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Glowforge launches consumer-grade laser cutter (glowforge.com)
493 points by mlmilleratmit 728 days ago | hide | past | web | 205 comments | favorite



This looks like a decent laser but I thought I'd post a few thoughts about this package which might give a potential buyer pause.

First, the main unique feature I see is the built in camera which apparently gives you a preview of cut/engraved finished part on your computer screen with the material as it's positioned inside the machine. This also (apparently, it's not clear), allows you to correct for misaligned material inside the machine. These are nice features, but it's perfectly possible to cut and engrave without them.

One big problem with operating this inside your home is the fumes. Now, they do mention that the base unit needs to be vented to the outside. What this means is that your neighbors (and you, if the wind is right) will have to smell the exhaust from this machine. It's not a nice smell if you're cutting acrylic. Though I personally got used to the scent of vaporized acrylic over time, your neighbors might not be so inclined.

So they also offer a $500 add-on ($1000 regular price) to filter the air so you can exhaust inside. The add on is smaller than the already small laser cutter. This is quite a feat and I would really like to know how they got it to work. You see, the fumes/smoke from a laser cutter can really clog up a particulate filter pretty quickly. Wood produces wood smoke, and acrylic vapor is quite sticky when it settles. So you have to have a powerful pump to draw the fumes through the filter. Then you need a good amount of activated charcoal to get rid of the smelly stuff.

If you look at the professional model air filters, they're $2000+ and you have to buy filters and media regularly.

Laser cutters get messy inside, so if you buy one, be prepared to clean it out regularly to keep the optical and mechanical components clean.

Problems with operation can START A FIRE, so be prepared to watch the machine 100% of the time while it's cutting.


(founder/CEO here) I vented a 60W chinese laser out my window for a year in the suburbs, but I've learned never to underestimate what neighbors may complain complain about. The air filter is definitely a good idea. If you do the math on the volume, and compare it to the actual volume of the filter of e.g. a Purex, you'll find it's similar. Almost half of the volume of the Purex is in the fans or open airspace; we have the advantage of a ton of airflow from the Glowforge itself, so the filter needs proportionately less. We also have a sealed (basic) or almost-sealed (pro) case so it's easier to build up negative pressure and move the exhaust through.

Cleaning stinks, and wrecks alignment - the tube and turning mirrors are completely sealed, including the tube output, so there's just one flat window to wipe clean (and it unscrews for easy replacement). The head has a window and purge air to keep it clean too.

We're mitigating a lot of the risk of fire by avoiding trouble situations in software (e.g. not cutting a piece of material where the dimensions make it an effective wick, detecting obstacles on the bed, accelerators to detect problems quickly) but you're right that you don't want to run it unattended.


Is it true the machine requires connection to internet or your cloud to cut or engrave? I was about to order a Pro until I read this in the comments. I expect to be able to use this machine with my laptop running some program and "send to laser", no internet connection required.


Cofounder/CEO here, just finished with Makercon and catching up.

The Glowforge does require a cloud connection to operate. We use cloud vs. local a host of reasons including the motion planner, alignment, image recognition, and faster feature development.

But based on the excellent point made here that nobody wants a paperweight if we fall off the globe, we decided to make a change. We're going to do a GPL release of the firmware so people can do whatever they want, including porting offline functionality. You buy it, it's yours, you should get to do what you want with it.

http://glowforge.com/gpl-licensed-open-source-firmware-for-g...

Thanks for the great feedback.


So, further questions:

1. When you mention planner, etc, does this imply the cloud service is involved not just in a prep phase, but actively during the control loop while the device is cutting? The latter would be worrisome to me.

2. Will you be able to elaborate at all on the functionality of the firmware (and/or provide protocol documentation for it) prior to ship? I'm not sure how comfortable I am pre-ordering without understanding just how much work there is between the device as delivered and an actual, functional, standalone cutter.

I see on the blog that modifying the firmware invalidates warranty coverage. This seems like another argument for protocol docs and/or ability to usefully have at least one cut path that does not tie you to an online service or nuke your warranty.


Based on his response[1] to a question here 220 days ago, sounds like it does require an internet connection...

1 - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9055330


"Is it true the machine requires connection to internet or your cloud to cut or engrave?"

I would also like very much to know the answer to this question.


Why hell would it need this? I would really like to know as well. Was seriously about to place an order for a Pro but this leaves me wondering...


Just speculating here, but it could be similar to how Google such do voice controls. Meaning that there is some processing that needs to take place that is offloaded to some server cluster somewhere, rather than attempting to do it locally.


This is the impression I got from watching a video linked elsewhere in these comments.


It is odd to require an Internet connection. The Epilog models at my disposal do not.


So is there a built-in exhaust fan?


Yes. Actually both intake and exhaust fans. Both of those are under software control, so they only run at the speed required for the job. Then the $500 air filter option has its own internal fans to assist with air, also under software control.

If you use the filter, there's nothing else hanging off the back of the device except a power cord. (My old laser had a squirrel cage fan, an aquarium pump, and a chiller tethered to it at all times!)


Whats the ducting capability on exhaust?

Munching on wood with an Epilog laser will produce copious volumes of smoke, and the air assist and 400CFM blower are not trivial pieces of equipment to embed in a unit to properly quell any fires and actually extract all the air needed.


My air assist is small enough that I could see a similar machine engineered to fit into the bottom part of this product. As for exhaust, you can get surprisingly good air flow with certain low CFM setups - my local makerspace uses a computer fan that does something with pressure that I don't understand. I don't think the goal of the exhaust is to quell a fire but to move smoke away from the beam and outside.


Curious: why not mitigate fire danger by measuring temperature in beam vicinity using thermal camera?


Wouldn't that be too slow? By the time you see the temp spike on the cam you may have already started the fire


Have some cartridge of CO2 inside that is getting released in such scenario? There's not much volume inside so it should do the job. IANAF, just wondering.


For a while I've been wondering if you could flood the chamber of a laser cutter with CO_2 routinely, not just to prevent fires but to prevent the scorching that laser cutting leaves on wood. If that would consume too much CO_2, would it be workable to instead spray it topically onto the point of the cut, a bit like the inert shielding gases that some forms of arc welding use?


Air assist is a classic thing on many decent laser cutters, especially for the reasons mentioned. On our lasersaur for example, a builtin air nozzle blow compressed air at the place where the laser beam hits the material being cut...


Glowforge does have both air assist and purge air FYI.


On reflection this probably can't work, as apparently wood melts only at stupidly high temperatures. Though maybe a lower temperature to embrittle the carbon would be enough?


