Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer Rated
- Print Quality
- User Experience
- Ease of Use
- Value for Money
Craft Schmaft Verdict
We like the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer for relatively easy use and wide range of materials, as long as you have good access to WiFi and enough space for the machine itself.
Have you ever wanted to cut or engrave your own materials, instead of buying them pre-made? Or have you considered printing your own designs, but weren’t sure how? That’s where the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer comes in. According to testers, it’s very easy to set up and use, works on a considerable range of materials, and is safe to operate around children.
With that said, not all testers were pleased. Some disliked its bulky size, while others noted it had certain, frustrating limitations. Are these rare issues or the final verdict? Before you make your decision, let’s look a little closer at the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer. It may surprise you!
Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer: The Details
- Weight: 144 lbs.
- Dimensions: 37.9 x 20.7 x 8.3 inches.
- Print Dimensions: 11.5 x 20 inches.
- Ready to Print? No.
- Compatibility: Mac, PC, Linux, mobile devices.
- Warranty: One-year warranty.
How Does it Work?
For newcomers and experienced crafters alike, setting up and using the Glowforge Plus is a straightforward venture. There are three basic steps.
First, create your design. Since the Glowforge software is compatible with everything from PowerPoint to Illustrator to CAD, designs are easy to port in. You can also develop them physically, then use the onboard camera to scan your drawings and turn them digital.
With the Trace feature, you’re able to draw directly on your materials with a pen, and the printer will scan your drawing and cut it exactly as you’ve drawn it. If you aren’t interested in learning a software program, this is a great option for you!
Next, place your material in the print bed’s center and use the app to preview its final look. This ensures the material is adequately centered and the design is without flaw, so you can make changes if needed. Once you’re satisfied, press “print” and watch the machine do its job.
The final step is to assemble or customize what you’ve printed. Often times, you’ll be printing, cutting, or engraving different parts of a project and then assembling them to make the final result. Once that’s finished, you’re ready to use or gift it!
- Lens cleaning wipe.
- Lens tool.
- Laser head.
- Exhaust hose.
- Crumb tray.
- Material pack.
The print area on the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer is rather large, at 11.5 x 20 inches. This broadens your options, so you can print or engrave on items in many differing sizes. As a plus, because the lid is clear, you can view the entire printing area, double checking on the progress or just enjoying the show.
The laser on the Glowforge 3D printer is a custom CO2 glass 45W laser tube. It’s able to cut through a wide range of materials, including a ½ inch of hardwood.
It’s also precise, cutting a line as fine as a human hair or carving and engraving over 1,300 lines per inch. The laser on the Glowforge works continuously, so the printer never has to halt during the process.
The software for the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer is entirely cloud-based. For the majority of its features, you must be connected to the internet. While this might be inconvenient for some, it also means you receive automatic software updates, ensuring you have the most up-to-date features.
The software can be used with iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux, on anything from your computer to your phone to your tablet. You can also import images, so long as they’re JPG, PNG, SVG, or PDF files.
You can create files that are compatible with the Glowforge from a variety of programs, including Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk 360, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Sketchup.
The Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer also features two on-board cameras. The wide-angle camera on the lid helps you clearly view the printing area, with accuracy within ¼ inch.
There is also the macro camera, mounted on the laser head, giving you close-up shots of your design. This camera is accurate within 0.1 mm. It can also scan your design and then resize, copy, change, or save it for later.
The Glowforge even shows you a camera preview of your design on your material before you print it, giving you the option to place the design exactly where you want it.
Trace is a really interesting feature that can help users without digital design abilities use the Glowforge easily.
With Trace, the machine will scan the materials and cut what it sees, which means that you can draw directly on the materials with a pen and the printer will “see” the design and cut accordingly. Since this gives users the option to create without producing their designs through the various software programs, more crafters can get started right away using the Glowforge.
That being said, this printer works with a wide variety of software programs, so digital artists need not fret! Trace is just one of the capabilities of this printer.
The printing feature accommodates wood, leather, paper, fabric, acrylic, glass, metal, cardboard, and even chocolate. You can cut and engrave on leather, plexiglass, mylar, rubber, cork, and sandpapers. For just engraving, it handles glass, marble, rubber stamps, stone, and ceramic tiles.
