I agree with you, it is a CNC Laser cutter.
Glowforge is a “3D Laser Printer”. Ready, Set, Debate! (Just kidding, please don’t. It’s been done.)
I’m also curious about this, why do you recommend getting a CNC to compliment your Glowforge?
Not to answer for Dan but giving my own answer. Smart tools complement each other. Right now I have a 3d printer and a small CNC router (handibot) and I am all the time “cross-pollinating” I make jigs on the 3d printer for the cnc. Finished maker projects often have parts from both in the finished product. I am looking forward to having a laser cutter to make that perfect triad of maker madness!
Just like typing something like “leather” into Google Maps, as @jbv suggested above, to find a leather store, you might find a local source for acrylic (and other plastics, like acetal or whatever) by searching for something like “plastic supply” into your mapping app/website of choice. Same with wood.
The rest of this post ended up longer than I intended and is quite Albuquerque-centric. I assume other cities have similar stores. They might not have as much selection as the online stores, but you don’t have to pay and wait for shipping and you can even see what you’re buying before you plunk down your money.
Here in Albuquerque there seems to be a couple plastic supply stores, but I’ve only been to one myself: Port Plastics.
They have a variety of acrylics on hand. I bought four pieces of 1/8" black (opaque) cast acrylic and four pieces of transparent yellow/green cast acrylic. All 12" by 24" pieces (cut to order). The black was ~$25 and the yellow was ~$30.
They also have tons of clear acylic cutoffs that they’re basically willing to give away. They sell it by the pound, but usually aren’t too worried about the actual weight that you’re walking away with. Whether the cutoffs are cast or extruded is not always known though.
In my experience they can usually have your plastic ready in within an hour or two - call ahead.
A cool wood supply store is Albuquerque Exotic Woods…
They seem to mostly cater to wood turners (people who use lathes to make wood stuff) but they also had a very decent selection of “hobby boards” (thin wood planks, often made from fancy hardwoods). I believe a “2 square foot” pack of 1/8" boards was $22.50 (regardless of wood type) and 1/4" was $25. I think they might have had 3/8" and 1/2" packs as well. I get the impression that they will also plain wood for customers, but I don’t know if they charge for that service.
I only went there once, but they had a lot of stuff on hand. For hobby boards you can definitely just drop in and pick some up.
And just down the road is Hunter Bower Lumber…
I’ve bought baltic birch plywood from them a couple times now. A 5’ by 5’ piece (cut to whatever reasonable dimensions I requested, for free) was something like $23 in 1/8" and something like $27 in 1/4". That’s basically pretty close to $2 per 12" by 24" piece. They’d probably cut it into 15 12" x 20" pieces if you wanted to get just the right size for the Glowforge. I should mention that I haven’t had outstanding luck with this baltic birch. There seems to be patches of glue/internal knots/whatever that mess up cuts. I don’t blame Hunter Bower for these problems though as apparently buying plywood for lasercutting is basically a crapshoot (until Proofgrade that is).
One way or another I always had to buy the sheet at least a day in advance of picking it up. I’m not sure if they’ll take an order over the phone.
If you think a CNC mill is right for you, I recommend them as a supplier. I wasn’t recommending everyone buy themselves a CNC mill.
If you’re good with CAD and don’t mind learning CAM software, then a good CNC mill will let you machine metal, which is helpful for some projects.