We’ll release a GPL-licensed firmware for Glowforge

Missed steps are more of an issue with laser cutters than other gantry bots because soot tends to accumulate on the rails. The wheels need to ride pretty tight on the rails to avoid any wobble in the effector, so they get stuck really easily if there is any build up. Easy solution though: Keep your rails clean with a little soap + water. Don’t use any chlorinated cleaning solutions.

One of my biggest issues with g-code (at least with regard to modern 3D printers) is the printer’s dumb assumption that everything is as it should be, and its inability to respond to any sort of error. For example, you can end up with a 12-hour print which starts to fail on hour 2 (sometimes knocking the print over entirely), yet the printer continues to step through the G-Code extruding a rats nest of plastic for the next 10 hours. Presumably with all of the onboard cameras, image processing in the cloud, and the above mentioned motion processing occurring in the cloud as well, the glowforge could self detect issues during the cut and either attempt correct them in real-time, or at least fail gracefully. Is this something you guys are doing? It seems like an obvious next step for 3D printers as they mature towards viable home manufacturing for the masses, but I have yet to see anybody even attempt it.

Generally very cool stuff though – we’re all a big fan of standards like g-code I’m sure, but I’m always happy to see them thrown out the window if it otherwise lets you take a big ol’ leap forward.

The big issue with that is… how does the computer know when something went wrong?

For us… trivial to recognize. But programming a computer to analyze a bundle of pixels and identify “a problem” with printing is quite a bit harder.

Agreed — it’s the feedback that’s missing. One major issue with 3D printing (filament-based) is what happens when the filament breaks or runs out during a print.

There are a couple of manufacturers that have built-in break detection, plus a number of aftermarket/DIY hacks, but they are of limited utility — there are so many things that can go wrong that it makes it quite difficult to accommodate them in advance.

First Law of Cybernetic Entomology: There’s always one more bug.

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We already have 3D scanners on the market which use a combination of lasers and optical sensors that generate a 3D rendering of the object in virtual space. There’s no reason a 3d printer couldn’t have a similar built-in capability to perform a regular delta between the object being physically extruded and the source model (taking into account regular layer extrusion). It wouldn’t necessarily be exact, but would know if the supports completely fell away, the printer stopped extruding, a stepper motor got jammed, the print started peeling, etc (most of the issues associated w/ 3D printers). That said, there would be a ton of processing required to convert the dot cloud into a 3D model, and perform regular fuzzy deltas against the source model. However, the Glowforge approach of everything in the cloud would make this totally viable.

Since the Glowforge laser cutter functions in 2 dimensions instead of 3, the image processing would be significantly less complex. The cameras are already there, the horsepower in the cloud is already there… seems like this would be entirely doable. Crazy complicated – but doable.

Just a thought. Sorry for the topic change, but the opportunities this approach (cloud processing) takes opens up a lot of interesting possibilities.

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Definitely a big item in the feature hopper: detecting issues during printing and reacting properly.

Is there a high temperature alarm circuit inside the GF that will alert the operator to a fire or abnormally high temperature situation?

Well, you should never, ever operate a laser cutter and walk away - even if it’s a long job, you need to stand by and watch it. That said, a piercing siren may still be appropriate in case you get your head stuck in a modeling app!

I agree that it is not a good idea to walk away from a running laser, but an audible alarm and interlock for power would still be a good safety feature. Glowforge is probably studiously avoiding feature creep at this point, but it would be easy enough for qualified users to add a simple alarm.

i have a 3d printer and just like a laser printer you can walk away. that being said theres many time that i wish i never walk away. so coming from experience just dont walk away and keep an eye on it as much as possible.

Smoke detector, is a good option to have in your room anyways.

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@spike That’s funny that you mentioned a fire detector. I just picked up a couple z-wave fire/smoke & CO2 detectors. I’ll add them to the home automation system then create a ‘rule’ when if the alarm goes off in that room to kill the power to the z-wave outlet that I plan to plug the GF into. The bonus to that is I’ll get push notifications if that happens and awesome side effect is that particular outlet can also report power usage (amps and watts).


Now you’re talking my lingo!

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Ooh…coming from a dabbling in professional security, I hadn’t yet seen electrical outlets that were Z-Wave capable. Panels, breaks, fire, CO2, lighting, blind motors, and other things, but not directly on the outlet.
I need to look at that.

No…really…NEVER walk away from a laser cutter. A 3D printer failure most likely means a bad print. A laser cutter failure could burn your place down. Just don’t do it.

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Yep. For Elf… It’s not like the laser is going to instantly burst into a ball of flames. It’s safe as long as you don’t walk away. Kind of like using a barbeque grill. Keep a little spray bottle of water just in case the material starts to flame. If the flame doesn’t go out on its own, lift the lid and spritz it. And it’s smart to always have a handy extinguisher in any home or shop.


100000% agree with that!

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correct the consequence are more severe compare to a 3d printer.

OK, I agree too. Someone please locate a decent CO2 extinguisher on Amazon that doesn’t cost a zillion bucks.

I would love to find that elusive beast too, but even the smallest size I can find locally was quoted at around $240cdn. Ouch!