What is the Glowforge laser engraver like after two years of use?

In my Glowforge Review I have been keeping some information up to date but it is time to give our long-term thoughts.

Our first Glowforge laser engraver arrived October 2018. A few months later we bought a second Glowforge Basic. Since then they have been operating pretty much non-stop.

I felt this was sufficient time to allow for a long term Glowforge Basic review!

As well as the Glowforge units, we also have two other laser cutters, use laser cutters at two local makerspaces, and sold our massively upgraded K40 laser cutter too. This gives us something to compare against.

What is our Glowforge Review today?

If anything I am more impressed today than I was. And that is after buying a Full Spectrum Muse, which is more than double the price of a Glowforge Basic.

It’s the easiest, friendliest, and most updated laser cutter on the market.

The Glowforge is NOT a laser printer

and it is not a laser-powered Cricut either

Other than routine maintenance, the only repair that has been required is new ribbon cables on the camera. Fortunately for the second one I had purchased in advance, and it is a 2 minute switch-out to get up and running again.

I wish it didn’t cost $100 USD minimum to ship Proofgrade materials here (that’s for one sheet!), but really that is my only complaint. I bought a Montana mailbox who reship to me in Calgary for a fee plus import duty, and we buy plywood from a local cabinet maker, instead.

My wife went from absolutely no idea how to operate a laser to having her own thriving full-time business (hence us getting a second Glowforge Basic). There’s no way she would have had that confidence with any of the other machines.

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Is Glowforge Pro worth it?

I wrote a full article about which Glowforge to buy, that covers Glowforge Basic, and Plus versus Glowforge Pro, but my answer today is a little more nuanced.

Since that article was published, Glowforge added a speed enhancement to the Glowforge Pro that makes it a bit more desirable. It has a longer warranty and a true pass-through that is now fully implemented.

Yes, on the Basic you can “pass-in” longer items, and folks have cut the base out, but you don’t get the software assistance. See my tutorial on Glowforge Pass-In Hack.

That said, for absolute beginners who are testing the waters, and folks who don’t need the extended capacity, the Basic is awesome.

What Can You Make with a Glowforge?

We have been blown away with what we have been able to make with the Glowforge (some examples below). Really, your imagination, and your experience with design, is the limit.

Yes, unless you are using other people’s designs (free or purchased), you will need to learn design software. Many folks use the free Inkscape. I use Adobe Illustrator because that is what I know. There are a lot of fans of the paid version of the Silhouette software (you need the paid version so that you can export the correct format files).

What you can not do is anything that requires more than 2″ material height (without modifying your machine — some folks have cut the base out of theirs) or that requires a rotational axis. Of course, you can’t cut metal either.

Would we buy another Glowforge?

Absolutely, yes! In fact before the pandemic I was considering buying a Glowforge Pro, but we are going to see if work picks back up (my wife re-opened her store just a couple weeks ago).

Bottom Line

I have used a lot of laser cutters, and can honestly say the Glowforge is the nicest to use and the most beginner friendly.

You don’t have to worry about aligning mirrors, focusing, or positioning. The software is being continually improved, and the community behind it is amazingly friendly and helpful.

Glowforge has my unreserved recommendation now more than ever!

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