Tracing options

What options will we have when we draw on a material and cut it? Will we be able to offset the cut from the line or be able to choose which side of the line it cuts on? I have to make lids for odd shaped boxes and what I do now is trace the box with a permanent marker and either cut on the outside of the line or offset it 1/16th of an inch to give the lid more clearance. It would be great to be able to trace once and be able to cut an oversized piece for the lid and an undersized piece to glue as a key to position the lid on the box. I’m not thinking about the kerf of the laser, but one side or the other of a 1/8" permanent marker line.

I would like to add to this, will the camera pick up on a pencil drawing? Ball point pen? So far I have only seen examples using a sharpie.

We’ve done some extremely fine examples but we’ve got a lot of tuning of the optical system to get it really dialed in. We believe we can get pencil drawings, though.

You use a magic-wand-type tool to identify what gets cut and what gets engraved. You also have the choice of centerline, inside, or outside for cutting.


Watching your latest YouTube video, it seems like the default is the perimeter of the drawing is cut and everything else is engraved. Will this magic-wand-type tool let us cut out sections of the drawing that are inside the perimeter? (i.e. make a part that looks like a slice of swiss cheese).

If you look carefully, you’ll see there’s an internal plus-sign somewhere that was cut out. You can definitely swiss cheese. What you’re seeing was an artifact of rapid user education. We said: Draw a closed shape, then decorate the inside. People did that and the results met their expectations. You’ll have more flexibility!

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Trace Mode ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED mode would be in papercraft/pepakura assisted cuts:

  1. Print model on one or more pieces of card stock, depending on model
  2. Place printed sheet in Glowforge to scan
  3. Software automatically detects exterior borders of each cut
  4. User cleans up extraneous cutlines and can:
    • draw-to-highlight or lasso areas to add interior or undetected cutlines
    • manually add cutlines using simple in-app tools
    • manually add cutlines using external program

I’m thinking that being able to scan in multiple sheets at the start would be a lot more efficient then scan, cleanup, cut, repeat. Taking sheets out after scanning and putting them back in to be cut introduces two problems: imperfect placement, and incorrect sheet order.

Perhaps between step 2 and 3, the Glowforge could etch a few registration marks in empty areas of the sheet to help counter any skew when the sheet is reinserted, and at the same time add a small sheet identifier to check that sheets are being reinserted in the correct order.

I was wondering about cutting a few extremely small perforation holes along fold lines to assist with stiff stock, but it would require a fair amount of research for optimal results (e.g. avoiding tiny singe marks on visible areas).