As always, HN never fails to make sure the top comment is negative in some way.

Dan, I think this is a phenomenal product. I didn't know much about laser cutters and their potential, and you did a great job making this accessible. I wish you luck and hope to see your company grow.


I think this is part of the reason I actually very much appreciate the comments section on HN. Not for negativity, but because often the top comment is a good summation of the caveats to whatever's behind a given link. People selling products are not wont to tell me why their product might not be as great as it seems, unless required to by law. Even then, only in tiny print.

I'm certainly not an expert in many areas (Lasers for one), including many of the areas that these products pop up in, so when something seems too good to be true (or if I happen to have said expertise) the first thing I do is hop over to comments to see what the rest of the community has to say.

I always try to take both links and comments with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism and try to come to my own conclusions. That's not easy to do if I only get one side of the story and I don't happen to have years of experience in the relevant fields.


True, you make good points. I just think in this case, the product warrants some kudos as the top comment. This is probably in the top 1% tier of quality startups.


The community here is under no obligation to cheer-lead.


+1 * sizeof(ulong)


I'd consider the original comment a positive contribution. Just because it can be seen as having a negative tone, this one of caution, it is backed up with a heft of substance explaining the thought process behind it. It also resulted in another informative response from the founder. That's a good thing we should encourage.

A negative comment is one that doesn't contribute anything. A negative generalization about a community that doesn't provide an explanation could be seen as an example of a negative comment.


Negative comments are appropriate in this case. This looked so amazing, but the comments here point out the very important fact that this requires access to the internet to function, something that the co-founder so far hasn't addressed in the comments despite numerous requests for an answer.


The founder addresses this in a video review done by Tested.

https://youtu.be/0R3mMUsHFvU?t=13m48s

Also, I don't disagree with your comment, I just hate that the top comment always seems to put a damper on every truly promising launch or product - with Dropbox's launch being a famous example.


Tempering the excitement with some of the drawbacks is usually good.


I didn't want to be negative or put this product down. I just wanted to be sure the people who are looking at this to know what they are getting into. The points I made about this machine could apply to ANY laser cutter.

As a class of machine, they're just not as easy to use as, say, an inkjet printer. As I said, the camera feature looks nice, and according to danshapiro, they've done a lot to help with the maintenance issues by enclosing the optics.


I personally think its a pretty cool product. However, their insistence on having everything routed through the cloud doesn't seem appealing to me. If they close down or even if Google has some sort of service interruption, this thing becomes nothing more than a paper weight.

After watching their video on tested, I think you are spot on with the concerns. It looks like the laser printers does generate some nasty fumes [1] and there is the section where you actually see the wood catching on fire [2]. Not sure if plastic should have been the choice for the enclosure.

Regardless, cool product but could have been better.

[1] https://youtu.be/0R3mMUsHFvU?t=16m5s

[2] https://youtu.be/0R3mMUsHFvU?t=13m15s


Yep, was about to shell out for a Pro, but now I'm going to wait for #1 version 2.0 for them to work out all the kinks and #2 this cloud connection business. I refuse to buy any equipment that doesn't work if it's disconnected.


Problems with operation can START A FIRE

I suppose one way to solve this problem is to make sure that as much of the machine as possible in the cutting area is made of non-flammable material. Even if a fire starts it won't spread. Not possible with this one though, as the housing seems to be made of plastic.


Every issue you mentioned apart from the terrible fumes are problems that already exist in one's home with cooking in your own home, and people, seeing the convenience of cooking in their homes, have adapted to it. Regarding fumes actually, the smell from my neighbor's cooking isn't always to my liking either, but, perhaps, burnt plastic might be worse and equally undesirable to all people.


I think one thing that was not clear are the fumes are extremely toxic. Rarely do you cook where the fumes could make you go unconscious or cause long term health effects. If you dont believe me, check out: [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1475175/]


I guess that makes sense. I thought of the smell as nauseous but being dangerously unhealthy (than breathing the same concentration smoke from a fire, I'm assuming is the comparison) makes it involve different levels of health issues. I'd suppose they'd have to make the buyers sign waivers, huh, otherwise they have a number of civil class-action suits waiting--from which they lose anyway since a waiver would make the cutter much less attractive.


Actualy laser cutter tend to start a fire pretty often.


Yes. And depending on the material, the fire may spread very rapidly.


It's not just cloud connected, it's cloud dependent. It requires internet access and their cloud services to function at all. That's kind of disappointing.


It's not just disappointing, it's stupefying. Why would my drill (or my compressor or my band saw) need to be on the Internet in order to function ?

Also, there's a lot of overlap between people who have the extra space/building/shop to properly run equipment like this and people that have spotty rural Internet.


It probably has to do with how people/VCs don't see selling hardware alone as a super profitable model on it's own, and want a cloud dependence to sell you more stuff or to sell your data.


The things that they show (running a web site with lots of UX, slicing, image processing, materials data, catalog of customizable designs, etc.) fit pretty well into a powerful web site/service with a small CPU in the laser cutter. Adding a powerful CPU, etc, would add to cost and complexity - it is much easier to run a web site than to support thousands,of users' local installs, etc. Though i agree that makes the device dependent on their service, that's becoming a pretty common tradeoff these days.


Probably has to do with how it analyzes the object it's cutting on, and determines what's suitable from there.


That's why I like to read comments before clicking. Thanks for saving my bandwidth. What a shame.


What a shame... I am in the market for a home laser to replace the Epilog I use (at a makerspace), and this looks amazing. I won't be buying it if it's cloud-only, though. :(


Relik, depending on your needs, you may also want to build one yourself. We built ourselves a lasersaur.


And if they go out of business, you have an expensive brick?


Yeah, recently purchased an ePaper dev module(electric imp). The specs looked cool and I wanted to get my hands on this technology for while. Well, surprise surprise the module can only be programmed via a web-based (cloud) IDE that connects to the device ... no other way around it. So basically if the servers are down, so is your device (in the case of ePaper at least). Not for me.


Do you have any details about this? I can't seem to find that on their site.

But yeah, if that's true it's a real buzzkill.


They say so here at 13:40

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=292&v=0R3mMUsHFvU

I said so in a comment half an hour ago, but it immediately got downvoted to oblivion. Meanwhile the comment seems to slowly recover.

Nowhere on their website they say so. I would be really pissed if I bought a printer for thousands of dollars, unpack it and then realize I cannot use it. Letting it use my internet connection and being dependant on the services of a company to use it would not be an option for me.


