If you are considering purchasing a Glowforge, you have t read this post first! It outlines 16 topics that you should consider before you buy your Glowforge 3D Laser Printer!
So, you’re considering purchasing a Glowforge.
Congrats! These are pretty neat machines, and they can really take your creating to a whole new level. However, they are a BIG purchase – and it’s not a decision to take lightly.
Chances are, if you are reading this post, you are hoping to get a little bit of advice on what you should know before you take that final plunge – or maybe some advice on whether or not it’s the right machine for you.
I’ll be honest, not everyone should get a Glowforge. It’s not just a machine that you should buy on whim or just buy to use once or twice a year. Understanding the investment involved and determining if it’s worth it for you is really the first step.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Glowforge?
- What is a Glowforge?
- How does it work?
- Why Glowforge?
- Why do you want one?
- Which Glowforge model is best for you?
- How Much Does a Glowforge Cost
- Shipping Times
- Glowforge versus Cricut and Silhouette Machines
- Where do you live?
- Do you have a WiFi enabled device (computer, tablet, etc)?
- Additional Costs Involved
- Space Requirements
- Join Glowforge Groups
- Consider Renting One
- Should I Buy a Used Glowforge?
- More Posts You Might Enjoy:
You probably already know what a Glowforge is, but if you stumbled onto this post on accident or out of pure curiosity, here’s a brief overview.
Glowforge is a compact 3D laser cutting and engraving machine that can be used for personal and commercial uses. The device is so easy to use that even children or amateur designers can create stunning works of art pretty easily. It primarily can cut, engrave, and score with ease.
The device comes with free software and built-in cameras to keep track of the work progress in real time from your computer.
Glowforge can cut a variety of materials such as wood, acrylic, paper, leather, rubber, and much more. It can also be used to engrave on tougher materials like glass, coated metal, marble, aluminum, titanium and more.
Laser printers are not a new invention, and there are other home-based machines out there. However, Glowforge has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and it has a pretty robust community. People are making a lot of money with their Glowforge machines, which is one of the main allures.
How does it work?
The device uses CO2 laser for precise cutting and engraving. The machine produces a powerful laser beam in a sealed glass tube that is filled with CO2. High voltage flowing through the tube reacts with the gas and produces a strong beam of light which can vaporize materials and cut through.
Glowforge supports a huge number of file formats and design tools to bring your imagination to life.
Most cutting and engraving devices available on the market use saw blades and drill bits. This can get risky and messy at the same time. Accidents caused by saw blades are very common.
On the other hand, Glowforge uses a powerful laser to cut and engrave materials. The device is very safe to use, doesn’t create a mess and most importantly gets the job done seamlessly. The laser allows the device to cut and engrave materials with absolute precision.
Glowforge is suitable for anyone for it’s simplicity and ease of use. Not to mention the safety and precision that comes with it.
Why do you want one?
This is really important question to ask – what is the reason behind purchasing one? Do you have a solid business plan in place for a business that Glowforge can help you grow and earn money with? Do you feel limited by what you can do with your Cricut or Silhouette and you have the funds to afford this new hobby?
I’m not here to say who should and should not spend the money on a Glowforge. If you have the money and you just want one just because you want one – then go for it. But I’m a big believer in knowing exactly why you are purchasing something and being accountable to that money.
Which Glowforge model is best for you?
Three models of Glowforge are available depending on your requirements and uses. Make sure to read this post to help you decide – Glowforge Comparison: Which One is Right For You?
How Much Does a Glowforge Cost
The Glowforge costs between $3000 and $6000, depending on which model you get. You can get $500 off the Glowforge Pro, $250 off the Glowforge Plus, and $125 off the Basic with our referral link.
This may change with time, but currently, the wait time for getting a Glowforge can be several months. Some people feel a bit blindsided by this, and while it’s worth the wait, it is something to factor in.
Glowforge versus Cricut and Silhouette Machines
I have had Cricut and Silhouette machines for years – they are AMAZING, and I love them, and I feel that they’ve really made it so the average person can afford a high-quality machine that allows them to create so many different things.
While there are some similarities between a Glowforge and a Cricut or Silhouette machine (which I will dive deeper into in another post), here are the key differences:
Laser versus Blades
Cricut and Silhouette machines use a variety of different blades to cut, write and score on materials. The Glowforge uses a laser for engraving, cutting, and scoring. It’s just a very different process.
Although the Cricut can technically engrave, the Glowforge really blows it out of the water when it comes to engraving. However, for basic engraving projects, the Cricut will do.
The Glowforge is meant for thicker, hardier materials like wood, acrylic, glass, leather, etc. That’s where it truly shines. With Cricut and Silhouette machines, they are going to be better at materials like vinyl, cardstock, and paper.
