Are wondering, “What the heck is Glowforge?”
A Glowforge is a 3D laser printer. It’s a CO2 laser that can be used to make so many amazing things! A wide variety of materials can be cut and/or engraved with it, such as wood, acrylic, fabric, leather, tile, canvas, etc. You can even laser mark metal (using special marking products).
It’s important to note that only materials that are safe for a CO2 laser are safe to use with Glowforge. Check out more about what materials can be used!
How do you use a Glowforge?
The Glowforge is in a safe, enclosed box. You lift the lid, insert the material you want to cut / engrave / score into the machine, and close the lid. You load your design into the Glowforge dashboard (online) from your computer or other device, using a WiFi connection. Then, you specify what you want the machine to do, click a button in the dashboard, then press the flashing button on the machine once it’s ready. Most owners can do the initial set up and complete their first project in about half an hour.
Glowforge machines need adequate ventilation. Lasers burn material and produce smoke, particles and odor. You can either vent out to the outside through a window or door, or you can purchase a Glowforge Compact Filter. Many people choose to vent outside and purchase inline fans to reduce the sound and possible odors/smoke of the Glowforge. This can also help reduce the noise level of using the Glowforge.
How much room is needed for a Glowforge?
My Glowforge sits on top of a workbench that has approximately 30 x 46 inch workspace. There is a little room on the side to set supplies and tools I’m using, but not much. There is quite a bit of storage in the drawers, which are very sturdy. The vent tubing takes up some additional room. Space is needed to sit and work on your device to control the Glowforge. You will need to stay close by while printing to monitor the machine, and you will need space to prepare, assemble and finish projects.
What skills are needed to use a Glowforge?
Users can either design their own projects, use files shared for free by Glowforge and other Glowforge users (like this site, for example, or in Free Laser Designs section of the Glowforge community), purchase designs from the Glowforge catalog, or purchase designs from other places, like Etsy. You can even do things like insert a drawing on paper into the machine and have it trace the image for you and then engrave that design on a sign, for example. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Glowforge Premium: Glowforge has been working on some new functionality. Glowforge Premium is a paid upgrade to your free Glowforge Print membership. It gives you access to creative tools and TONS of fonts and graphics. You can use it for free right now while it’s in beta. They have been working on some great improvements to the dashboard, so over time, we might begin seeing some really awesome changes.
With all of that said, if you want to have complete control to customize your designs, you will be most successful if you learn at least some basic skills using vector files. The software options vary greatly in terms of price and ease of use. We will talk about this more in the future!
What questions do you have about Glowforge? Is there something specific you’d like to see? Comment below and let me know!
See ya soon!