Discount available on glowforge laser cutter

(mark) #1

They are not cheap. But if you want one, you can get $1500 off the pro or $100 off the basic if you follow this link.

I get a small kickback if you buy so in a way, we are helping each other.

(Neil Ferreri) #2

@Mark_Estes Your link is just to the glowforge homepage. Am I missing something? I’m not seeing a discount.

(Caleb Pittman) #3

Same here. Just the homepage.

(mark) #4

Weird, try this one

(mark) #5

I asked the glowforge folks to sort this. stay tuned.

(Mark Walker) #6

I think that discourse might be cleaning your link. You may have to type it out non clickable. One way would be to tell people what the code is that they have to put after For example, the link is https : / / / SOMEFIVELETTERS… But you have to take out the spaces to make it work. Or perhaps if you avoid the boxification that happens when you put the link on a line by itself. You avoid that by putting the link in the middle of a sentence inside the paragraph.

I have a link as well, but since @Mark_Estes posted first, I’ll defer to his (though he needs to tell us what his five letter code is since discourse is stripping it). It does link through to the home page even when you use a referral link and you have to put a Pro in the basket to see the $1500 dollars off. I’m a little embarrassed to share my in any case though since the Glowforge still has a bunch of software work that needs to be done to get up to snuff for some of the hoped for functionality. Also, they’re using open source licensed software that they are still working on releasing the sources, but it is promised at some point.

Also, I should warn you all that the Glowforge is aimed at digital fabrication novices and so the UI is a bit surprising and unfamiliar to CNC folks. All that said, it’s fun having it around. There’s just some stuff that is easier in the laser cutter because you don’t have to mess around with fixturing, etc.

(Lee Ratliff) #8

Whoa… cool your jets, Chief. Mark was totally up-front about the referral bonus. Re-read his post.

Also, like many Kickstarter campaigns, Glowforge was wildly optimistic about when they would get the product to market, but it wasn’t a scam. It’s not for those who want the cheapest possible laser cutter. It’s for folks who want some of its unique features and who aren’t necessarily comfortable buying expensive equipment from a mystery vendor in China via Ebay.

(Evan Day) #9

Folks, I recommend keeping this topic impersonal. These forums are really great about not being a food fight between members. Let’s keep it that way. On that note, I would like to see more info regarding some objective reviews of the machine or its software, if any one has anything.

(William Adams) #10

Agreed. Also, @Mark_Estes has been a long-time member of this forum, so I would appreciate it if @SteamMaker would amend his post to take that into consideration.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Glowforge over at:

I would encourage anyone who is curious about it, or who wishes to discuss it, to read that thread, in its entirety first.

If folks can’t discuss this sort of thing w/o it becoming a problem, we’ll probably have to ban affiliate links — arguably they run afoul of the no stuff for sale guidelines which are already in place, but I’d rather err on the side of caution regarding such things. That said, such links really aren’t discussion, but marketing, so off-topic as well — instead state one has one and can send it on request via a PM?

(mark) #11

trying again.

so, the referral code is CMPZIYHT

And I am/was trying to be helpful. I mentioned that I get a kickback. I do own a pair of nomads and have been to their HQ a few times over the years. Chances are, your nomad has improvements/ fixes that were made because I beat mine hard in the early days and when it broke, I drove it over to Nomad HQ so they could see the issues first hand and fix them. thanks to those who came to my defense.

(Mark Walker) #12

So far, most of what I’ve seen is either cursory from early releases (like Tested’s video on Youtube) or vitriolic from folks that the idea of Glowforge makes them very angry even though they never intend to own one (like a lot of that thread on I admit that I can’t be too objective since I own one and because of the Ikea effect (I’ve put work into it so I’m more likely to like it), but perhaps some of my own subjective impressions would be helpful in the context that you know that about me.

Why Glowforge
I bought into the Glowforge on the Kickstarter basically because I’m over-anxious and paranoid about some things. One of them is losing my eyesight. A CO2 laser produces light at the long wavelength end of the spectrum (10 microns). That laser is invisible to the human eye, in fact your cornea is opaque to it so it can’t even reach your retina until it has burned a hole in the cornea which it will do fairly quickly if you somehow get a focused beam of sufficient wattage aimed at it. Some Chinese lasers are notorious for missing or poorly implemented safety features (I making a bald assertion there without references which you can research and come to your own conclusion, but that’s what led into my thinking anyway) like mis-wired ground and no laser power interlock on the door. I was hoping that a U.S. company where a safety event would likely be existential would put a little more care into the issue.