Glowforge sells what they call “Proofgrade” materials, which are tested and approved with the printer, and the machine has settings saved for the different Proofgrade materials. However, more advanced users can input their own settings and use other materials – at their own risk, of course!
Having the option to change the settings does give more advanced users a wider range of possibilities.
Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer Review
Easy to Set Up
According to tester feedback, the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer offers a straightforward set-up process, requiring no more than an hour.
Once it’s unboxed, lift the printer’s lid and lower the front door. Gently push the laser arm away and find the crumb tray in your accessories box. Slide it into the bottom of the print area, until you notice the feet settling into place. Close the front door.
Next, snap the printer head into place by sliding the metal plate to the right, and then push the arm toward the back of the printer. Carefully lift the printer head and remove it from the white foam tray. Remove the orange cylinder from inside the head. Next, pick up the wire ribbon and slide it into the printer head. Place the printer head over the metal plate and then push it away from you. You should feel it click into place. So long as it slides freely, you’ve installed it correctly.
Time for the exhaust! Connect the hose to the printer by sliding the ring clamp around the hose and then squeezing the two portions of the clamp back together. Put the other end of the exhaust through a window or vent, so it can expel heat or fumes properly. The printer only needs to be within eight feet of a window or vent for the exhaust hose to reach.
Finally, plug in the machine. Activate it with the “on/off” button and watch it light up. From there, just sign up for a Glowforge account and follow its prompts to connect your Wi-Fi and calibrate the printer.
Easy to Use
While it may appear complicated, the Glowforge laser printer is easy to use. If you’re nervous, don’t worry; Glowforge provides three test-prints with instructions, so you can grow acquainted with the process.
This printer is extremely versatile, which testers overwhelmingly appreciated. You aren’t restricted to a small collection, and can engrave, print, or cut anything from wood, to ceramic, acrylic, fabric, glass, metal, stone, and even chocolate. While not all materials can be engraved or cut, so long as you double check which features apply to which material, you’ll be leveraging its versatile abilities right away.
This Glowforge Plus laser printer is also very safe. Whether you’re operating it at home or bringing it to a classroom, there’s no danger of accidental burns, cuts, or other injuries. The process is fully enclosed in the machine, so no hands can interfere. It has also passed UL, CE, FDA, and FCC standards for safety when independently tested.
A few testers complained about the bulky design of this printer. It’s both large and heavy, which makes it difficult to unbox or move to different workspaces. You’ll likely need two sets of hands, and a big area dedicated to its storage.
However, while annoying, this is simply the trade-off for a sturdy design that offers a larger printing bed.
Versatile? Yes. Universal? No. Some testers were displeased that the Glowforge didn’t cut, engrave, and print on all materials; instead, certain features only accommodate certain materials.
Also, you have to be connected to Wi-Fi at all times. The printer will not work without the connection. These limitations were annoying to some testers.
Noise and Smell
Since the Glowforge cuts with a laser, there is a burning smell that accompanies the process. The included vent exhaust system makes a big difference, but it’s worth mentioning here that anytime a laser is used to burn/cut any material, it produces a smell!
The machine isn’t silent either – at its loudest, it could be compared to a vacuum, so it’s not like having an airplane taking off in your workspace, but it’s not whisper-soft.
Different materials result in different decibel levels while cutting, so the volume level will change depending on the project. It wasn’t enough to deter us from creating awesome projects, it’s just something to keep in mind when you’re choosing where to put your machine. If you like to work late at night, maybe don’t put the machine in a shared bedroom!
After combing through all the positives and negatives, we do recommend the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer. Even for beginners, it’s rather easy to set up and use. With an enclosed design, it ensures no curious hands get damaged. Finally, it works on an incredible range of materials.
However, it will take up a considerable amount of space, and Wi-Fi is needed at all times. So long as these are acceptable downsides for you, this 3D laser printer is an excellent purchase.
Where to Buy
The Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer is available on the Glowforge site:
Or of course, on Amazon!
So that’s our review of the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer! Are you interested in adding it to your crafting arsenal?