The Glowforge is huge – there’s no way you are going to throw it in a cute carrying case and bring it with you when you travel or over to a friend’s house for a craft night. The Glowforge is huge and heavy, and it is really just going to stay put wherever you put it.
Cricut and Silhouette machines are definitely much quieter than the Glowforge. I honestly am not bothered by the sound of the Glowforge, but it is quite a bit louder!
Both machines can be safely used pretty easily, but there are more safety precautions that you need to take when using the Glowforge – specifically when it comes to venting.
Learn more about Cricut and Silhouette machine options below:
- The Silhouette Cameo 4 Beginner’s Guide
- Cricut Joy versus Explore Air 2 Versus Maker: Which Should You Get?
Where do you live?
This might seem like a weird question, but where do you live? Do you live in a single family home, a townhome, or an apartment?
It really shouldn’t matter, but if you live in an apartment or a home that has someone else SUPER close to where you are using your machine (especially where you are venting), it might cause some problems with neighbors who don’t like any extra noise. If you live in a place where you can’t easily vent your Glowforge, that might be problematic as well.
Do you have a WiFi enabled device (computer, tablet, etc)?
In order to use your Glowforge, you will need to have a stable WiFi connection and a device to access the Glowforge App.
The Glowforge app is a browser-based program. It can be used on a Desktop or Laptop, tablet or smart phone, but I will say in my experience, using it on a Desktop or Laptop is a lot easier than using the program on your phone. Certainly not impossible, but you definitely want to consider the ease of use when spending thousands of dollars on a machine.
Additional Costs Involved
I saw recently in a group where a lady said she was surprised at how much money she spent on materials for her Glowforge. So the investment doesn’t just end with the purchase of your Glowforge. You have to continually buy materials, and depending on what you make and where you buy them from, this can really add up.
Of course, if you are selling products, you have to just factor this into how much you charge (and maybe don’t buy a bunch of materials before you know you’ll get sales).
Other costs to consider:
- Computer or Tablet suitable for using the Glowforge with
- Any design programs you choose to buy
- Laser cut files that you purchase
- Desk or table that can fit your Glowforge
- Fees for selling projects (online, vendor fees for in-person fairs, etc).
In order to safely use your Glowforge, you need to be able to vent out the fumes that are created when it is used – and yes, this is a requirement.
The Glowforge is a large machine. We have a pretty large crafting space in our basement, but we had to clear off a pretty large table for it. We exclusively use our other crafting machines on our DreamBox, however, the Glowforge was a bit too big. And honestly, even if it had fit on the table, I wouldn’t have wanted to use it there because the allure of the DreamBox is that it folds up nice and tidy.
Ideally, you’ll have a room where you can have your Glowforge stored – and not, say, on your kitchen table. It needs a solid, large surface that you can justify giving up the real estate of that area for the length of time you have your Glowforge (which will hopefully be a long time!).
All three models of Glowforge are 38″ x 20.75″ x 8.25″, and you want to have at least an inch of space on each side of the Glowforge.
Join Glowforge Groups
There are so many fantastic Glowforge groups that you can join on Facebook, and there are also some great forums too. The Glowforge community is alive, well, and, for the most part, very friendly and helpful.
It can be helpful to peruse through these resources to see what issues people have, what they’d wish they’d known before getting started with their Glowforge or buying one.
My friend, Amber, and I run a new Glowforge group – come and help it grow! Click here to join.
Consider Renting One
Select Joann Fabric stores actually have Glowforge machines that you can rent. I couldn’t find any near me that do, but if you have one in your area, it might be a good idea to rent one and see if it’s a good fit for you. I can’t really find any specific details on this program. It sounds like they are sold on an hourly basis, and the one comment I read from a year ago said it was $15 an hour, though I suspect the exact details will vary from store to store.
You could also ask around and see if you have any friends or acquaintances who have a Glowforge that would be willing to let you try it out.
Should I Buy a Used Glowforge?
There are lots of people looking to sell their Glowforge machines for one reason or another. While this can help you save a buck or two on your machine, I would definitely proceed with caution. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Is it still under warranty? While this isn’t required, it is helpful – especially when buying a used machine that you can’t guarantee the history of.
- Why are they selling it? A person can certainly lie about why they are selling the machine, but it’s a good idea to ask why.
- Test it out. Make sure you test the machine out to ensure it actually works. Never just take someone’s word on it!
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions – if they skirt around a question or seem dodgy in any way, be wary about proceeding.
- Buy it in person. Never buy something from someone who says they will ship the product to you unless it’s through a platform that will protect you. In general, if it seems too good to be true…it probably is.