beat @Jules to a post…by posting her own post…

Caution: Dirty Pictures....or...How I Cleaned the Exhaust Fan 🤔

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You should consider buying one of the GF filters for the machine if you plan to cut a lot of mirrored acrylic. That stuff will knock you on your backside. (I won’t cut much of it as a result.)

Yes, you can definitely upgrade the hose, but you will still need to seal the seams around the ports with something like aluminum tape. It is non-permeable to air and will last a lot longer than painter’s tape. I use the Rockler 4" hose and connectors, and it is completely non-leak. Although if you use the quick-connect handle, it’s going to require one tape application…it has an inner vent that has to be closed off.

ROFL! Wasn’t even going for that part of the questions. :rofl:

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@Jules do you have one of the GF Filters? I’m wondering how well they work.

yep. don’t know what youtube video you saw, but look at the link that @wesleyjames posted above.

not necessarily, although an insulated vent hose would likely cut down on noise.

I imagine that it would, to a point, but shouldn’t be an issue if your total vent run is still in spec with GF recommendations.

I used aluminum tape on the inside and outside of one end of the flexi hose to make it more rigid, then added a sort of interior gasket using adhesive-backed foam automotive weather-stripping, to avoid a gap around the wire. I also ditch the pinch-locks for a worm-gear hose clamp. I don’t tape the vent to the machine.

My exhaust has to exit through a roof vent, about 18 feet up, so my setup goes beyond the recommended specs. I use the original included hose (mine was a dead-standard dryer hose made by GE) for the first part of the run, so I roll my gf cart away from the wall for pro slot/fan-cleaning access. Then I go into an adjustable rigid 90 then into smooth-walled aluminum ducting up though the drop ceiling to an inverted y-junction that is capped & taped on the bottom as a cleanout/water-trap, and then taped into an external exhaust fan (which it-self is taped on every seam, bolt, rivet) and finally out though the ceiling an old bathroom fan vent. The old bathroom vent was just sort of roughed into place (round peg in a big square hole) so I filled that void with doorframe expanding foam.

you can see that I taped a section of the flexi hose to shorten it before it goes into the rigid 90, and that it is taped solid from where it enters the 90 all the way up to after the 90 has connected to the straight line (which is also taped the length of the pinch seam). You can also see my fan controller.

and here is the pile of dust that the ribbed flexi-hose trapped in the last couple of weeks (low usage since xmas)

no pics from above the drop ceiling, sorry. Its creepy and gross up there.

I figure it’s better to eliminate the cause rather than battle the effect.

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Your fan must be a mess if that’s coming out of your hose. You have motivated me to check and clean my fan. A couple hours of my life I’ll never get back.

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Thanks @Jules for the detailed fan cleaning instructions. Looks like fun. :frowning:

No, unfortunately not. They’re not yet available to us. (Have used another filter though, with that excruciatingly stinky mirrored acrylic…zero smell. Definitely something to consider if you cut acrylic, and particularly extruded stuff.) :slightly_smiling_face:

I will definitely purchase the filter once it’s available. Is it just back ordered or still in development? At this rate I will need to upgrade to the PRO model very soon. I doubt that the PLUS can handle being run 4 hours a day. Perhaps my issues with cutting today were due to over use. My machine just needed a break.

Can highly recommend the Pro. (Gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it.) :smile:

I need to sell my 3 month old Plus. I’ll create a post about it and see if anyone is interested. Any suggestions where else to sell?

quite likely. it’s oversized for the application, and I’m hoping that the length and verticality of the ducting work to my advantage with particulate. But I expect that it will die eventually. Everything does.

meh, 15 minutes once a month.

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I usually find that local community bulletin boards like Nextdoor are a great way to go, and you can save the whole shipping thing.

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@jbv - that’s even more motivating. I can spare 15 minutes.