3D printers like the Glowforge Plus are nothing short of phenomenal. You can laser cut and engrave all kinds of different materials, and create something that looks simply stunning, just by a few clicks of a button.
But, and it’s a big but, the Glowforge Plus costs thousands of dollars. So before you go ahead and buy it, you have to be sure that it lives up to the hype.
That is why we’ve put this review together for you. We’re going to cover everything you need to know before you buy.
Please feel free to scroll ahead to any section of particular interest to you.
The Glowforge company was founded by one Dan Shapiro as recently as 2014, and actually became the biggest crowdfunding campaign in history!
Sahpiro’s vision was of a world where anyone can create their own stunning, customized items rather than having to buy them.
What Exactly Is Glowforge Plus?
Ok, so technically the Glowforge Plus is not a 3D printer. It’s actually a CNC laser cutter and engraver. Whereas a 3D printer will add material to a printout, the Glowforge Plus removes material from an existing product.
What Is the Glowforge Plus Capable Of?
Cutting and engraving is very much a visual hobby, so to do the machine any justice, you should totally check out some of the amazing items people have created with it. I want to upload all the photos, but I can’t, so please instead click on this link to the Glowforge Instagram page.
The list of what it can do is seemingly endless, but some of my personal favorites include layered wood projects, home decor, jewelry, and engraved leather journals.
Materials It Can Print With
Now, the Glowforge Plus has two main functions, cutting and engraving. There is some considerable overlap between what materials it can cut and what materials it can engrave, but there are some important differences, so here’s a quick run down.
What Materials Can The Glowforge Plus Both Cut And Engrave?
- And more
What Materials Can The Glowforge Only Engrave?
- Anodized aluminum
- Coated metals
- Ceramic tile
- Rubber stamps
Specifications / Maximum Printing Size
It may not look particularly big, but the Glowforge Plus has a fairly generous maximum print area.
More specifically, the layout of the work area is as follows:
- The cutting area is 279 mm deep by 495 mm wide
- The maximum material height is 50 mm
- The maximum material depth is 455 mm, and
- The maximum material width is 515 mm
Ease Of Use
You don’t have to be particularly dexterous to work with the Glowforge Plus. The machine does all the hard work.
And you don’t necessarily need to be particularly artistic to use the Glowforge Plus either, because there are loads of pre-designed projects that you can work with.
There are just three steps to making your product:
- Make Your Design
- You can either make a design using software you know.
- Or you can make a hand drawing and scan it with the on-board cameras
- Position your material and check the preview
- Click Print when you are ready
- Enjoy your creation
- Decide whether to keep it for yourself or sell it on
One of the great things about the Glowforge Plus is how everything is automated…
The two cameras feature an autofocus, the machine automatically detects which material is being used, and the print settings are automatically set up for you too. It really couldn’t be any easier!
We are pleased to report that, despite what the machine is capable of, setting it up properly can be done within just half an hour of unboxing it. (We won’t go into the process in too much detail here, as you will be given a guide within the box.)
It’s mostly just a case of sliding in the crumb tray, setting up the exhaust for the fumes, connecting to the Wi-Fi, and calibrating the machine. Then you’re good to go.
Here follows some of the features and their respective benefits.
Built-In Closed-Loop Water Cooling System
This removes the need for a separate cooler or water pump.
This serves to blow away the fumes produced by the laser beam, preventing it from igniting and from damage to the lens.
Automatically Adjusted Optical Equipment
There are two built-in cameras, and they auto-adjust, thus eliminating the need for manually adjusting the lenses.
This enables optimal heat transfer between the material and the surrounding air.
The print quality of this machine is absolutely superb – the manufacturer claims that it’s precise to the width of a human hair, but to look at the designs, it looks even better.
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One of the great things about Glowforge Plus is the wide range of compatible software. Not to mention the file compatibility.
If you’re not using a simple drawing or photo, you can hook up the Glowforge to either your PC, mac, smartphone or tablet and use design software to create your chosen images.
The machine comes with software included, and this software is entirely cloud-based, so you will need a Wi-Fi connection.
But the software is compatible with a wide range of operating systems including iOS, Windows, Linux and Android. The software is user-friendly and comes packed with features. And it gets regular updates.
But if you’re not keen on the included software, you can also use the likes of Adobe Illustrator, or other CAD software, or even Microsoft PowerPoint!
It is the type of file that is important rather than the software used. And there’s a wide range of compatible files. These include JPG, PDF, PNG, SVG and more.
Once connected to WiFi, the included software will receive automatic updates.
After Sales Support
The Glowforge Plus is backed by a lengthy 2-year warranty, and the user manual is very comprehensive and detailed and covers just about everything you need to know to put the machine to good use.
However, as for the after sales technical support, some customers have found this to be a little lacking.
On the flip side, however, there is great community support to which you ask any query that you might have and expect to receive an answer from somebody.
What Other People Are Saying About Glowforge Plus
When we took to the Glowforge Plus website, we were surprised to learn that their website does not only publish positive reviews, but also publishes negative reviews as well.
However, when this article was written, of the 800 plus reviews cataloged there, the large majority were very positive, with over 600 reviews giving it a full 5 stars, while nearly 200 people gave it 4 stars, resulting in an average customer rating of 4 and a half stars.
Similarly, on Amazon.com, after approximately 200 customer ratings, the average Amazon customer rating comes out at 4 and a half stars out of 5, with more than 70% of reviewers giving it a full 5 stars out of 5.
In particular, customers praise how easy the machine is to set up and how easy it is to print with.
If you have the time, it’s worth scrolling through a few of the reviews because some of them feature some great tips.
Of course, as we mentioned in our introduction, the Glowforge Plus is very expensive, costing thousands of dollars. And for this reason, the product only really attracts the very wealthy, or people who see the purchase as a business investment to create products to sell on.
But it’s important to note at this point that the Glowforge Plus is a whopping $2000 cheaper than the Glowforge Pro.
As business capital, we would argue that the purchase could be worth it, and in time, with enough marketing, you will see a return on your investment. But we would only recommend it to users who already have some artistic talent, to truly take advantage of what the machine can achieve.
The Glowforge Plus is an excellent machine that produces great work and rarely runs into issues.
Not only is it incredibly versatile with the wide range of materials it can work with, but the print quality is equally incredible.
Moreover, we can’t get over just how easy it is to use. You can get it set up within just half an hour of unboxing, and use simple and even free software to amazing effect.
It’s priced midway between the Glowforge Basic and the Glowforge Plus, so it provides a good balance between astounding quality and precision and affordability.
However, it’s still quite expensive, so if you do decide to go for it, you should totally try to make money out of it, selling your wares.