Use of red to laser preview burn

I received my Glowforge on Monday and I have to say that it is simply amazing! I have made so many Christmas gifts already and those who have seen them are very impressed.
I have a wish to add to the hopper. We all know that there are issues with the preview image where the engrave does not line up with the material (the farther you get away from the lid camera). Until that is fixed, I would love to see a feature where you could preview the cut/engrave with just the red laser, so a button that will show the preview job, then you can look at the material and the red laser would go around the material showing you the outside edges of where the burn will be. This would save a lot of time and material.


Unfortunately this would be prone to the same difficulty because the relative position of the red laser varies dramatically with thickness and flatness of the material. This is by design because that is the purpose of the red laser. It is aimed at an angle so the head camera can see how far away it is and thereby measure the material. This is how we’ll get continuous autofocus someday. Perhaps they’ll also use it to more accurately dewarp the bed image.

Some folks use a low power score to see ahead of time where the cut will be. Or a low power high speed engrave of a small finial can be done to stay in the mask only.


I often preview jobs with marks on copier paper. I’d love it if the red laser could do the job instead. In principle they can assure it hits the right spot, I would think.

If I had a magic wand this is how I’d implement it.

  • Add a modal “print preview options” dialog box after you hit Print. (or put it in app options, when they have them)
  • Print preview options are things like:
    – show bounding box only
    – show outermost cut
    – show interior cuts too
    – show only these objects [include the same list of operations from the left side of the app UI]
    – Lots of potential options here, design challenge is to find the best ones!
    – There is no “do not preview” option because you actually choose to invoke the preview or not with The Button. (Yes, we are wasting cloud computation cycles. Maybe this is too expensive, I don’t know.)
  • Print is prepared, The Button glows as usual.
  • If you don’t want to preview, you press The Button once like usual
  • If you want to preview, you press and hold The Button, and you watch the show.
    – If you like the preview, you press The Button and print.
    – If you don’t like the preview, you open the lid, move the material, close the lid, and press-hold The Button to re-run the preview

Seems like a red dot preview would fail bigtime with uneven surfaces though. Continuous autofocus will see us all doing those jobs eventually, so maybe this feature is an evolutionary dead end anyway.

All in all I would prefer the camera work automagically. :slight_smile: It does work better than before, I need to train myself to use it and learn its quirks. Still, I bet I’d use a quick red dot bounding box preview as a safety net if it were available.


Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I’ve shared them with the team.