Yep, that's where I heard it. I doubt many people listened that far into the video which is why I came back and posted it.


He has just made a commitment to release the firmware as GPL[0] when the device launches. It is user flashable.

[0] http://glowforge.com/gpl-licensed-open-source-firmware-for-g...


Due to the excellent suggestions here, in large part. Thanks for the feedback, both positive and critical.


I like this guy. Can we get him to make other things?


This is completely ridiculous. What possible justification could they have for this?


Maybe like DRM?


Ah. Nevermind, moving right along....


I have a 40W hobbyist laser cutter. It's fun, and a great tool for various projects, like making board games[1,2]. That said, sometimes materials inside the machine catch fire, and sometimes the beam reflects or dwells on a section of the metal enclosure. It's interesting that they've chosen to make the entire (?) enclosure out of plastic, itself a combustible material. I get why they went with plastic (cheaper to fabricate once you have the molds, lighter to ship, perhaps better dimensional accuracy than cheap sheet metal), but it does not seem particularly safe. The also seem to gloss over the need to ventilate the machine. Plastic fumes are nasty to breathe, glue-bonded wood (think thin plywood) can release formaldehyde fumes, leather may be dyed with heavy metals. What the laser doesn't cause to combust cleanly, it vaporizes. You don't want those emissions in your house of office, and you want them vented away from the optical components as quickly as possible so there is no deposition onto mirror or lens surfaces.

Another benefit of metal enclosures is shielding the power supplies of these things. High-voltage laser power supplies are noisy, and when you PWM them, they can cause quite a bit of interference. Metal enclosures at least help to attenuate RF emissions.

The "macro camera" is a clever addition for closed-loop optical control (if it is being used for that). Reminds me of attaching an optical mouse sensor the the lens sled.

1. https://igcdn-photos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/t51.28...

2. Make your own Carcassonne tiles! http://dev.tia.io/carcassonne_shading/


What unit do you have? I've been thinking about getting one.


I have an older one from Full Spectrum[1], from when they were adding their own control PCBs to generic units imported from China. The newer ones they have look nicer. There are a few other options on the market now, so it's probably worth shopping around. Larger cutting areas are nice, if for no other reason than that they limit the number of cuts you have to make on raw materials to get them to fit into the machine.

I made my own recirculating laser tube cooler using desktop PC water cooling components[2].

Beyond board games, they're useful for making tools for other projects. Need a drill guide with precise spacing? No problem, cut one out on the laser cutter. Need to prototype a coarse-pitch circuit board but don't want to wait for OSHPark or pay for a quick-turn fab? Ablate black paint off a Cu-clad board and chemical etch. Want to de-cap IC packages? You can, with some care. Interested in prototyping microfluidic structures? Sandwich some cut sheets of double-sided tape between acrylic sheet. Need to make a quick enclosure for a project? Design a box [3,4]. Cut the sides out of acrylic, and bond with dichloromethane (with ventilation!). It's great for making fixture components for things like robotics since you an easily include holes for machine screws.

They're also fun for cutting leather, cloth, etching aluminum laptops, making gifts, etc.

If you don't have access to nice commercial CAD software, DraftSight is a free AutoCAD clone that works fine for 2D drawings[5]. Otherwise, Inkscape works well for 2D, and for 3D, Rhino[6] has an affordable educational license that permits commercial use.

1. https://fslaser.com/Products/Lasers

2. https://github.com/tomkinsc/Laser-Cooler

3. http://boxmaker.connectionlab.org/

4. http://www.makercase.com/

5. http://www.3ds.com/products-services/draftsight-cad-software...

6. https://www.rhino3d.com/


I have their 5th-generation machine (now just called their "H-series" machine) with the 45 watt upgrade, and am pretty happy with it so far. Their software has a few quirks, but nothing I can't work around.


Great, thanks!


I've got a Full Spectrum Hobby 5th gen (20"x12" bed). I'm very happy with it, but the build quality is not as good something you'd get from Epilog. Of course, it's a significant fraction of the price, so it's worth it for me.


Wow - Great way of generating Carcassone tiles. Thanks for posting. (Runs off to hackspace with files in hand)


Thanks! JavaScript manipulates the SVG files. That's one file type usable by the laser cutting machine. Due to how the machine operates, it's a mixture of vector cutting lines for the fine lines and tile edges, and bitmap images for the raster fill and shading. The vector lines are easy to change in color by adjusting DOM attributes, while for the fill images I change the colors on a pixel-by-pixel basis before spitting out the finished SVG files in a client side-made zip file.

This was helpful because beyond the laser power settings, it took some fiddling to get the right shades of gray for cutting depths that worked with the multilayer plywood I was using (some layers are darker than others; had to make it look good). The files can also of course be colored for printing.

The different regions are segmented by their colors in the original files, which were created via Inkscape with outline vector lines over bitmap fill images. The lines were drawn by hand by my girlfriend and I using Inkscape, based on a purchased copy of Carcassonne we have. The images were made by rendering the outline SVGs to PNGs, filling in regions using GIMP, then reimporting them into Inkscape, and overlaying the vector outlines.

For meeple, she laboriously cut them out by hand from Sculpey clay. A cookie cutter would have been ideal but it took her less time to cut the figures than for me to bend copper flashing into the shape of a person or to devise a way to extrude the figures.

Also, in case that URL goes down, here is a link to the tile generator on GitHub pages:

https://tomkinsc.github.io/carcassonne-shading/


Very cool, I´ve seen other sell them:- https://msraynsford.myshopify.com/products/carcassonne-tile-...

Cool use of javascript.


In the video, at about 13:40 they reveal that to print you have to use the web interface which runs "On Googles Cloud".

I would not like the interface to my own printer to be "In the Google cloud". Does that mean when the company goes out of business, the printer is bricked?

And right after, they admit that they plan adding paid services. Oh oh. How will thesed paid services be announced? I can imagine how. Whenever I want to print, this thing will bug me to pay for some fancy addon.

And privacy? Goes right out of the window. Everything I print would go through all kinds of hands. The manufacturer of this printer, Google, my carrier and who knows who.

And what about security? This is probably a full blown computer they want me to give access to my lan and internet connection. Who guarantees it gets security updates?


Open source to the rescue:

https://github.com/kallaballa/ctrl-cut


Ctrl-cut is great. I love that it uses SVG plus some additional XML DTD attributes as its file format.

Time for some reverse engineering if you can only cut via Glowforge's servers...


