Tech Specs

What's the wattage of the laser tube?

Glowforge has a custom CO2 laser tube operating at 10,600 nm averages 40W for Basic Model and 45W for Pro Model.

What's the optional Air Filter?

The unique Glowforge Air Filter lets you put the Glowforge anywhere. It snaps right under the Glowforge and makes it 7” taller. The filter captures all of the exhaust and passes it through HEPA and charcoal filters. It's also tightly integrated with the software, so the filter turns on and off as it's needed. Alternately, you can use the Basic model near a window with the included duct.

What's the size of the Glowforge bed?

The Glowforge bed can accommodate materials measuring 18” x 20.4”. The maximum printable area is 11.5 x 20.4”, 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 has a passthrough slot to accommodate material that is up to 20” wide, up to 1/4" thick, and as long as you want.

What file types does Glowforge read?

Glowforge is compatible with JPG, PNG, TIF, SVG, AI, DXF, PDF, and many other file formats.

What type of power is required?

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.

What is the difference between Glowforge Pro & the Basic model?

Our Pro model is designed for frequent, shared use, like a makerspace. It comes with upgraded optics, tube, and cooling, which allows for faster cuts and engraves. We don't have final numbers yet (we're still tuning the motors and testing the custom tubes) but our estimate is that the Pro will cut the same materials as the Basic, but about 20% faster.

The passthrough lets you use long materials - 20" wide by as long as you want. You cut or engrave the first 10", then slide the material through, then repeat.

The Pro package also includes an Air Filter, which is available for the Basic model as a separate upgrade.

Note however that while the Basic model is a Class I laser (no precautions required), the passthrough slot makes the Pro model a Class IV laser, which does require additional precautions like glasses and warning signs.

What are the power requirements of a Glowforge?

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 air filter has similar power requirements, and automatically turns on and off as needed.

How often do I replace the Air Filter? How much does it cost?

It's difficult for us to predict how often your filter cartridge will need to be replaced because it depends not just on how much you use it but on the material you use. Hardwoods aren't very taxing but plywood might be, depending entirely on the glue (which is usually hard to figure out). It's varies a great deal, with light users pushing past a year between changes, and heavy users who are cutting nonstop changing them as often as every month or so.

When you do need to replace the filter cartridge, though, Glowforge will notify you. It's a custom filter cartridge and we're working on pricing, but we expect it will be less than $250.

Do you have to replace the laser tube?

The Glowforge tube is custom made - it's bigger than most desktop units (850mm) and has some modifications for longer lifetime and smaller spot size. It's rated by the manufacturer for 2 years, but could be less if it’s used for many hours a day. We're doing lifetime testing now to get better data.

We plan to have a replacement available for for less than $500.

What are the dimensions of a Glowforge?

Internal dimensions:

  • Printable area: 11.5″ (290 mm) deep and 20.4″ (515 mm) wide
  • Maximum thickness of material with tray installed: 0.5″ (13mm)
  • Maximum thickness of material with tray removed: 2″ (50mm)
  • Focus range: 0.5″ (13mm)

External dimensions:

Glowforge Basic & Pro:

  • 38" x 20.75" x 8.25" (965mm x 527mm x 210mm)
  • 55 lbs (25 kg)

Glowforge Air Filter:

  • 38" x 20.75" x 7" (965mm x 527mm x 178mm)
  • 25 lbs (11 kg)

Shipping dimensions:

Glowforge Basic & Pro:

  • 46" x 29" x 16" (1168mm x 737mm x 406mm)
  • 70 lbs (32 kg)

Glowforge Air Filter:

  • 46" x 29" x 12" (1168mm x 737mm x 305 mm)
  • 40 lbs (18 kg)

What do I need to know about the Pro model’s Class IV safety rating?

The Glowforge Pro is a Class IV laser because of the passthrough, so it requires safety precautions. Laser safety is regulated by CDRH, a subsidiary of the FDA. There are some stringent rules for using them in a place of work, like these OSHA guidelines.

The guidelines for safe use outside of a workplace are less clear. Safety glasses and warning signs are definitely required. Because of variations in laws and regulations, and the very high stakes, our attorney's asked us not to give out one-size-fits-all safety advice.

We wish we could be more specific with advice - but we can't, which is why we're encouraging people to get the less-expensive basic model if they’re uncertain.

How does the passthrough slot on the Pro model work?

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 an image is taken. You push the material partway through and it compares the new image with the old one to see how the material has moved. Then it resumes cutting the new material.

The overhead optical system is accurate to about 0.05". But the software can send the laser head over to inspect the previous cutline, which has a second, much more accurate camera - accurate to a few thousandths of an inch. This allows for very accurate registration of the subsequent pass.

How do I vent the Basic model?

The exhaust is a standard 4" exhaust vent, similar to what one would use with a clothes dryer. You can see an example of one at Home Depot.

Both the Basic and the Pro come with an included exhaust hose to use for outdoor venting.

Can you vent the Pro without an Air Filter?

The air filter sits underneath the Basic and Pro version, capturing the exhaust and processing it. If you decide not to use the filter, you can simply remove it. Both Basic and Pro versions have a 4" flange on the back for the exhaust. You can run up to 8' of dryer hose to vent it out a window. 4" dryer hose sells for about $10 at stores like Home Depot.

All models come with a hose that you can use for outdoor venting.

How fast can the Glowforge complete a project?

The easiest way to get a sense of the speed that Glowforge prints is to look at glowforge.com at the pictures of projects, each one of which has a print time. Just in case you'd like more detail, though...

Cutting speed depends on many things:

  • 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 will be selling 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.

What is the accuracy/dot size of the laser?

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”.

Can a Glowforge etch a glass or wine bottle?

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. There is no 4th axis rotary adapter, and there's not enough room inside for larger round objects like glasses and bottles.

However, you can cut a stencil, then use an inexpensive sandblaster to engrave the bottle. You can see an example on the community forum.

What are Glowforge's engraving capabilities?

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.

How loud is Glowforge?

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.