- What's the wattage of the laser tube?
- What's the optional Air Filter?
- What's the size of the Glowforge bed?
- What file types does Glowforge read?
- What type of power is required?
- What is the difference between Glowforge Pro, Plus, and Basic model?
- What are the power requirements of a Glowforge?
- Do you have to replace the laser tube?
- What is the estimated lifespan of the Compact Filter cartridge?
- What are the dimensions of a Glowforge?
- What do I need to know about the Pro model’s Class 4 safety rating?
- How does the passthrough slot on the Pro model work?
- How do I vent my Glowforge?
- Can you vent without an Air Filter?
- How fast can the Glowforge complete a project?
- What is the accuracy/dot size of the laser?
- Can a Glowforge etch a glass or wine bottle?
- What are Glowforge's engraving capabilities?
- How loud is Glowforge?
Glowforge has a custom CO2 laser tube operating at 10,600 nm that averages 40W for the Glowforge Basic and 45W for Glowforge Plus and Glowforge Pro.
The Compact Filter lets you put the Glowforge anywhere. It’s about the size of a recycle bin, and it sits on the ground near your Glowforge, connected by a hose. It does a fantastic job of removing the smoke and fumes from the Glowforge unit and returns the clean and filtered air to the room. That means it’s safe to operate your Glowforge anywhere when the instructions are followed.
In fact, the filtered air from the Compact Filter has significantly fewer particles than typical indoor air. Alternately, you can use your Glowforge near a window with the included hose.
The Glowforge Basic and Glowforge Plus bed can accommodate materials measuring 18” x 20.4. The maximum printable area is 11 x 19.5”, and it’s reduced somewhat when the laser operates at high speed, as it can take space for the laser to decelerate. There’s a tray for materials that are up to 0.5” thick, or the tray can be removed to accommodate materials up to 2” thick.
The Glowforge Pro adds a Passthrough slot to accommodate material that is up to 20.4” wide, up to 1/4" thick, and as long as you want.
Glowforge is compatible with JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, and other file formats. You can create Glowforge-compatible files from a variety of different software platforms like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk 360, & Sketchup - even Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. To print a file, just drag-and-drop it directly on our app, which appears as a web page in your browser. Alternately, you can copy the contents of the file and paste it into the Glowforge dashboard. There, it will automatically interpret the information and show you a preview of the results. You can drag the images around on your material to position them where you want them.
Glowforge is designed for world voltages from 100-240 VAC, 50/60hz. On the back is a female connector like those used on the back of desktop PCs (IEC 60320-C14). We may not be able to include the right cable/plug, but those should be widely available locally for a few dollars. You don't need a separate transformer.
Let’s start with what’s the same: they’re all quick to set up and easy to use, and you can choose to work with dozens of different materials. Within thirty minutes of receiving your Glowforge, you’ll be holding your first finished print. They also come with everything you need to get started, and a supply of premium Proofgrade™ materials to learn with.
The Glowforge Pro is the most powerful and capable model, perfect for a small or home business, or when more than one person will be using it. The Pro Passthrough slot in the front and back allows for materials that are 20” wide and as long as you want, meaning you can create dramatic products like furniture. You cut or engrave the first 10”, then slide the material through the slot, then repeat.
The Pro also has upgraded optics and a more powerful laser (45-watt tube) than the Basic, which allows it to print up to 20% faster. It features a solid-state thermoelectric cooler coupled with a closed-loop liquid cooling system that allows for printing all day long without pausing for cooling in temperatures up to 81°F (27°C), compared to 75°F (24°C) for the Basic.
While the Plus and Basic models are a Class 1 laser (like a DVD player), the Passthrough slot makes the Pro model a Class 4 laser, which does require laser safety training (included with your purchase) and cannot be used around kids. Should you decide you’d prefer to use your Pro around children or in public, though, we’ll include a set of Pro Shields that seal the Passthrough slot.
Finally, the Pro offers a double warranty - 12 months instead of the standard 6.
The Plus offers all the features of the Pro but does not have the upgraded cooling or Passthrough slot. It is a Class 1 laser with a 12-month warranty.
The Basic is our introductory product and can make almost everything on the Glowforge.com homepage. It has a 40-watt laser, a 6-month warranty, and is a Class 1 laser.
The machine consumes 800W peak, but 300W is more typical - in the range of a desktop PC. Electrical costs are similar to running a desktop PC while it’s actually printing (and much lower when no print is occurring). The Compact filter has an additional 350W peak power consumption
The Glowforge tube is custom made - it's 850mm and has improvements for longer lifetime and smaller spot size. It's rated for 2 years, and the tube is covered under the warranty. Out of warranty, we'll replace it and realign it for you for $499, including roundtrip shipping within the US. We'll also have a replacement tube parts package available for purchase. Note that these are sold as spare parts only; the replacement tube parts package does not come with instructions.
There are a lot of factors that go into the lifespan of your Compact Filter cartridge. Some of those include how often you print, the designs you print, cutting versus engraving, and whether you follow the directions in the user manual for proper operation. For that reason, it is difficult to predict how long a filter cartridge will last.