Yeah, the folks behind ctrl-cut are pretty darn clever. I'm sure they'll get it running for Glowforge as soon as they get one in their hands. ;)


As someone who runs an Epilog laser and had never come across this — Thank You!

x


You're welcome - and don't forget to send patches! :)


Good question, I _think_ the ideas is the exact opposite -- you're not depending on Glowforge UI to be backed by a startups servers, the software runs on google cloud instead. Pros and cons, obviously, but I think the main pro is (like a Tesla) the machine's performance and usability can be improved without you installing any new software. As far as dependencies go, google's probably the best possible choice.


> you're not depending on Glowforge UI to be backed by a startups servers, the software runs on google cloud instead.

What? Who is going to pay that bill? For example, Glowforge goes out of business... Google isn't going to continue to host and maintain that software out of the kindness of their hearts.

> but I think the main pro is (like a Tesla) the machine's performance and usability can be improved without you installing any new software.

What does the UI being web-based, and "in the cloud" have to do with it's firmware?

For example, if the UI wasn't hosted on some google server, instead existed within the device accessible via WiFi (like a router) nothing you've said here would be any different... other than the user being able to decide themselves if they _want_ their device updated.


Not defend something needlessly cloud based, but this:

>but I think the main pro is (like a Tesla) the machine's performance and usability can be improved without you installing any new software.

is likely referring to them updating their cloud infrastructure, not the machine. By centralizing the processing and whatever else, they can ignore some local machine updating.

Its not worth the massive drawbacks, but its likely the truth wrapped in that marketing speak.


A bit off-topic, but you gave me an idea: What if Google did guarantee to host stuff forever when startups go out of business? It would eliminate customers' reservations in cases like this, and hence eliminate business reservations about going all-in on cloud services. The increased business could potentially more than cover Google's cost.

The trick would be the care and feeding of the software. But as the industry moves to more immutable infrastructure -- especially stuff like AWS lambda and JAWS -- this will become less of an issue.


>It would eliminate customers' reservations in cases like this

No it wouldn't. I still don't want to depend on a remote service to use an alliance this expensive. Internet connections can be unreliable.


I'd gladly take the "con" of installing new software over having a useless brick if the startup tanks.


Do you know if they provide direct hardware hooks, too?

I've not met a precision cutting or metrology tool where we didn't need to get low-level access to the hardware to get simple things done....


Good question for somebody on the GF team. My last company was Cloudant so my biases are pretty obvious.


Hey guys! :)


Huh? Someone has to manage and pay for the software running on "Google's cloud".


That part is, in my experience, vanishingly cheap if you're not doing high rate DB transactions. The whole thing could clearly be moved to other managed hosting providers or private servers, and I'm sure ultimately you can run a somewhat constrained version on the device itself. That said, launching in the cloud seems like the right choice temporally (time-to-market) and economically. Focusing (sorry) on building the actual device seems like a reasonable choice to me.


...and if the company goes under and doesn't responsibly transfer ownership?


Dan's story about making a wallet with the laser is amusing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=292&v=0R3mMUsHFvU

"No, I have a laser!"


That's pretty great; honestly, if it weren't for the cloud-connectedness, I'd consider buying it based on the strength of that story alone.

(I do wonder what the costs of leather and fake leather are, and what the market for fancy laser-etched wallets is...)


I feel like that's almost the answer to anything.


Only true if you have a laser and don't fully understand what's possible with a hammer.


Why would a making a wallet require "half a cow" ?

Is making a leather wallet as nearly-impossible as he claims? http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-leather-wallet...

The video feels like infomercial schtick.


Luckily, he knew to use natural leather. Synthetic "leather" is known to produce extremely poisonous cholrine gasses when being cut...


I was very interested until I saw this blog post:

http://glowforge.com/our-new-advisor-jennifer-lawton/

If you have been following the whole Makerbot Industries (and then Stratasys) debacle, seeing the name of Jennifer Lawton might give you pause.

I think I'm going to sit this one out.


> If you have been following the whole Makerbot Industries (and then Stratasys) debacle, seeing the name of Jennifer Lawton might give you pause.

For those of us who haven't been, can you give a TL;DR version of why this is significant?


The TL;DR is that she was part of creating a toxic environment within the company, shipped a product they knew was defective (Makerbot fifth generation), misled the shareholders (of Stratasys) and ultimately cost Stratasys hundreds of millions.

For the slightly longer version the class action lawsuit conatins a lot more detail: http://www.adafruit.com/pdfs/makerbot/classaction.pdf

You can also check out Glassdoor reviews: http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Makerbot-Reviews-E480203.ht...

I can confirm that the Makerbot 5gen is a defective product. We have one at the office gathering dust after trying to make it work for a few months. It is beyond hope.


... shipped a product they knew was defective (Makerbot fifth generation) ...

Yikes. Clogged extruders and many software problems:

http://nicklievendag.com/makerbot-replicator-5th-generation-...


Thanks for the heads-up about this.


Is there some strategy for customers once the cloud servers shut down? The company doesn't have to go out of business - perhaps five years have passed and you've moved on to more awesome models. While your business might feel that customers should upgrade to the newest, it's not great that they would be forced to.

For instance, when Steam was first released Valve promised that should the authentication servers go down, they would ensure that the games would stay functional without them. This was an important point that contributed to its success.


Open sourcing local backup server software would be a cool move.


So in a followup, Glowforge offered to release the firmware of this 3d printer as GPL. That is a ballsy and incredibly great move. It also helps negate the issues of their cloud service going away, I have an expensive paperweight issue.

See: http://glowforge.com/gpl-licensed-open-source-firmware-for-g...


The thing is that their firmware is ultra-lightweight. One of the things they're proud of is that the firmware is extremely thin and basically shunts control signals directly from the cloud service. The cloud service does everything.

The expensive paperweight issue still stands.


I am not sure that this would be the case. If all the firmware has to do is process G code, that's oh well understood problem, and runs on Arduino's, and whatever is grilling this printer has to be at least as powerful as we oh well understood problem, and runs on Arduino's, and whatever is grilling this printer has to be at least as powerful as Arduino, and he clearly has four more storage since it can buffer print streams coming across the Internet which is a lot harder then coming in local connection. The only limitation I see is that the device does not have a USB port, which means that even if you're printing off-line you're going through Wi-Fi. If the company went under, I'm wondering if the answer wouldn't be to reverse engineer enough of the server-side to print, and run a copy of that locally, without having to change the printer's firmware.


I am surprised it can cut paper without causing ignition.

