Speculation on the Expansion Port

Per @fan-of-glowforge, the Tiltable Table is intriguing. Or a ROTARY Head for lasering curved surfaces!

Not a fan of Feature Creep, but a plug-n-play Tiltable Table or Rotary Head…
that’s intriguing.



If, as @dan stated, this has been planned since the beginning, by definition it isn’t “feature creep.” I choose to take him at his word on this. YMMV, of course.

:heart: :glowforge:


I completely agree with the statement that I’d rather by a 3-d printer that can print objects larger than 2" but I’m intrigued by what could be done with a 3-d engrave and then extrude on top of it for an inlay effect. It would completely beat using resin to fill the engrave and then having to remove the overflow.


I was thinking a resin head that could filling engraved areas with colored resin could be really cool


I would be hesitant to employ such a device because it just takes on screw up and you’ll have a laser filled with resin…


I would consider buying the 3D printer head for 2 reasons.

1- I’m limited on space in my office. Part of the deal with getting the Glowforge is I have to get rid of my 3D printer. :disappointed:

2-When I was printing stuff, it was mostly small things anyways. Little toy’s and D&D mini’s.

I can understand why people won’t want it for a 3D printing business, but for hobby use, I think it would be useful… As long as its not too expensive.

1 Like

I don’t know how feasible it would be, but a laser diode head similar to a LPKF ProtoLaser would be awesome. It would be awesome to be able to etch circuit boards and potentially other metals!


I can see possibilities for an inkjet head but I can’t get past the problems an uneven surface will cause. That’s where the auto focus feature would really “earn” its keep. Similar problems with 3D printing, the idea of embellishing a laser engraving is attractive but it will have to be some kind of specialised plastic to stick to an unheated base. The 2" (50.8mm) Z height is a bit of a limiting factor too. Problems that I’m sure could be overcome.

The idea of adding an airbrush head … so much easier, nowhere near the definition of an inkjet but small surface variations won’t be a problem. Engrave, cut, colour and varnish your creations without removing them from the bed, yay! Overspray may be a little bit of a bugbear but hey, you can’t have everything.

Really don’t see the GF’s underpinnings being rigid enough for any mechanical cutting with the possible exception of a light duty drag knife.

Very interested to see what they come up with and how the various problems (opportunities) are solved (exploited).


I’m actually excited about the inkjet printer option, hopefully with pigment ink (for the hopper). It could serve as a flatbed printer for items up to 1.5 inches thick, which, of course, cannot run through a regular printer. You could print on all sorts of substrates. I’ve been on the edge of buying a flatbed printer a few times. The CNC route is less appealing to me with the awesome 3d engrave. Regardless, I have a carvewright collecting dust in the woodshop and it was always a frustrating tool to use, so I’m sure Glowforge would be superior there.


So when do we find out the pinouts and protocols for the head?


At first the inkjet thing was kinda… meh. But then i started thinking about it and this would mean being able to print on ridged materials. That could be cool!


Exactly - how many inkjet printers can print on 1/4 baltic birch? Turining it into a sublimation printer opens up another revenue stream for those using it for small business as well. Of course this is down the line, I’ll wait for my laser first.


Here’s one such printer.

And here’s the problem, you need WHITE INK to print on Non-White Surfaces. And white ink is a BIG BIG problem, as pigment size is large enough to jam most inkjet nozzles.

Second Problem… it starts at $15,000.

So I honestly think inkjet on the laser would be crazy.



Head houses the lens and a mirror maybe a bit more , the tube you see in the videos that is behind the head that is the co2 gas tube thats the laser


I didn’t know the specifics behind white ink (pigment size) that you mentioned. But, that certainly answers the question as to why most printers who do non-standard media printing don’t print white. I have a lot of photographs printed on wood and they are beautiful! But, white doesn’t print so one has to take that into consideration when choosing an image to print and what it will look like.

However, the expansion port excites me for the possibilities with these wood prints. I can have my print done and then use a depth map from the image to engrave certain features, such as bark on trees, and then reprint that area to restore what’s been engraved away.


Yeah, in order to have any control over the color matching, you have to start with a white base first. Then you can overprint and get repeatable results.

Otherwise each print will look different depending on the substrate. For crafts, not a dealbreaker, for PRODUCTION… dealbreaker. Must be repeatable.

I also expect adhesion would be a problem, which is why UV printers are the norm for non-standard surfaces. Also, UV inks prevent very fast degradation in sunlight of normal inkjet prints. (and yes, I know about Pigment Inks)


Thanks for the input and expertise! I see you’re pretty new here on the forums, so maybe you’ll stick around? One of the incredible things about this forum is that it has brought together a ton of expertise from a remarkable number of subject areas - as you’ve just shown. :slight_smile:


I agree, Dan’s ongoing delay announcements suck, but the ideas of the Glowforge community are compelling. Appreciate your encouragement to keep participating.

Glowforge Community ALMOST makes up for the delays. That said, if I had gigabytes of files ready for the laser, I’d be much more uptight.


1 Like

you can etch metals you just have to use cermark to do it

(Properly speaking, cermark doesn’t etch, it just makes a permanent mark.)