To be honest, I think the Glowforge company got there, but may have actually not been in the right place when I bought in. The original case was plastic only with a polycarbonate cover. Both are opaque to IR lasers, but could possibly melt under the right conditions. They changed the design at some point so that it is lined with steel and the cover is glass.

In that context, at the time, the Glowforge looked like a good choice. Cheaper lasers looked suspect to my novice eyes and safer lasers looked too expensive for a hobbyist like me. Plus most looked like they’d take more space than I was willing to commit to this thing.

Pro vs. Basic
I selected a Pro because it had “active” cooling. It turns out to be a relatively small Peltier cooler integrated into the case that buys you maybe 5 degrees of ambient. The reading I’d done on other laser cutters lead me to believe that I wanted both air-assist and active cooling (called “water chillers” on other makes). Both the Basic and Pro come with integrated air assist. The Pro adds pass through (which I’ve used) which makes it a Class IV device and contradicts my safety thinking above since that is one way the radiation can leak from the device though you can cover them with the “Pro Shields” that cover them with steel. The Pro also has a tube that’s the same size but rated to 45W instead of 40W which IMHO is likely just a tested output difference not a manufactured difference. It’s supposed to also have upgraded optics and linear components, but I also suspect that might be mostly marketing since there is currently no difference between the two that the owners have been able to determine (ie makes no difference in the operation of the device).

From what I understand, about half of the devices they’ve sold so far were Pro’s which wasn’t the mix they’d predicted internally.

Marketing and timelines
One of the disappointing things about GlowForge to date has been the over optimistic marketing. Some of this I forgive since starting a company like this requires a bit of willing suspension of disbelief among the founders, but I think they made a mistake not being more clear up front on both the fact that it was a “crowdfunded startup” and that a bunch of the stated specs were hopes and dreams and not already functioning (even in the prototype). So a bunch of customers let their expectations run away with them, ordered a laser, planned a business based on it and some even quit their job!?!

The original marketing said “first units ship in December 2015” during the campaign in October of 2015. They meant pre-release, beta units which they didn’t clarify until later and they didn’t expect to ship production units until April 2016. That also turned out to be completely wrong. I suspect here they were both misleading externally but also self-deluded internally that they could go from prototype to shipping in six months when they didn’t even have a manufacturer lined up. Hardware, especially v1 hardware takes many iterations to make something that can be produced in any quantity. Looking at the process at even experienced manufacturers should have made it pretty obvious they were waaay off.

I ordered mine on the first day of the campaign in late September 2015. I received my laser cutter in November 2017 and they still had a lot of units to build to fulfill the original campaign. They just finished shipping all of the U.S. units ordered in that first month, but there are still a lot of international customers waiting.

Cloud Only
The machine runs in a cloud-only way. If the unit can’t talk to GlowForge’s cloud, it refuses to do anything. It’s also Wi-Fi only. The theory here is that eventually they’ll publish their firmware (they’ve promised to do so and IMHO (and it’s not a legal opinion, just a personal one) obligated to do so by the copyrighted software they’re using), then the community will make an offline version. There’s one user who isn’t willing to wait for this and is working on a drop-in replacement controller board.

Promised, but undelivered features
Some key features that a lot of people are waiting for, but haven’t yet been implemented or completed:

