Friday, June 25, 2021

Glowforge/future/things part!

Glowforge review!

So it has been a couple of months now and I have had some time to put my Glowforge through the wringer. If you want to skip the entire review the short story is: if you need it and you can afford it, buy one. They are very user friendly and I can't seem to find too many things to complain about. I guess it is a little slow but....patience prevails. 

After using it almost everyday, I realize that I was torturing myself with my old full spectrum 5th gen hobby laser. This is such an upgrade. If I had to make a comparison it would be between a horse drawn carriage and an automobile. Seriously, a lot of what I had problems with are now non-issues. There is auto-focus, there is a pre-set library for "proof grade" materials and the filtration unit seems to be doing its job so far. UPDATE: the filtration unit is now clogged after about 100 cuts. (I get about three insert sets per cut) So I am now hard piping directly outside. I may upgrade to an external fan to cut down on noise and be even more efficient with fume extraction but for now the internal fan seems to be doing its job well (see below). 

The auto-focus good and bad: First the good. It has autofocus! No more inserting some stupid jig or wrenching down a knob. It has a camera on the business end of the laser and before each cut, it focuses to the top of the material. The bad, you have to make sure this is clean before every cut otherwise it won't focus and you could potentially start a fire. So after cutting a full sheet of material you have to wipe the clear window that covers the camera. Sometimes I have to clean it and then restart the machine just so I know it is working. I guess depending on what material you are cutting you may have to clean it after every cut. Which takes a little time. Again, depending on what you are cutting you may have to clean the lenses....a lot.  I am cutting 1/8 mdf and I have to clean it after every run. 

The pre-set library: 

First the good. There is a preset library. This basically allowed me to jump the shark and just get straight to cutting/engraving. No wasting material to make sure it works. Glowforge puts QR code stickers on their "proof-grade" material. When read by the lid camera it automatically sets the power and cut speed. The bad: if you are not using their material you have to kind of trick it into thinking you are using their material. I ended up buying material from a third party, taking a photo of their QR code, printing it up and throwing it in the machine before cutting. You can create your own setting library and not bother with the QR copying thing. I basically felt super sneaky/smart and then felt kind of dumb. I would also recommend buying application tape to put on said material to protect it when cutting (I happen to have a roll from my vinyl cutter... it is the same stuff)

I bought the machine to cut the inserts for the packaging for the my CAD jewelry flashcards. I never expected them to be so popular and so far the glowforge has been keeping up the demand.  I make about 100 sets every weekend and they sell about as fast as I can make them. 

UPDATE:  I have ditched the filter unit and switched to a outside vent situation (I actually bought an air assist fan not seen in the photos)  But I did model and print a hose flange for the corrugated style hose coming off the back of the machine. 

Over all I am very please but still need to do more with it! I know I have not posted here in a while and do not really intend to.  I just thought this was a warranted review.  More to come...