Mary Huang
Oct 8, 2015 · 2 min read

You left out these parts:

  1. The machine looks legit! It’s not a hacked together kit that you will have to debug incessantly. It’s clear in the industrial design alone that to pull off that level of production, the team knows how to manufacture a consumer grade device.
  2. The software has considerate features that separate it from the competition. The camera! The auto-focusing! Automatically scanning a drawing. These are things that no other laser-cutter manufacturer bothered to think about.
  3. You can get a built-in air filter. This is a major stumbling block when you want to get a laser-cutter for your garage or apartment fab lab.
  4. There is an existing community of people who have wanted a good laser-cutter at a good price for years. I’ve seen the Lasersaur (open-source project that was almost impossible to build), the Full-Spectrum Laser (almost same price and technical specs, but rougher around the edges in design and user experience), and $500 Chinese knock offs of the FSL (which is an unbeatable price but you seriously have to hack the software to get it to work), and all the usual VersaLaser and Epilogs (which usually start at $8k). Go to any TechShop and witness that signups for laser cutting fill up fast. And try to use the TechShop lasers and witness that it’s a pain to adjust the settings from the outdated onboard control panel.
  5. The video is awesome. It really shows all the cool stuff you can make with this machine. But the primary function of the video is to reinforce the sense of professionalism. These aren’t some college kids who made a prototype. This looks like a real product that’s going to ship and work like it promises.

The Glowforge is a success because it’s a great product at the right time. It doesn’t really matter what platform they launched on. (But yes there are advantages to putting it on your own site. One main thing being dealing with tracking the orders after the campaign.) Heck for the first 2 days, the “specs” page on their site wasn’t working properly and they still made it past the $2 million mark by day 3.

I’m guessing that the vast majority of Glowforge preorders are by people who have already used a laser-cutter at some point. Maybe they can do a survey and release some numbers. I don’t think anyone decides to buy a $2k+ laser cutter from just a pre-order campaign, no matter how awesomely the video, website, and campaign is designed. But it would be interesting to find out how many complete novices their campaign captured.

Btw, the Othermill is great too. :) I saw you guys at Makerfaire a couple years ago.

Mary Huang

Written by

Designer. Curious about everything.

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