  • accurate optical alignment - a big demo feature is to drop something in the machine that you’ve drawn the engrave or cut directly on the material. Unfortunately, the optical alignment isn’t accurate enough to make this really seamless
  • passthrough alignment - it’s supposed to be able to let you do a design on material that is 20" x longer than 11" by optically aligning the design with the next segment as you push it through 11" at a time (12" in the original marketing).
  • engrave and cut area - eventually they’re supposed to get to 20.4" x 11.5" cutting area. Today we’re limited to a smidge less than 19.5" x 11". And a bit more than that for engraves. This looks to be an issue with overshoot on fast moves which may also relate to an inability to attenuate the power or coordinate it with movement to do acceleration/deceleration properly.
  • continuous autofocus - the Glowforge can automatically read the material height and set the focus. The focus has a range of 0.47" which is sufficient (according to GlowForge) to handle materials that vary from paper thin to 0.5" thick. Today it takes a reading in one place, but they intend to adjust the focus during an operation to handle curved surfaces and multi-depth passes.
  • macbook and iPhone recognition - it’s supposed to have automatic settings (and recognition) for engraving popular devices, but it only does so for ProofGrade materials
  • NRTL listing
  • Automatic kerf compensation - not only does it not have auto kerf compensation, it also doesn’t have manual kerf compensation. It can’t do cut outside, cut inside. It always and only cuts right on the vector so you have to do the compensation in the design or in post processing of the SVG before uploading it to GlowForge.
  • Open source firmware

OK that was promises made to crowdfunders, how about now?
They’ve recently scrubbed the specs on the home page to reflect what the machine does now rather than what they hope to achieve. For a current buyer that makes their decision based on what it does right now, they’re much less likely to have the experience of disappointment in broken promises. Their US order book is nearly current (or ahead perhaps) so people are getting them within a few weeks of order (instead of 2 years like me or pushing 3 years if you’re Canadian).

How does the current functionality stack up?
For their broad target market of people who don’t yet “make” stuff who might want to, I think it does a pretty decent job. For the workflow of download a pattern from the catalog, drop in some ProofGrade material and hit “print”, it does pretty well. From what I can tell, new users first hang up is getting it connected to WiFi and the second is understanding that the only placement tool is via a flattened fisheye camera view which doesn’t show you the whole bed. It’s mostly just the cuttable area and it’s highly dependent on the distance from the camera to the material surface, so variations in thickness or warp will inevitably throw off their placement expectations. Personally, I cut a jig when accuracy matters and then I’m close (within a kerf 0.007" anyway).

The device works really well for what I want it for. It’s quicker and easier to set up quick cuts of thin material and can handle larger stuff (but not thicker) than my Nomad.

Right now, if you want a relatively compact machine with active software development that is designed (and even built) in the U.S. or Europe, this looks like the choice. It’s less expensive than an Epilog and even a similarly equipped FSL Muse (though that one has a removable bottom).

Redsail’s are too big for my location, K40’s just don’t product the same quality output (and aren’t as pretty either :slight_smile:)

For that reason, I’d like to see them succeed. I want there to be a reasonably priced laser cutter aimed at home use in the market. Right now, Glowforge looks like the one. Dremel is another possibility that is supposed to ship something later this year. It may be based on the FSL Muse, but I expect Dremel to dramatically up the game in terms of service and support.

They seem to have gotten their ducks in a row about over promising going forward (though they have 8,000-10,000 customers from before that they still owe stuff to). The one promise they’ve made that I think they must follow through on even going forward is complying with the copyright of software they’re distributing and then I won’t be embarrassed to recommend a product that makes promises it doesn’t keep.

The community is pretty great and you can get lots of help for what you’re trying to do. Kinda like with Carbide3D. Their community does have some superfans who get their feelings hurt and get super defensive when somebody criticizes their machine or the company. But if you ask questions that are aimed at producing a result, even those folks are great about lending a helping hand.

(Mark Walker) #13

You might be interested in some of the projects I’ve used it for. Some of these have components cut on my Nomad (aluminum plates). Many of these could be made completely on a Nomad too, but lasers!

(mark) #14

Short review and first few quick projects. A bit more frustration wrt getting setup vs the nomad but overall, similar learning curve. The work flow is relatively simple. The hard part thus far, is figuring out cutting speed, power, and how many passes. so, not that different than the nomad.

(Neil Ferreri) #15

@markwal Can you share how you designed that coaster storage box?

(Mark Walker) #16

Sure. It’s actually mostly a sketch in Fusion 360. I used parameters and repeating rectangular patterns to make the kerf cuts. It’s a nested rectangular pattern though which seems to really bog down Fusion 360 so now the thing takes 4 or 5 seconds every time I make a change. I think a better way to go might be to use the sheet metal mode. Model it out in 3D and subtract the slotted base from the wrap around, flatten it and then add the kerf cuts.

(system) closed #17

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