I wonder how many of the projects shown were created using the "basic" ($2K) version and how many were produced using the pro ($4K) version?

I will say their early bird prices make these compelling for small business/etsy setups. However once they go to full price, I don't know if that will remain as true. It would take a LOT of wallets to break even at a $4K buy-in for the "basic" version.

PS - We live in an exciting world. Between 3D printers and these, you really can do more at home than ever before. And this type of technology is bringing tooling prices down massively even if you have it fabricated.

PPS - Looking at the material costs on their page, and looking at how much these items sell for on etsy right now ($39 inc. free postage), you'd have to sell over one hundred hardback skins for a Macbook Pro just to break even (and that's ignoring many of the hidden costs of running a business, like accountant, licensing, your salary, etc).


A 100 unit break even point is incredible low. Have you read many of the write ups on product based Kickstarter campaigns. From what I have read most break even point are into the 1,000 plus units if you have to account for fabricating molds or dies. Then these mold and dies can only be used fro one project. That is the beauty of 3D printing, laser etc. You have one tool that can be used to fab hundreds of designs or product with no tooling costs.


(cofounder/ceo here) I don't remember which sample items we made on which model, but everything you see is printable on the basic model. For example, the monitor stand and dollhouse don't have pieces larger than 12x20.


> I am surprised it can cut paper without causing ignition.

As a kid, I had a lot of difficulty trying to ignite paper with lenses under the sun (white notebook paper). I then gave up and used the lenses for cutting instead. So I'm not that surprised.

To this day I wonder what would be the correct set of conditions that would make it easier to combust. I remember trying black paint - that only made the cutting part easier.


I had really no problem using a magnifying glass to burn printer paper as a kid, as long as it was the summer, trying to do that in the winter was for some reason impossible.


I have a laser cutter and I was surprised as well that it doesn't generally catch things on fire. It cuts through cardboard like it's not even there. It's only harder materials like wood that you get any noticeable flame at all, and that problem largely goes away if you use an air compressor (which also serves to blow smoke out of the way of the beam).

That said, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on the machine while it's running.


It's a very polished product, and the "pen" mode is a cool idea. To me, they're targeting an odd demographic, Makers who can afford expensive toys / tools, but also want a very friendly, hands-off interface. I would have expected the Maker camp to be ordering ~ $700 40-50W laser cutters from Shenzhen. I suppose the Glowforge would be pretty great in a school setting, though.


CEO/Founder of Glowforge here. There are a bunch of lasers billed as 40W on ebay and amazon, but please look really carefully before you buy one. The mostly-harmless part is the lousy interface, overrated tube, and inability to cut (the motion controller only supports raster mode). The worrisome parts are the ungrounded case, high voltage wires that are usually but not always firmly attached, and lack of an interlock or other safety precautions.

If you're excited about making a laser work, they're a worthwhile project. If you want to use a laser to make things, you probably want something that is closer to working out of the box. (Speaking as someone who shipped 770 lbs of laser from China, then spent way too long getting it to work... sometimes.)


> the lousy interface

Which, on one such cutter I used, involved having to pre-process DXF files through Corel Draw (!!) in order to get the cutter software to read them at all. In my case, that meant a workflow of:

  CAD software
  -- export-to-DXF
  pre-process in Illustrator
  -- laser kerf allowance
  -- layout parts on material
  pre-process in Corel Draw
  -- load and reexport the DXF, just 'cause
  load in cutter software
  -- mark up paths for cutter parameters 
     (speed, power, cut/raster mode)
For comparison, Ponoko cuts out the last two pieces of software. AI or Inkscape can be used for all required workflow steps. The (necessary) tradeoff is that you have less control: only "cut" or "engrave" to parameters pre-determined for the requested materials.


You're right! Removing workflow steps is key to allow anyone to access to laser cutting, but there is no inexpensive and intuitive dedicated cad-cam software out there to do this job. That's why we developped a cloud-based easy-to-use editor with a bunch of features and much more if you want to share and sell your designs. BTW we already use a Speedy Trotec 300 but this machine could fit on our desktop.


Could you elaborate on how you do laser kerf allowance in Illustrator?


First, determine the kerf of your cutter. For service bureaus like Ponoko, they may be able to tell you the kerf for the cutter and material you'll be using. Otherwise do some test cuts, e.g. a set of 1cm squares, and measure the average kerf using a good digital caliper.

From there in reasonably recent versions of Illustrator, select your path, then use Object > Path > Offset Path...

In the Offset Path dialog, enter your measured kerf value. E.g. I've been working with a 0.19mm kerf lately, so I would enter half that in the dialog (literally ".19mm/2") and confirm.

A few notes:

* Make sure your path is fully joined (select everything then Object > Path > Join) before using Offset Path. If you zoom in and see your path looks like a series of disjoint rectangles, it wasn't joined; start over.

* IMPORTANT!: Offset Path creates an additional path, instead of modifying the selected one. At this scale, this is impossible to see. You'll need to zoom waaay in to see the pair of paths, ungroup them, then select and delete the inner one. If you don't, you'll end-up double cutting the same path, which can be a good way to make fire. :-/ (Ponoko checks for and will usually flag these kind of errors.)

Cheers!


Can you talk a bit about the tube? Is it DC or RF excited? Who is making it?


It's a custom glass DC tube with some cool engineering to improve the mode quality to TEM00, which gives us tighter spot size / higher power density. Similar effect to cranking up the power, except you also get tighter kerf and you don't have to make the tube longer.


I'm a maker. Tell me more about this $700 Shenzhen laser cutter? I googled it and I'm coming up with a few things, but only very small $400 units and very big expensive units.


You can also get a membership to techshop.ws where they have cutters among MANY other items.

https://www.noisebridge.net/ hacker space on Mission in SF also had a fairly large 40W cutter... It was not setup for a while - but I think its working now... and you can use that one pretty much free (donate to the space though is a good idea)


Laser cutters are by far the most popular tools at tech shop. Reservations typically fill up 2-3 weeks in advance. Having a hobby machine at home for smaller or recurring jobs could save a lot of time.


Pretty sure they are talking about the K40 "blue box" laser. I have heard they require some mods to get working properly but for the price some think they are worth it.


More info please :)


Just search 40w laser engraver on ebay and you should get several hits around $400. Mine is working great after some mods.

Mods: ~$25 for 8ft ground rod and wire ~ $35 for 24V DC power supply( includes 5 volt supply because I blow out the DC section of the board it come with) ~ $45 Raspberry Pi CNC Board + drivers ~ $35 Raspberry PI

I can scp dxf files to the raspberry then rdp or ssh -X to open bCNC. Open the file and click Run. bCNC just added laser support so the setup is trivial.

