Introduction to Glowforge

Introduction to Glowforge main article image
Posted on July 17, 2021 by Isabella Ruiz

The Glowforge is a laser cutter, engraver and scorer. If you just bought a Glowforge or are thinking about buying a Glowforge there are hundreds of projects you can create! The Glowforge can cut over ten materials and engrave and score over eighteen materials. The possibilities of what you can create are quite endless!

Once you commit to purchasing your Glowforge and receive your new toy, figuring out how to navigate the Glowforge design space can be intimidating. I will show you the basics, including how to create designs, save settings, and how to use the special Glowforge features! The Glowforge can cut wood, fabric, leather, paper, acrylic, Delrin (acetal), mylar, rubber, Corian, foods, and more! Glowforge can also engrave all of the above plus glass, coated metal, marble, anodized aluminum, titanium, some phones, tablets, and laptops, and more! Glowforge also offers $500 off the Glowforge Pro and $250 off the Glowforge plus with special codes! You can find the code at the bottom of the article!

When you want to use your Glowforge or upload and create new designs, you will type in into the address bar, this will take you directly to your dashboard, here is where you will find any designs you have created, uploaded, or bought from the Glowforge file store. To start we will select the blue create button.

Three options will pop up; new blank design, upload from file, and capture from camera. If you have your own file that you want to use you will select the upload from file option, if you would like to create a design with the Glowforge features you will select new blank design. The capture from camera option is great if you have a design on a piece of paper that you would like to transfer to a piece of wood or other material. Today we will be selecting the new blank design option. After selecting this option the design space will be pulled up.

The first feature we will look at is in the middle bar, the selection arrow will allow you to select your designs and move them anywhere in the design space, you can also move your design by selecting it and using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

The next feature is pan, by selecting this feature you are able to drag and move around the design space. This feature is very handy if your design space is zoomed in and you would like to move around the design space without zooming out. If you have a Mac computer you can use your trackpad or apple mouse to pan at anytime up and down and left to right.

The next two features are the undo and redo buttons, if for any reason you accidentally resize your file or make a change that you do not like you can use the undo or redo buttons.

Next, we have the import artwork option, you can click this if you would like to search through Glowforges’ own graphics or upload your own file, you can also select the trace feature if you would like.

When searching through the graphics, Glowforge allows the user to favorite any graphics to go back to later, when I am searching for graphics I want to use I favorite a few that could be useful before I select one, after you select a graphic your search results will not pick up in the spot you left off.

Glowforge allows you to make shapes for engraving, scoring and cutting. This feature is one of the premium features and the user must pay a fee each month to use it. The feature has lines, squares, circles, stars, and polygons, you can also edit the amount of points and round the corners. I use the rectangle feature often when I am making puzzles.

Another feature I use almost every day is the text tool, this feature is another one of the premiums, in my opinion, the monthly fee is absolutely worth it!

In the type tool you will enter your text in the text bar, from there you can change the font, Glowforge text offers many differing fonts but in the case that you would like to cut out a name sign this feature would not work as Glowforge does not offer a unite button.

The next button is multiple options in one, all in all, I rarely use any of the features with the exception of occasionally refreshing my Glowforge bed image.

Now we will go over the engrave, cut, and score settings.

To select if you would like to engrave, cut or score, look to the left-hand side of your design space and you will see a small square that orders your designs steps. Click on this. Once you click on the step of your design it will open up a panel, here is where you will select the Glowforge proofgrade settings or manually input your own. If you save your settings they will save under custom.

In the photo above the order is engrave, cut and score. The first two are quarter-inch birch and the last is eighth-inch MDF board. Each materials settings will be different, and after trial and error you will find the perfect settings for each material you use!

Each step will be color-coded according to what the action will be. Blue is engraving, red is cut and purple is scoring. After you enter in your settings the next step is to set the material height.

To do this select the area that reads unknown. If you are using a Glowforge proofgrade material you can type in the search field or scroll through the options. If you are using your own material you will select use uncertified material.

Next type in the material thickness, if you buy material from home depot or another shop the material thickness they sell it as might not be the true thickness. In this case it is very important to enter in the correct thickness or your design may not cut all the way through. I strongly suggest you buy digital callipers, I use them almost every time I put a new material in my Glowforge.

Now we will start a new design and go through the steps from start to finish. We are going to design and cut out a flower. First select the import artwork button, next we will be searching for a flower design.

For this design, I am going to select the furthest flower to the right in the first row. Once you select the flower it will generate into your design space.

After the design generates into your design space you will need to select which settings you want to use, for the part of the flower I want to engrave, I will select the flower step on the far left, I am using the eight inch MDF board so I will select that.

Notice that after the flower turns blue once you select the engrave step the flower has turned blue. Now we want to create an outline so that the flower will be cut out, we could do a few things. We could either select the shapes feature and put a circle or square around it. What I like to do is select the create outline feature (circled in red), this feature allows a perfect cut around your design and wastes less material.

After selecting the create outline feature you will adjust the outline width, I generally enter in a tenth of an inch and it works perfectly.

The flower design now has an outline around it that will cut the design, after selecting the cutting settings the line will turn a solid red, indicating that the design is ready. I always rearrange my designs in one of these orders engrave, score then cut or score, engrave then cut.

After you select your engraving and cutting settings you will need to enter in your material thickness, mine is a quarter-inch thick.

If for any reason you would like to resize your design, there are two ways you can do this. First, you can select the entire design and drag the corners or you can use the ruler tool that brings up scale. If you uncheck the link then you can resize the design without maintaining the proper proportions, enter in the new dimensions you want into the Width and Height that you would like to resize your design to.

Now your design is ready to go! The last step will be to hit print in the top right corner.

When Glowforge finishes preparing your print you can now hit that magic glowing button! My Glowforge has been my favorite purchase in my entire life, the possibilities of creations are endless! If you haven’t already bought your Glowforge you can use their coupon code for $250-$500 off.

Happy Lasering!

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