Stuck on centering / focusing

So, I’m sure I’m one of many, but I thought that I would share my experience that I’ve been having on my glowforge for quite a while, but today it is much worse and I can’t use my unit now. For a long time we have been getting an issue where the unit would get stuck on “centering” or “focusing”, even after only doing one print, even if that print only took 8 seconds. We would have to turn the unit off, manually center the laser under the camera, and turn it back on to even be able to do a print. The issue had gotten better over the past 2 weeks or so, but today we ran into a catastrophic failure and have been unable to get orders out the door that are due this week. Super disappointing.

For anyone curious, this is what I have done so far:

  • Cleaned absolutely everything
  • Checked all ribbon cables and clips (everything is normal)
    *power cycled the unit (about 20 times at least)
    *Tried manually centering the laser again and also leaving the laser in the upper left corner. No change here. The unit boots up like normal, but the laser never actually moves to try to “find” the camera. Its like it is missing this step in the startup sequence. I wait and wait, hours even, but literally nothing happens.
    *I tried blacking out the room so that there is no light in there, no change.
    *used different wifi including a hotspot on my phone with the phone literally right next to the unit.
    *The ONLY thing that I could do to get any sort of different behavior was to put the laser in the upper left, open the lid, and start up the unit and leave it sit for 20+ minutes and then close the lid. When I did that, the unit would go like it’s going to the camera but would overshoot the camera. After a few more seconds, it would go all the way down and hit the bottom of the glowforge where the infeed door opens and make this horrible “GRIND GRIND GRIND” sound because the laser is trying to be moved outside of the limits of the machine.
    *It would stop and be askew, so I would then be forced to restart the unit.
    *I’ve done this with starting the head in the upper left, in the center, and on the bottom right, but the same exact behavior happens every time.
    *I’ve tried everything with material in the bed, proofgrade in the bed, nothing in the bed, crumb tray in, crumb tray out. Nothing seems to matter at all or affect anything.

The unit was working fine for a single engrave this morning, and worked fine yesterday for a number of prints. This literally just happened out of the blue in between engraves. Nothing changed inside the unit.

It absolutely seems like a software-cloud side issue, considering this EXACT behavior has happened to multiple people, but so far Glowforge support hasn’t contacted me at all. We are going to miss our deliverables deadlines because of this. Extremely disappointed right now.

Just thought I would share all my steps and experience for anyone else out there that is having the same problems. In the past I’ve been able to restart the unit several times and it would eventually calibrate, but that simply isn’t happening today and I have no idea what to do. Any help is appreciated.

Thank you!

If you go to the main company page, the support section has a live chat feature, maybe they would have some insight.
I personally have never had the initial calibration issue over more than 2 years, so it is within the realm of possibility to have a dependable machine. We hear of the problems, not the triumphs, there are thousands of these out there.


This has got to be super frustrating. You have documented all the usual troubleshooting steps. I can’t think of anything else to do at this time. Glowforge might have some info from your logs that can help.

My machine is very reliable, so as @PrintToLaser says, it is possible to have a machine that works well.

I hope they can get this taken care of fast for you.


This happened to me the other day when I had matte black acrylic in the bed. I used the Support chat option, and they were able to tell me the camera wasn’t able to “see” the material to focus on. I had put a small section of masking over the area I wanted to cut, but I guess that’s not where it was looking for its startup sequence. When I positioned the head over the masking before powering up, it was able to finish the scanning routine and start up properly.


I’ve had similar to you…using some Inventables black over clear two-tone. Finally used some white out along one of the edges of the material. I mean I couldn’t even see the edges, so I couldn’t expect a camera to do any better.


Have you done any checks on your WiFi? Just because your phone is next to the :glowforge: doesn’t mean it has a stable connection…

I mean, I kinda hope they can find something off on your machine and fix it with replacing a part, but with those kinds of semi-constant issues it really sounds like it’s a WiFi issue

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It’s not a wifi issue. I moved the actual router right next to the unit as well. I have 10,000 square foot whole-home mesh network as well from Eero Pro.

Anyway, as an update, glowforge team investigated and had me do some other stuff, but they said that the logs are pointing to the black ribbon cable that connects the lid to the base as being the culprit. It’s the cable that is flexible and moves when the lid is opened and closed. They are sending me a replacement cable with priority shipment and I will have it installed Friday.

I’ll update this thread here and let you know if this actually fixed the issue or not.


I’m sorry you ran into trouble. Since you’ve already emailed us about this and we’re working on it there, I’m going to close this thread. Thanks for letting us know about this.