I'm not too sure on the cutting power though. I have done paper, leather and cardboard but the 1/8in plywood I have tried is too thick.

I also had to put a 3904 transistor and a resistor in the board to make the laser on signal be sinking.



How big is that one on Ebay? I don't see any specs.

Also - if you click on Shipping -- it says "free shipping" then it says "$300 shipping"

Which is it?


> Engraving Area: 12x8inches/300x200mm > Free shipping Standard Shipping (UPS Ground) > US $300.00 One-day Shipping (UPS Next Day Air®)

Come on man, it says right there.


Weird... I must be blind -- for whatever reason, I couldnt find it so simply. Hmm...

Thanks though


CamFive sells a variety of machines. You might try them.


@danshapiro - Thanks for giving a fantastic resolution to the issue of the cloud software. I think that was a big hang up for many of us.

Can you expand on the benefits of the Pro model? The usefulness of the included air filter and pass through slots have been explained on your site, but the laser and cooling upgrade aren't really ever discussed.

5W more power doesn't seem like very much of an upgrade (12.5% more power for 60% more cost). What does the Pro model's upgraded laser and cooling specs mean in terms of "usefulness": cuttable material thickness, cutting times, duty cycle, etc?

Also, what's the expected life span of the charcoal filters, HEPA filters, laser tube, and any other consumables? Are replacements for these available only through Glowforge, or are they industry standard / Over The Counter parts?


Laser cutters generate smoke (with possibly toxic particles). They have air extraction attached to them for that reason. No air extraction on this model?


I came to say the same thing.

My lab uses an industrial laser cutter a lot, and perspex fumes stink. We have a large extraction unit to capture the fumes.

Filters only capture a limited range of compounds too. Important to always check whether the filter can handle the material before cutting.


Take a look at the specs -- you can either vent them out a window or buy the air filter (which I'm guessing is a fancy charcoal scrubber, don't know for sure).


I had missed point 12 (air filter upgrade), and non of the pictures showed an exhaust tube...


One of their sample images appears to be of the "Below the Boat" series.

http://www.belowtheboat.com/

I've given those maps as gifts, and they're very nice quality. Is there any relationship between your companies? Are they using your laser cutter?


(ceo/cofounder here) There are lots of folks doing bathymetric maps with lasers; I don't know who was first to it. We generated ours from scratch from NOAA data, but owe them (or whoever did it first) a debt of inspiration.


The problem with making something out of public domain maps using technology is that it's very easy for someone else to copy it pretty effortlessly.


It calls itself a 3D laser printer. It's a 2D laser cutter.


It doesn't just cut. It has variable focus of 13mm, allowing it to carve out any desired shape within that range.


Fine, cutter/engraver.


...yeah. I was just thinking the same thing.


Maybe the 3rd dimension is time.


I want... NO.... I NEED this! The price seems surprisingly reasonable for the amount of household items you could create that you "Forgot to get from the store."


(cofounder here)

Thank you! I was lucky enough to have an industrial laser in my garage for a few years and was amazed at what it could do, and how miserably hard it was to do it. Hopefully we'll let lots of folks experience the first and none the second.


I hope so! As a kid, this would have realized so many dreams! Going on my list of tools to get!


After watching that video I feel like they should do a promo with Etsy. Also can't help but think about Cory Doctorow's "Makers", sci-fi being slowly ushered into our lives :)


Someone please connect this with a Microsoft Kinect and build a robot turret on treads for eliminating pests such as mosquitos.



I'd be interested to hear the benefits over the successful Kickstarter[1] LazerBlade[2], which looks much simpler but is less than half the price at retail.

[1] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1537608281/lazerblade-t...

[2] https://darklylabs.com/emblaser-overview/


This is a pretty neat product. I especially like the continuous-feed idea.

I'd really like to do stuff that involves stainless. What would be the cheapest option capable of doing some reasonable sheet stainess? My wallet is cringing at the mere concept, but maybe I could talk a local hackerspace into doing it or something.

I've been meaning to build a CNC mini-mill for a while. I think that seems like a more practical option for stuff that doesn't require intricate cuts. And definitely more affordable.


For sheet stainless you're probably best paying someone to water-jet cut it. Laser cutters that can cut metal are way way way out of the price range of normal people. Also you can't really mill sheet metal.

If you want to do something cool and home-made you could probably hook up an electric nibbler to an X-Y stage.


A CO2 laser will not cut stainless - it won't even mark steel unless you coat it with a special ceramic.

You're looking at a very very large fiber / YAG laser to cut it. A low power YAG laser can engrave steel - commercially these start at about $30k


Technically, the statement "CO2 laser will not cut stainless steel" is not accurate. Stainless steel is commonly cut by 500W-5kW CO2 lasers, see:

https://www.coherent.com/Applications/index.cfm?fuseaction=f...

https://vimeo.com/106264555

But it's true that sub-100W CO2 lasers are not even remotely capable of cutting steel.


Looks like a great toy until you go through comments here. Honestly would have bought this for my woman, since she's into crafts and stuff, but cloud-only cutting/engraving, comments on fumes and filters + dealing with customs (if they even shipping int) quickly changed my mind. I've seen laser engravers on kickstarter before, hope to see more machines that do not require clouds to cut/etch a damn thing.


I really feel like if there are enough of these out there and the company somehow decides to brick all of them (not that likely IMHO) that someone will be able to come up with an open source solution for controlling it. I'd like to know what their privacy policy is but I'm not particularly worried about it becoming a multi-thousand dollar hunk of plastic.

I do wonder why the pre-order price is SO much cheaper than the actual price. At pre-order it's a still. At regular price it's kinda a bit meh.


They want to motivate interested buyers to pre-order. The "actual" price is FUD.


These aren't really for home use. They are for Maker spaces and workshops and schools.

Your partner should bring her design to a local workshop to cut, unless she wants to open the local workshop.


It's easy to say bring the design "to local workshop to cut", they are available in US/CA/Europe, but finding one asia or africa, or even smaller european city is hard if not impossible.


How is a 40W laser Class I, but the 45W laser is Class IV?


This one I actually know -- biohazards depend on more than just wattage -- spot size, wavelength, pulse characteristics, etc, all go into it. I think you really compare them based on the Poynting vector. Disclosure: I'm a GF backer and am a card carrying physicist who had this question on his qualifying exam in grad school. https://www.rli.com/resources/articles/classification.aspx


(ceo/cofounder here) You're right - it's the passthrough. CDRH is very strict about what could count as human access. We have some clever interlocks in place around the passthrough but if an examiner can place a mirror in the interior and measure laser output above the threshold without triggering the interlock, you're Class IV.


