I’ve been using Proofgrade for 10 months. During that time I got to experience a gradual tweaking of settings and improvement in hardware so that the defaults work almost every time now. Any issues with them not cutting through are negligible for me now and seem to be due to placement in the bed unevenly or some type of warp.
Work with the Glowforge for a while and you learn settings enough that the QR code just becomes a reference point for starting. Something that works great for beginners or those with no experience in materials or knowing how to finish wood. You might not be the target market for Proofgrade if you understand how lasers and CNCs work in general, know how to finish wood, and understand the composition and sourcing of plastic and leather.
Proograde plywood and veneer has some great advantages for one off pieces that you can take it out and assemble and it’s ready to sell or give away. It is comparable to what I’ve tried to shop for. It beats anything I could try to source locally plywood wise.
Acrylic is where you might want to find the easiest cheapest supplier for you since it’s a much more universal formula. Hardwood you can make your own and finish or find a local supplier.
My take on the many reports of Proofgrade not working is that it is a reporting bias at work toward over-reporting problems and under-reporting successes. I have to catch up on posts from the last five days, but otherwise I’ve read pretty much everything ever posted and follow the Facebook group. I like the Proofgrade. I do spend time though looking for alternatives that I can use that might be slightly less expensive for odds and ends projects. For giving away a gift, the Proofgrade just works great.