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Prestige593

Calling all Glowforge Owners

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I have been surfing the web, YouTube, FaceBook, and some various forums but coming up short for answers. I recently got a mini desktop laser and have been tooling around with it. So far I'm not that impressed. I have seen a lot online about Glowforge, but never in person. I am asking for the Glowforge owners to give me the Good, Bad, & Ugly. I am not asking for options from people who don't own one, but rather from actual owners/operators. My main purpose will be to laser etch in fine detail on leather to come up with some cool stuff.

Let's hear it....

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I’ve used one pretty extensively on leather at my local maker space. 
 

Good: easy ui. Lots of support from other users on forums including trouble shooting and some free files. Nice sized bed (depending on model you get). Cleaning/routine maintenance is easy. 
 

Bad: we’ve had a lot of problems with ours and when it’s down it takes a long time to get back via warranty service. Could be due to so many different people using/abusing it but I’d recommend looking at the user forums. Also all the processing is done on glowforge’s servers. So you need a stable internet connection and for the company not to go out of business! 
 

feel free to ask any questions. 

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I don't own the Glowforge, so feel free to ignore my comment. But I do own a 90W laser and have some experience using it on leather. You said you're coming up short on answers - what were your questions?

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I have a Glowforge.  Purchased it last fall after using one of the mini lasers for a year.

The Gowforge is a major investment, so working with something less expensive for a while before making the investment as a "proof of concept" for what you are doing is a good idea.  I purchased mine for engraving on leather, I do a lot of personalized items using the laser - I can tool some things but not with the clarity of the laser, and not without spending many more hours than the laser.  I also, wanted to be able to use it for creating durable patterns for my work.  Lastly, I was interested in being able to create embossing plates, for embossing highly detailed images into the leather - again without the time involved with tooling it by hand.

The Glowforge has done a wonderful job with all I wanted from it.  Additionally, I have used it to make various one-off plaques and other pieces I would never have thought of before starting to work with it.  There are cheaper (much) options, but the reason I chose the Glowforge was I wanted something which would do what I want without me needing to try this and adjust that, also, I wanted an interface that would allow me to visually place the image I was engraving and have the accuracy that I could literally engrave right next to stitching, etc. and have it turn out exactly as I wanted.  To me, that justified the expense.

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I have to second everything said above by Prarie Dog. Wonderful machine. I cut 15 wallets with sticking holes, etching custom designs into the at the same time on about an hour... No way I could have 15 "tooled" and ready to sew by hand. It had been a significant investment but will worth it. 

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To all people who are thinking about a glow forge go to any laser forum that is not affiliated with glow forge and see what they say about it. It is easy but!  

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I still have not pulled the plug in a 'real' laser. I did get a small $160 desktop laser that I messed around a bit with. The reason why I am leaning towards the Glowforge is because it seems that they dumb it down for people like me who have no idea what they are doing. I guess its as close to 'plug & play' as can be. Ive checked out some laser forums and it it all seems that they stay away from Glowforge because they can get lasers much cheaper and have more free range as opposed to being married into the Glowforge family.

On a personal note, I just saved up a bunch of money to get a laser............ aaaaaand of course some unforeseen home improvement issues popped up.

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I have a glowforge. I like it. Took me some time to learn the software stuff, converting drawings to digital art, editing, etc. Using Krita software cause it’s free and I spent all my money on the laser. You can really dig down on details. And torture rodents a la Goldfinger James Bond style. 

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On 12/31/2020 at 12:47 AM, GrayHallidayJr said:

I have a glowforge.....

Gray, I've long admired your work. Can you describe how the laser is used in your belts and strap projects?  

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On 1/1/2021 at 10:53 AM, maxdaddy said:

Gray, I've long admired your work. Can you describe how the laser is used in your belts and strap projects?  

I burn the uploaded artwork directly onto the leather. You can dial in and get so much more detail with the leather. The above fish scroll is a tad over an inch in height. You could never get scrolls that small with a swivel knife. Then bevel. I used to cut the art edges with a swivel knife, but it’s not necessary. It’s easy to bevel off of the laser burn. 
 

The artwork takes the most time. The laser is only as good as the artwork you are printing. You can upload any number of designs/images from the internet- some with photo like real ness. I once did a black and white photo of Hank Williams and the shading was perfect. Looked like the photo. Once the artwork is in the Glowforge system, you can just hit print again as many times as desired. Or resize it to a wider belt. Everything else before was just a one off. I never used stencils I just cut and drew onto the leather. I still do some “old school” carving. It took me a long time to self teach myself the Krita art software. That was a slow learning curve. 
 

All in all, the laser is a great tool for the artist/leatherworker. A paintbrush in the hand of a novice won’t produce a masterpiece. 