You can get Class I by preventing human access, I'm guessing the Pro can't have the same interlocks for some design reason.


I think the pro is 'feed-able', wonder if that's it.


Yeah, I just saw that on their youtube video; the sides can remain open during operation to allow etching/cutting of materials larger than the enclosure. That means human access is possible, so therefore the class IV.


@danshapiro Questions : 1) Why could you not have done this with a quad core i7 box running ubuntu? The amount of time it will take to ship information from my box to google cloud is longer than what can be done on my box. What exact monetization strategy made you keep software/data in the cloud? 2) Any ETA on when the machines will start shipping? Assuming you now know how many people ordered already.


With the leather satchel they show, isn't the difficult really in stitching it?


The laser cuts the holes perfectly-- so you do have to stitch it, but there's no skill involved-- just time. :-)


Disappointed in the pricing tactics, and doubt the "50% off" is anything but typical sales bull.

Back in Feb in an interview with Shapiro in the NYT it was stated "desktop laser cutter that it plans to sell for around $2,000". No mention of this being a special 50% off price.

And in May this year on geekdad.com, Shapiro "wants the price to be under $2,500".

Now it emerges that this is actually the "50% off" price for 23 days only, and the actual full price will be $4000 for the basic model?

It begs the question: what happened between May and now that the price of the basic unit has doubled? What happened to the planned "$2000 laser printer"???

Or is the "50% off" just a lie to generate more initial sales, and later we'll see "new fantastic discount slashed from $4000 down to an unbelievable $2000"?

I see a lot of this sales tactic in online tech products. Permanent discount prices, there's always a "deal" happening. The RRP is some mythical price that is never actually reached.


I can't count the number of times a fire has started in my university woodshop because of smoldering debris and general lack of safety knowledge with laser cutters. I would assume this is something to be aware of with the Glowforge but I don't see any safety information on your webpage. Is this something to still worry about with 40W and 45W lasers?


This is going to be epic for schools and print-shops. I think only hardcore enthusiasts will want a home-home version of this tech, but I've spent enough time with paper-cutters and cutting out letter shapes that this is really cool.

Also, the boardgame industry can prototype cards much better with this - printing out Catan-like hex-tiles and the like.


That's a nice unit, and adding a camera is a big step forward. More CNC machines should have cameras to aid in alignment. I'd really like to have a camera with high magnification on a CNC mill, rigidly mounted a known distance from the spindle, and cross-hairs on the monitor.


There's a (golang) gopher hidden in the promo video at second 42: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysCaqh38JVQ&t=42s


Thanks for the great discussion, I learned a ton of good info from this thread which cotributed to me deciding to take the plunge and preorder the basic Glowforce. I had hoped to go pro but between the poor US/CAD exchange rate and the rather high price of shipping to Canada I could just not budget for it. If anyone who is ordering wants to save us a $100 each, order through this referal link :) http://glowforge.com/referred/?kid=H5xzt6


$954 shipping cost to UK. Isn't it a bit high?

Also UK regulations says I need to be supervised to use a class 4 laser since I can point it to somewhere I shouldn't. I wonder if that's still valid for an enclosed product.


I ordered one, wish I could pick it up in person instead of paying the shipping. Particularly interested in seeing what one can do with just a pen and skipping the computer design stage...


So I've seen danshapiro reply to a lot of comments here, but not a single one asking about whether the cloud access is necessary for this to operate. Does anyone know the answer?


It looks like vaporware to me. What gives me pause is the sneaky way they present it as if it were a KickStarter project, but it's not. So all those people shelling out for the early release are not protected if they close up shop and disappear it seems to me. So many glowing promises, but will they be able to follow through on all of them? I dunno. I am skeptical. (I hope they do though, I seriously want this to be real).


I'd like to quote a german comedian here:

"Never look into the laser with your remaining eye"


Here is $100 off if you use this link to order: http://glowforge.com/referred/?kid=QNUjZz


Can this device cut metals and if so which ones and of what thickness?


A 40W CO2 laser will not cut metals, period.

Save yourself the wait and spend $395 on eBay to get a much more sturdy version shipped to your door. It's not perfect but at that price, imperfection is forgivable.


OK. We have a laser cutter at work that will cut very thin metal stock but I don't know what its power is or anything else about it.


Many techshops have a water jet cutter.


Awesome! I hope laser cutters (which IMHO is one of the most magical DIY tools there is) start getting the same sort of attention that 3D printers have been.


Could you use this for single sided PCB printing?


In theory this process should work (it still requires etching as you can't cut copper with this laser):

http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-PCB-Prototyping-using...


That seems like a lot more effort than traditional photoresist printing that you can do with an inkjet printer (or just freehand with a marker).


Whats the purpose of the big button the device? I would have thought starting a print from your computer would turn it on.


It's the "the cloud can't activate a 40W cutting laser in your home by itself" button.

At least that's how it's explained more-or-less in one of the videos. Makes sense to ensure that the operator is in front of the machine and has everything properly loaded before firing the laser. Who knows how much of that is really intended as a security process...


Wonder what they are prepared to do for their initial run?? Looks like there has been /quite/ a response so far!


Looks very nice, but I was a little disappointed that the sample gallery items did not have links to actual projects.


Fuck, I hate not living in the US when things like this appear.


You can always order a Chinese made laser cutter which has 80% of the features and 100% of the most important ones. If you go this route, get it from a dealer in your country with a good reputation so you can get service and support.


Worst part is that if I try to buy something like this in Brazil, it'll probably get apprehended by customs as a dangerous item.


If there are no importers/dealers in Brazil, this is a business opportunity to import machines from China.


It's Brazil...

This would be a nightmare to make happen, you would need to bribe so many people to get a shipment here that your profit would be unworthy and also make you a criminal or you can run it by the lawn and never get the items or pay 100% taxes over them + their shipping costs making a machine like this cost U$5000,00


I am Brazilian and I second this message.


An opportunity? Let's see.

There are lots of customs fees involved that are not considered taxes per-se. But let's ignore them and look at taxes:

You get a 60% import tax right off the bat (this applies over the product cost, the aforementioned fees AND shipping). Then, there's ICMS, which varies by state (let's say, 12%). There's also IPI, which is variable according to the product and I'm not sure where a laser cutter would fit in. Also PIS (1.65%), COFINS (7.6%) and IOF since it probably involves currency exchange (0.38%).

