Template creation question

Hey guys, basic question here. This has been answered several times but there is an aspect of the material template that eludes me that I hope you can solve for me. I was going through some old posts and came across this one:

In the image the bottom left quadrant has the saying “Here be Fire”. This lead me to start asking how the templates were actually created. I can easily set up a grid that goes from 10 to 100% by 10’s for both speed and power, but once you start the “program” to cut out that grid, how would you stop it so that it doesn’t start a fire?

Is each square done separately and you have to do something like click “OK” to continue on to the next square? Is there a way to stop a cut in the middle, change what you want to have cut and then continue?

Sorry if this has been answered before, but my search terms didn’t bring back how to “delicately” create a template to avoid setting things on fire, or melt, or cause other unwanted results. At some point with each material I expect there is at least one (most likely more) setting that you really don’t want to have executed because the results are not desirable.


I don’t have a laser (yet), but intuition tells me you do the top row and when that’s done you look at it and move down to the next line. You’ll know when you start getting too much heat build up on the surface, you can see all the smoke and burn marks around those squares. So you take those out of your grid for the next line and repeat taking settings out that are obviously going to start fires.

It’s actually pretty hard to create sustained fire on a 40W laser with air assist and good exhaust (except maybe paper and then you don’t need this).


So it would be safe-ish to run more than one line at a time? I’d hate to scorch a lens by being over confident in how much flare up there will be, but I also don’t want to waste a ton of time running a grid box by box to check for burning

Yeah. I ran that whole pattern (the one linked on top) against 3mm and 6mm birch ply with a 60W laser and 20psi air assist (from the 100 gal shop compressor) all in one job.

You’ll get flares as it goes high power with really low speed but the air blows it out as the head moves on.

The tedious part was defining all the colors & power/speed combos in the laser software.

If I understand you correctly, you engraved all 100 boxes regardless of fire-ups? When I look at the picture that @joe had posted, it looks like all the squares around the “Here be Fire” section had flared up and therefore he stopped the testing at that point and adjusted the next row to not include those particular boxes.

If it helps, here is the post where that image came from. It sounds like the specific laser he was using only let him assign 8 colors, so he could only do 8 settings at a time.


That actually brings up an interesting software question. How many colors/settings will the Glowforge software be able to handle? @dan @tony?

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I’ve done dozens successfully - I don’t know if there’s any hard limit.


If you get time for it, could you set up a standard 10x10 test grid (change power on one axis and speed on the other). If we can run a full 100 colors that would be nice.

Of course even better is if we can just do gradient definitions in both power and speed, making it even easier to set up such a test grid.

Outside of that test grid, I cannot think of when I would use anywhere near 100 colors in one design.


Great idea. I second that.

That’s the hard part. Trying to remember which shade you assigned to the last swatch - they’re not usually easy to distinguish on smaller monitors. I ended up using a little Post-it sticky that I moved across the row of colors on the monitor as I set the color, speed and power for each square. I did all the labels at the same power/speed so those were consistently easy to see.

I cheated and defined all of mine by text in the SVG as I built the thing. That let me just to steps of 10 each “color” in Red for the X axis, and Blue in the Y axis.

Looking at the colors in the laser interface I could not tell at all how one was different from any of the neighbors (typically not even second neighbors)