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14 hours ago, GrayHallidayJr said:

All in all, the laser is a great tool for the artist/leatherworker

You've obviously done a great job of integrating it into your workflow. Thanks for the details. 

Will the Glowforge also burn the stitching holes?

I've had a Cricut Maker for about a year and I should probably start working it into my projects using a similar approach. I'll need to 'outgrow' the Cricut before I can justify the expense of a Glowforge. 

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19 hours ago, maxdaddy said:

You've obviously done a great job of integrating it into your workflow. Thanks for the details. 

Will the Glowforge also burn the stitching holes?

I've had a Cricut Maker for about a year and I should probably start working it into my projects using a similar approach. I'll need to 'outgrow' the Cricut before I can justify the expense of a Glowforge. 

I dunno, I think it’s apples to oranges - but I don’t own a laser. I’ve found a variety of leather uses for my Cricut but it’s limited in ways a laser just isn’t. Wish I could rent a glowforge for a month to see what I could and couldn’t do with it.

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2 hours ago, Retswerb said:

I dunno, I think it’s apples to oranges - but I don’t own a laser. I’ve found a variety of leather uses for my Cricut but it’s limited in ways a laser just isn’t. Wish I could rent a glowforge for a month to see what I could and couldn’t do with it.

Try a local makerspace. That’s where I use(d) one in the before time... long long ago (pre-covid)

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21 hours ago, AmyK said:

Try a local makerspace. That’s where I use(d) one in the before time... long long ago (pre-covid)

Yes, I’ve considered this in the past but just can’t justify the cost for my local one unless I could quit work for a month and basically live there.

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49 minutes ago, Retswerb said:

Yes, I’ve considered this in the past but just can’t justify the cost for my local one unless I could quit work for a month and basically live there.

That sucks. Mine is $25/mo no commitment 

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23 hours ago, AmyK said:

That sucks. Mine is $25/mo no commitment 

I’d do that in a heartbeat. I believe mine is somewhere around $150/mo and most of the cool equipment requires a paid class before use. I was excited when I toured the place but it’s just not realistic for me.

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I did not buy a GlowForge. They are highly advertised and look nice but I didn't wish to have to go through a company to get anything I want to use for additional money. That said: I bought a 3000Mw diode laser to practice on.

Sufficient for that purpose, biggest problem is the low power and they are very slow. Dove into the big boys. Orion 60W CO2, Chinese Laser. With the crate it had a delivery weight of 400#. It is a floor model.

Out of the crate it worked perfectly and has continued to do so. I simply could not afford an American made with nearly the same specs. I use LightBurn software and wouldn't be without it. Also use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Have a daughter who is a professional graphic artist. I intend to do some leather engraving, have been so busy with other items I haven't had time. My laser will do leather, wood, glass, anodized aluminum, cork, fabric, plastic, ceramic tile, marble, etc. Enclosing pics of a couple items I have made.

Second one is on 1/4" Baltic Birch, first, is a vintage photo on 3/4" Hickory

Ferg

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Edited by Ferg

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4 hours ago, Retswerb said:

I’d do that in a heartbeat. I believe mine is somewhere around $150/mo and most of the cool equipment requires a paid class before use. I was excited when I toured the place but it’s just not realistic for me.

DAMN son! I had to do an orientation for the Glowforge but it was free. 

All of this being said one day when I can afford one I'm leaning toward the Dremel DigiLab. I don't want my laser to stop working one day because GF goes out of business. I know the overseas ones are just as good but I've gotten burned on an industrial sewing machine like that. Its a Juki clone and its just too much tweaking for me. For someone used to these machines I have no doubt it would be great. Wish I could sell it and I might try to. 

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I'm gonna go and do what the op didn't want. But please don't get a glowforge . Please go find someone that has a Rabbit or a Boss or a Thunder laser. You can buy one here in the USA  for about the same price as a glo pro and its going to be 10 times the machine. Have good support and doesn't depend on the internet to work.Someone asked it it would cut the stitching holes. You can program in corel to put the holes in. You make them the size you want and space them at what you want and the laser cuts them out. Not sure if you can do it with a glowforge.

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I have had my GF for about 4 yrs...had my first issue a couple months back...my warranty had long been gone and I was really worried about replacing it...it went dark...(prolly from me burning stuff I wasnt suppose to)...so I emailed them....they agreed to send me a refurbished Plus model just like I had, with a new warranty. It did cost me a grand...but mine was fried...I am back up n running,  and it has paid for itself over and over....I make custom stamps, burn plywood, etch tiles, & etch and cut leather goods with mine, and that was the first issue ever...and it was remedied in less than 2 wks total down time...the only negatives you will hear are from people who have not bought one..

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