Speaking of that... there's the unfavorable exchange rate. Today, the real hit a high of BRL 4.23 for one USD. It was 2.50 something one year ago, and then the economy blew up.

I'm not going to the trouble of trying to calculate the final price, without the importer's markup, but it will be HIGH. Good luck marketing this thing to anything other than medium businesses. And that one year from now. You'll spend like an year incorporating your company and navigating the customs law mess.

There are other options, of course. Manufacturing locally would bypass a lot of taxes (and generate others). But then you could negotiate deals with local authorities in exchange for job creation and some strategic dinners. That sort of stuff. The opportunity cost of doing that is just huge and, by the time you managed all that, you'd be profitable in several other countries already.

Then you'll have to deal with the crappy transportation infrastructure. Forget shipping things by train, you'll have to use trucks. Delivery estimates of 30 business days are not uncommon at all.

My advice? Stay away from Brazil. Even more so this year. There's a reason investors are pulling money out of the country.

Disclaimer: I'm Brazilian.


> There's a reason investors are pulling money out of the country.

Fun fact, they mostly aren't anymore. (Go figure. I guess the country is so crazy that nobody knows what to do.) That isn't stopping the Real from falling anyway.


How about leasing it?


It looks really amazing, but until it gets shipped and reviewed, it is just a video. I don't doubt they have prototypes nor I doubt their ability to ship, but once you do, then it is a real product.


I spend a lot of time playing with a laser cutter (120w generic from China). A lot of the things that they talk about are quite cool, but I think that they do not show all the other parts that also require time and effort - although I do imagine that one of their value propositions is that they remove and/or simplify a lot of the processes and their complexities. One of the biggest issues I currently have is to generate a file that the laser cutter will like - it has to be a dxf with no sub layers or any linked files, or a old illustrator file (.ai version 8). Each "settings layer" has to have it's own distinct color, and sometimes if the colors are too close, they get merged into one. It can also be difficult to set the correct distance between the things that you want to engrave and the things that you want to cut - say you want to engrave a round logo on a round beer coaster: getting this perfect would take a lot of tweaking, as there are minor (yet visible) gaps and mis-alignments.

Next, to get the laser to cut properly also takes some tweaking. It's almost impossible to get a repeatable cut, since there are so many different factors that you need to take into play: the location of the item you're cutting on the bed, the temperature of the laser, the thickness and quality of your material, the accuracy of the auto-focus, and the settings themselves. If we look at the location for example, there is a huge difference between the top left corner - where the laser mirror is - and the bottom right corner. On one side your material will catch fire, on the other, it will only cut half way through. The material is also an important factor - if the material is even 0.2mm thicker on the top compared to the bottom (especially true for acrylic), then the laser will go through on one side, and won't go through on the other. For wood, tiny differences in it's quality can have a significant impact on the cut and especially on any engraving you do. With wood and similar, easily smudged materials, you also have this sort of 'caramelisation' after you cut and engrave - the degree of this effect depends on whether you used the right power or not (for which you also have to take into account the location, temperature, material quality,...). If you try to clean it off by hand or with a dry tissue, you will smudge it further and it will be difficult to remove. Instead, you have to painstakingly clean every piece you cut with an alcohol soaked cloth, which will remove most of these smudges - however it won't remove any burn marks. As per the burn marks, you get a lot more of them when you use a honeycomb bed compared to one which has a number of thin pieces of metal that stretch across with a few cm interval. The glowforge laser has this honeycomb bed, so expect your wood, cardboard and paper cutouts to have some of these burn marks if you don't pay very close attention to the power/speed of the cut. With plastic, getting a cleaner cut is a bit easier, but the fumes are horrendous. Also, if you don't cut through the whole thickness of the plastic the first time, and do another pass, the edges which you cut will have these 'micro-cracks' that dont' look very professional. Similarly, if you cut with too much power, your plastic edges will just melt and look quite bad. However, an advantage with plastic cutting is that you can clean it without too much difficulty, if you use sufficient alcohol you can get most burn marks away.

Engraving looks really nice when done with a laser cutting, but it does take some time until you figure out the correct settings for each material. I particularly love engraved plastic and wood, the result (especially from genuine, extruded plexiglass) is beautiful and vey professional. A local public figure has had a picture of him holding a laser-engraved logo that I made him as his profile picture. Personally, I made some laser cut business cards, and they have absolutely blown away a lot of people - one person even told me that he stuck it to his wall for inspiration. I've also worked on laser cut tags/tokens that I give out as a promotional gift to people, and then they can use it as a fidelity card when they order things through my startup. I'm still working on perfecting these tags, but they required a lot of testing (over 30 different attempts just to get the QR code to engrave in a readable way), and I still haven't been able to generate them through software (right now they have to be put into illustrator before exporting them to the laser cutter). Lastly, engraving paper will likely incredibly difficult. On their page they have a sheet of paper that they engraved - I want to know how many attempts it took them before they got it to work - especially since the paper gets very easily caramelised. Maybe they had to use a special coating or used yellow/blue painters tape?

Despite all of this, laser cutters are extremely cool. The one we have cost $4000, and people have done lots of amazing things with it. Nowadays, you can get a 40w laser from ebay or aliexpress for a few hundred dollars, but do expect to spend weeks figuring out how to use it. The Glowforge looks like a pretty cool idea, however I don't know if they'll be able to survive at this price point + with the technology being at the state it is today. Their software (minus the part where it's cloud based), looks really powerful and very useful.


Aaaaand we're done here.


Please don't post unsubstantive comments. That, combined with snark about new work, is something we try to avoid on HN. Of course, there's a legit point about cloud-connected products here too and you're welcome to comment about that substantively.

Edit: We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10273316 and marked it off-topic.

It's true that there are other unsubstantive comments in the thread, and many more elsewhere on HN, but we can't reply to them all. Our intention is absolutely not to pick on anyone personally, but to provide signals to the community about the level of discourse we're all going for here.


[flagged]


FYI: dang is an HN admin, so has additional tools besides the upvote and downvote arrows, up to and including nuking comments and banning users. A comment before it gets to that point is a courtesy, I think.


I've worked with Laser cutters and, unless they have fixed things, you really don't want to be cutting items--especially paper and cardboard--without industrial "shop" ventilation. And many times I've set my work on fire.


Still waiting for a lightsaber for taming my jungle of a yard. Is that so much to ask?




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