Glowforge Pro 3D Laser Printer Review

Conclusion - Is the Glowforge Pro worth it?

Glowforge Pro 3D Laser Printer Review

Conclusion - Is a Glowforge worth it?

The Glowforge Pro is a product that is designed to democratize the world of laser cutting/engraving, allowing almost anyone to create new products and build custom items without an engineering degree or an apprenticeship.

Within half an hour of opening the box, you could be using a Glowforge to create something. Few machines of this type offer this level of ease-of-use, automatically calibrating itself to practically eliminate the need for users to interact with the Glowforge's underlying machinery.

Aside from the occasional cleaning, and, of course, adding or removing materials from the machine, Glowforge users barely need to interact with the machine. Just set up your design files using the Glowforge's web app and hit the Glowforge's magic glowing button when the time comes. The Glowforge handles everything else. 

It Just Works

If you have entered the world of 3D printers, you will know what "maker" devices like these can be responsible for a lot of tedium. Be it bed levelling, machine calibration, optimal settings, etc, etc. Some products have a steep learning curve, and can require a lot of effort to achieve great results. With the Glowforge, you just get great results. If you want a laser cutter/engraver that can give you a hassle-free life, the Glowforge is a great option. 

Did we need to manually focus the laser on our materials? No. Did we need to install complicated software? No. Did we need to dial in optimal settings for the materials we used? Not with Glowforge's Proofgrade materials. 

With the Glowforge Pro, your time will be spent designing custom items and engraving them. Your time won't be spent constantly recalibrating your machine, you will be spending your time making. If you have the right files, you can turn on and start cutting with your Glowforge within minutes. The Glowforge Pro is an incredibly usable machine, and that is a big deal.

One of the primary perks of the Glowforge Pro it its ease of use. Users can simply turn it on and start creating. The barrier of entry is low, and that gives users a great opportunity to start making. After that, skills will be developed as users progress to more complex projects.  

Glowforge Pro 3D Laser Printer Review

The Glowforge Makes us Make Things!

The Glowforge is easy to set up and easy to use, freeing up a lot of brain space for creativity. A laser cutter is a tool that can enable a lot of creative freedom, and the Glowforge has a large enough building area to handle most projects.

With the Glowforge Pro, the unit's Passthrough support enables even larger projects. That said, the versatility of this feature is limited by the size of your workspace (you need enough space to pass-through materials), and the scale of your projects. Not everyone needs such a large build area.

The capabilities of a Glowforge rely on your ability to create your own cut files. While files are available online for some items, and Glowforge offers their own paid, and free designs, Glowforge users shouldn't be spending £2,995+ on a Glowforge without intending to create their own products. If you can create SVG files, you can create almost anything using a Glowforge.

When showing the Glowforge to friends during the review process, almost all of them wanted to discuss how the machine could be used to make money. The explosion of websites like Etsy is proof enough that custom and crafted products are in high demand. If you have the right products in mind, there is little reason why a Glowforge couldn't power a creative business venture. 

The Glowforge Community

One of the largest benefits of the Glowforge ecosystem is its community. Glowforge laser engravers have been available for years in the US, and that means that there is a lot of helpful advise and support that's available online for new and existing users.

When experimenting with slate engraving during our review process, we found the Glowforge community to be hugely helpful. This allowed us to quickly find user-recommended settings for slate engraving, giving us the starting point we needed to engrave the material.

Think of it this way, while the Glowforge is new to the UK market, it has been rigorously used and tested by makers in the US for years. If you ever have a problem with a Glowforge, it is likely that somebody has faced a similar issue before and has discussed it on the Glowforge Community Forums.

Proofgrade Materials & Air Filter Add-on

Proofgrade materials are a key differentiator between Glowforge and their competitors. We have discussed this topic on page 3 of this review, but some points are worth mentioning again.

Proofgrade materials are sourced by Glowforge and are designed to be consistent and reliable. They have a protective coating to prevent laser burn marks at the edges of cuts, and the Glowforge's web app can read the QR codes on materials to quickly set up optimised settings for cuts, scores and engraves into Proofgrade materials. In short, Proofgrade materials make a Glowforge even easier to use. Proofgrade materials are designed to eliminate the need for manual setting calibrations and provide users with high quality, consistent materials. They are designed to give Glowforge users an easy life.

While Proofgrade materials may be expensive, they can save time and ensure good results when used. Glowforge users will have to decide for themselves whether they prefer Proofgrade materials over alternatively supplied materials.

Regarding the Glowforge Air Filter, the best thing that we can say about it is that is just works. It filters the smoke and other particles out of the air and allows the Glowforge to be used in an indoor environment. At £917.21, the add-on is expensive, but it works. If an outdoor exhaust is not an option for you, this is a solution that you need to consider.

Glowforge Pro 3D Laser Printer Review

Some Critiques, All Minor

So, what don't we like about the Glowforge? The first gripe that we had was that its app was web-based, requiring the Glowforge to be internet-connected while preventing users from installing and using Glowforge software from their own PCs.

While reliance on internet connectivity and Glowforge's servers may be annoying, it is easy to see why these limitations are in place. The Glowforge is designed to be used by almost everyone, and part of that ease of use comes from Glowforge's web app and web-based servers.

You don't need a powerful PC to run Glowforge's software, just a device with a web browser. This allows Glowforge users to use Android devices, iOS products, MacBooks, Chromebooks and Windows PCs to control their Glowforge units. Just imagine the extra issues that users could face if Glowforge needed dedicated apps for all of these devices and users had to frequently update these apps.

Another minor quibble with the Glowforge is that it is a loud machine. Don't expect the Glowforge to be quiet. If you are working in the same room as this machine, noise blocking earphones and ear plugs are recommended. Without the air filter, the Glowforge's integrated fan has a loud whine, and while the air filter's fan is not as troublesome, it is almost just as loud. When you look at the Glowforge as what it is, a high-end laser cutter, this makes a lot of sense. This is a piece of machinery, not a toy.

One feature that I would like to see on the Glowforge's web app is the ability to save profiles for non-Proofgrade materials, as this would be a handy add-on for many users. That said, a notepad or Excel document can achieve the same results, albeit with a little extra faff.

Frankly, if you can afford it, want one, and are willing to pay its asking price, there is little reason for you not to enjoy having a Glowforge.

The Glowforge Pro

What we have for review today is the Glowforge Pro, the flagship £5,995 Glowforge model. It is an excellent machine, but it is expensive. While we have not tested the Glowforge Basic and Glowforge Pro, both feature lower price tags and a similar feature set. Most of what we have achieved with the Glowforge Pro could be achieved with its lower cost counterparts.

What the Glowforge Pro offers is Pass-through support, a higher wattage CO2 laser, updated cooling that's designed for "All-Day Use", faster cutting speeds and an "enhanced top speed" for engraving. The Glowforge Pro is clearly the best machine of the three, but the lower pricing of the Basic and Plus models makes them worthy of consideration. Ultimately, your budget and requirements will dictate which machine is best for you.

Final Words & Award

The Glowforge Pro is a machine that is groundbreaking. While the idea of a laser cutter/engraver is not new, it is rare for such a complex piece of equipment to be this easy to use. I never expected a laser cutter to be so easy to set up and use.

Honestly, this is a machine that I could keep on talking about. That's why we are giving the Glowforge Pro our Enthusiast Grade award. It's a product that is the definition of "Enthusiast Grade". Yes, you will need to develop some skills to get the most out of this machine, but all of that is part of the design and manufacturing process. The limits of this machine are the limits of your imagination.

If you are looking for a laser cutter that is easy to use and has a large printing area, the Glowforge series is worth looking into.

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