Where are all the 3D Engrave results?

One of the main reasons I got the Glowforge was the promise of detailed ‘CNC’-style, 3D-print rivaling #D engraving.

I understand the complication of creating Depth-Maps, but as an experienced 3D modeler and an owner of a LiDAR iPhone, creating those isn’t a problem. I’m aware there’s the option of ‘Vary Power’ or 3D print settings, but I’ve had pretty poor results whatever material I use and however I tweak my settings, during either generation or at the point of ‘printing.’

Where are all the results?? The community has very few posts on this. Is it just a case that the Glowforge really isn’t practically capable of the promised results?

If anyone has had any regular success without a week of clean-up after, I’d appreciate someone sharing.

(By the way - I have both SLA and FMD 3D printers, so please don’t just tell me to give up and go get those…!)

Thanks in advance all!

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Raht chere, as my grandpa used to say. :wink:


EDIT to add: “Depth map” is another good search term.


I’ve seen tons of them in the Facebook groups. It’s just kind of a boring “project” (upload file, hit print, here’s the result) so maybe fewer have shared them here on a forum.

Personally, I have found little desire to use that feature. I can’t think of many practical uses for engraving a depth map with a low-power laser. The range of depths you achieve is small and all depths are burned, not carved. It’s no replacement for a CNC router.

I did use the capability to emulate wood grain in cheap MDF, but that was just to play around.


I’ve done plenty. Hardwood pretty much exclusively. Works great. I buy from Rockler or big-box stores.

I don’t use failbook or upload many of my projects here, mostly because they are proprietary/company or individual specific.

rbtdanforth does a bunch, many of mine are like his. I do a lot of door name-plates for office folk, in 3d. I generally use Poplar.


This is one I did that I particularly liked:


I just posted some of mine, including a video tutorial on modeling Celtic knots in Nomad Sculpt, making depth maps in Blender and carving them on a Glowforge and a desktop CNC:


I think the Glowforge is as capable of producing 3D engraves as any other 40W laser. It’s just not something that most people do. You really need a combination of the best possible material, the best possible starting image, and well-tuned settings, and even then what you get out is a flat thing with a little bit of depth and maybe some shading. I’d never call it 3D-printer-rivaling. Also I have that thing where certain kinds of patterns gross me out, and unfortunately a lot of 3D engraves I’ve seen, I wish I hadn’t.


yeah, 3D engraves require the right file/starting image to even start making it work.

here’s my 3D engrave.


I have had good results with basswood, but it is not a technique that I find myself using much. Part of the reason for that is the final product still looks like wood even when painted, and I am more interested in simulating the look of metal and plastic.


Probably my favorite is this one. No masking, no finishing, and on a scrap of hardwood.
Right out of the laser, and after washing with water and allowing to dry:

It’s a glorious machine :smiley:

Oh yeah - I don’t think anybody has linked to THE 3D Engrave yet!


I’ve had a lot of fun exploring it.


I see you’re from my old stomping grounds! Lived in York for 16 years till 2017 when I moved to Maryland. Went to college on the greenfield exit in Lancaster!

Those are great! I have a bunch of textures like that stack of spheres but have not gotten around to using it yet.

This is a favorite that is pretty deep walnut…


The reason I went with the Glowforge originally was because I would rather have my 3d in walnut while no matter how fancy, standard 3d printer results were still plastic.


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