To estimate, we tested Proofgrade materials with a standard Glowforge test print. It is 11 minutes long (the average duration of a Glowforge print, and is a mix of cutting engraving that reflects typical usage). If used only for cutting, cartridge life may be roughly half as long. If used only for engraving, it may be more than twice as long.
Note that we have only tested, and can only recommend, Proofgrade materials. Materials from other sources may work just as well, but some materials may clog the cartridge almost immediately. For example, MDF products (including Proofgrade Draftboard) will dramatically lower your filter cartridge life.
- Maximum material depth: 18" (455 mm) for Basic and Plus; unlimited for Pro
- Maximum material width: 20″ (515 mm)
- Cutting area: approx. 11″ (279 mm) deep and 19.5″ (495 mm) wide
- Maximum material height: 2″ (50mm)
- Maximum material height with tray: 0.5″ (13mm)
- 38" x 20.75" x 8.25" (965mm x 527mm x 210mm)
- 55 lbs (25 kg)
- 16.14” x 10.43″ x 16.92″ (L410 x W265 x H430mm)
- 48.5 lbs (22 kg)
- 45" x 28" x 16" (1168mm x 737mm x 406mm)
- 70 lbs (32 kg)
Glowforge Accessory Pack:
- 29" x 20" x 5" (737mm x 508mm x 127mm)
- 40 lbs (8 kg)
- 23" x 20" x 13" (584mm x 508mm x 330 mm)
- 54 lbs (24.5 kg)
Glowforge Founder's Proofgrade Materials:
- 23" x 3.5" x 13" (584mm x 89mm x 330mm)
- 15 lbs (7 kg)
The Glowforge Pro is a Class 4 laser. That means someone needs to be assigned as a “Laser Safety Officer” (LSO). The LSO makes sure your Glowforge Pro is used safely. We’ve worked with Pat Harris of Kentek Laser Safety University to provide training materials, included free, so you can be a responsible LSO for your Glowforge Pro.
The LSO training we provide recommends safety precautions to create “Class 1 conditions”. These safety precautions include using Proofgrade materials or Pro Shields. When Class 1 conditions exist, the Glowforge Pro does not create any additional laser safety hazards.
The Glowforge Pro should only be used in public or around children when the Pro Shields are in place.
For advanced users who create their own laser safety plan, additional safety precautions such as signs and the included laser safety glasses may be required.
The passthrough slot on the pro is 3/8" high but is designed in concert with the tray to work best with materials up to 1/4" thick. The material is cut or engraved. Then you push it forward, load a new file for the next part of the print, and repeat.
The exhaust connection is a standard 4" exhaust vent, similar to what one would use with a clothes dryer. Your Glowforge comes with an 8 foot exhaust hose to use for outdoor venting. You need to have a window or 4” dryer connection within 8 feet.
The Compact Filter lets you use your Glowforge anywhere in the home, school, or office. The size of a recycle bin, it cleans the air coming out of your Glowforge. If you don’t use a Compact Filter, your Glowforge comes with everything you need to vent through a window.
Cutting speed depends on many things:
- The Glowforge Pro and Glowforge Plus cut about 20% faster than Basic.
- The faster the laser moves, the more power is required.
- Thicker material requires more power and more time. Twice as thick takes more than twice as long to cut through.
- The chemical composition of the material makes a huge difference. Some 1/4" plywood cuts quickly; some 1/8" plywood is impenetrable.
This is why we offer Proofgrade™ materials - we want you to have consistent materials where you know that you can cut through every time, and you know how long it will take. If you use your own materials, you will need to do some experimentation.
For engraving, cutting speed depends on two things:
- How fast you move the laser head - slower makes the engraving deeper and, in some cases, darker.
- How big the area to be engraved is. The head must move over the area to be engraved, and while Glowforge is smart about setting its path, two dots an inch apart will take longer than two dots right next to each other.
The average print time is 12 minutes. The longest prints - full detailed engravings that cover the entire bed - can take up to 3 hours.
The X/Y axis motors can position the beam to within 0.001", which allows the laser to engrave with 1,000 DPI resolution. The laser beam engraves or removes material in a circular pattern. The diameter of the circle is about 0.008”, but if you’re cutting, the width of material removed - the “kerf” - varies from 0.008” - 0.025”.
Glowforge accommodates items up to 2" tall with the tray removed and can focus over a 0.5" distance. If you have something that will fit inside, like a spice jar or a hip flask-sized bottle, then it can engrave over the curved surface without difficulty.
If you need something engraved on all sides, however, then unfortunately Glowforge will not work.
However, you can cut a stencil, then use an inexpensive sandblaster to engrave the bottle. You can see an example on the community forum.
Glowforge engraves at about 1000 dpi, with a spot size of about 0.008”. It can vary both the speed and power of the engraving, changing the visual appearance of the material and removing more or less. It can engrave multiple passes, removing a little more each time. It can change focus with each engraving pass, enabling it to engrave more accurately, more deeply.
It can even engrave where each pixel is assigned a different amount of laser power. To accomplish this, you use a greyscale bitmap. The darker the pixel, the more power the laser will use when engraving it. This allows engravings with variable depth, like this engraved pyramid on the community forum.
The sound level varies because Glowforge changes fan speed based on the operation being performed. It can vary from a low rumble to a loud vacuum. You can also opt for slower cutting rates to keep the fan noise down.