Uneven cutting


I am in the middle of a large project and have run into a problem. My intricate pattern cut beautifully on most of my piece of Proofgrade Thick Walnut, but not all of the cuts went through the board. I have made several pieces just fine, but this one board did not cut well. I need 12 pieces of wood to do this project and I only ordered two extra pieces.
Any suggestions as to how I can make sure my cuts work 100% of the time. I don’t have time or supplies for any more errors.

In the future, you should always check that the cuts made it through before you move the piece - because if they didn’t you can go back to the GFUI and run the cut line again

If you slow down the speed of the PG cut it’ll cut through more deeply, but if it doesn’t need it you’ll end up with more flashback on the bottom

For fixing this piece I’d suggest an x-acto knife and patience - or if you know the tolerances of your camera you can always try a visual alignment to run the cut line again

2 Likes

Try to click the “>” after the thick Walnut call out and read what the settings are. If the power is high and the speed under 300 then all you need do is cut the speed by 50 and try it in something small, even some scrap. What @deirdrebeth said about checking is the way to go. As the :proofgrade: wood has masking on both sides there is some protection against flashback but if there is too much another layer on the bottom is not going to make it harder. to cut

When in doubt it does not take much wood to do this…


and you can start making a reference collection of tests. that will tell you what works

Although a certain amount of variation in any material (including PG) is inescapable, making sure it’s flat on the bed is critical.

My experience is that there’s “flat” then there’s FLAT. A very common gotcha is that even a visually undetectable warping of the material can cause issues. If you tap anywhere on your material and hear a click or an hollow sound, it’s not FLAT.

Your best bet is to cut out a dozen or so Honeycomb Bed Holddown Pins and use them to make absolutely sure your material is firmly secured. I cut out a few from draftboard scraps leftover from various jobs – you cannot have too many of these. :sunglasses:

My cutting success skyrocketed when I adopted these as part of my workflow.

Best of luck!

5 Likes

Yes, this.

And ditto on not moving anything until you’re sure. I have a weeding tool from my Silhouette that I use to lift pieces to check. I know some people use dental tools. In desperation, a bit of tape will do the trick.

Oh, and most obviously, make sure all your mirrors/lenses are clean.

3 Likes

@fineartd I’m so sorry your print didn’t turn out the way you expected! In order to narrow down the problem, I have a few important things that I’d like you to check. If you see a step you’ve already done, just let me know that you skipped it:

First, your material must lie flat. This requires a clean, properly installed crumb tray and flat materials. Second, there must be no obstructions, dirt, or damage preventing the laser light from reaching your material. Third, your design must be set up properly - for example, with lines that are fully on the material and that are set to cut. It’s hard to know which issue might be affecting your print, so please thoroughly inspect your unit and design according to the suggestions below.

Crumb Tray mispositioned or holding particles

If the Crumb tray is mispositioned or holding bits of material from packaging or printing, it could keep your material from lying flat. Even a millimeter difference in height could affect your laser’s ability to cut.

  1. To remove the crumb tray, lift the lid, then swing down the front door. Lift the crumb tray slightly and slide it towards you to remove it. Be careful not to tilt the crumb tray up, or it will knock into the printer head and rails.
  2. Remove all dust and debris from the bottom of your Glowforge.
  3. There are four dimples for the feet of the crumb tray to sit in. Wipe them with a damp tissue or cloth.
  4. There is a slot in front of the crumb tray, under the handle. Point it towards a garbage and shake the tray so that debris falls out. If debris is stuck in the honeycomb, gently push it out. Debris can force the honeycomb to be uneven, or prevent your material from resting flat against the honeycomb.
  5. Replace the tray. Make sure that it’s facing the right direction and that the tray’s four feet drop into the small dimples. When the four feet drop into place, the tray will no longer slide freely.

Material not lying flat

Even when the Crumb Tray is clean and flat, the material may not be lying flat on the surface. Some materials can develop a curve (called ‘warp’), and warped material may not cut through consistently. The problem is especially likely to occur if the print is large.

  • Soft materials, like Proofgrade leather may need to be smoothed into place. Any lumps or bumps will affect print quality.
  • Read our troubleshooter on warped material for ideas on how to take care of your materials.

Lens or Windows are Dirty or Damaged

Your Glowforge unit’s laser is powerful, yet it can be stopped by a tiny amount of dirt or damage to the lens or windows. If something gets between the laser light and your materials, they won’t cut through. Here’s how to check for damage and clean your lens and windows at the same time.

1. Remove Printer Head
Turn off your Glowforge. Grasp the printer head as shown, and pull gently up and back to disengage the magnets and remove it.
2. Remove the lens and check for scratches or dirt.

  • Gently insert the lens tool into the bottom of the head with the “Remove” arrow pointing in. When you hear the magnet click, withdraw the tool and the lens.

  • Look at the lens on the tool. It should be resting on top of the tool like a bowl, with the top open and with the orange-colored optics on the bottom. If it’s upside down, it won’t work properly.

  • Gently slide the lens off the lens tool. Be careful to touch only the metal ring to avoid fingerprints on the lens.

  • Check the lens for fingerprints, dirt or scratches. If you see a scratch, you can order a new one at shop.glowforge.com.
  • Wipe both sides with a Zeiss lens wipe.

3. Put the Lens Back In
If the lens appears clean, you can put it back.

  • Flip the lens tool until the “Install” arrow points up.
  • Set the lens down on the lens tool. The open side goes away from the blue plastic, so it looks like a bowl on top of the tool.
  • Slide the lens tool up into the printer head until the magnet clicks, then remove the tool.


4. Replace Printer Head
Review instructions for snapping in your printer head, then put the head back on.

5. Inspect the Head Window and the Laser Window

  • Check the windows for damage. You can find one window on the left side of the printer head, and another just over the left rail. Shining a bright flashlight at an angle onto the window may help you to see more clearly.
  • If you see any damage, write support.
  • Otherwise, wipe the window clean with a Zeiss wipe.

Once you’ve inspected and cleaned, please try another print. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Please print the Gift of Good Measure on Proofgrade Draftboard and let us know the result. If it doesn’t print well, please let us know the date and time of your print and send photos of the front and back of the print.

Thanks in advance!

1 Like

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies on this thread so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email support@glowforge.com.