The Glowforge Pro is a desktop laser cutter and engraver from Glowforge, a US-based manufacturer.
It is a feature-rich laser machine with a powerful laser to cut and engrave different materials.
But is it the best laser cutter for its price point? And should you consider buying it?
This article discusses Glowforge Pro in detail and helps you to understand if it is the right choice for you.
I have also compared the Pro model with the Basic and Plus models at the end of this article.
Glowforge Pro Review
I reviewed Glowforge Pro after going through its various important features, such as design, material capability, accessories, drive system, after-sale service, etc.
1. Size and Design
|38’’ x 20.75’’ x 8.25"|
(965mm x 527mm x 210mm)
|19.5” x 11"|
(495mm x 279mm)
Size and weight of Glowforge Pro
The Glowforge Pro is a sleek benchtop laser cutter ideal for a hobbyist's workshop or small-scale business.
It has a footprint of around 38’’ x 20.75’’ x 8.25’’ (965mm x 527mm x 210mm) and weighs approximately 25 kg.
Glowforge Pro provides a work area of 19.5” ( 495 mm) x 11” ( 279 mm), and its passthrough slot allows to fit materials of unlimited length.
However, you will need good clearance on the front and back of the machine to access the pass-through slot.
It can handle workpieces with a maximum thickness of 2", but the pass-through slit allows materials with a maximum thickness of 1/4".
Glowforge Pro is a hefty laser cutter that requires a sturdy table to place it safely.
2. Laser Module
The Glowforge Pro houses a 45W, class-4 CO2 laser, which operates at a wavelength of 10,600 nm.
It is a powerful laser cutter that can perform engravings with a maximum resolution of 1,000 dpi
The ability to focus the laser in a tight spot allows Glowforge to perform intricate cuts with a narrow kerf width of around 0.008”-0.025” ( 0.2 mm-0.6 mm).
Its powerful laser module combined with tight spot size enables Glowforge Pro to perform quick cuts with high precision, thereby increasing productivity.
With optimal parameters and good process control, Glowforge Pro can be used for making precision cuts in a variety of materials.
3. Linear Drive System
The Glowforge Pro has an upgraded linear system that consists of custom extruded aluminum rails with a belt-driven V-wheel carrier.
It uses a hybrid stepper motor with twin steppers for controlling the movement along the y-axis and a single stepper for the x-axis.
The belt-driven V-wheel carrier along with the hybrid stepper motor arrangement allows the positioning of the laser beam accurately with a high precision of around 0.001" (0.03mm).
4. Material Capability
Material capability of Glowforge Pro
Furthermore, Glowforge provides specially designed materials known as Proofgrade materials for its laser cutters.
These are high-quality materials with uniform density, making them ideal for laser cutting and engraving projects.
Proofgrade materials are sized to fit your Glowforge laser cutter, and they also work well with other CO2 laser cutters and engravers.
These materials have a protective film that prevents them from unwanted smoke and burn marks during the cutting or engraving process.
You can remove the protective layer from your finished product, after completing the process.
Furthermore, Proofgrade material comes with a QR code sticker, which enables Glowforge Pro to scan the code and set the optimal parameters automatically.
Glowforge Pro comes with a dedicated browser-based app that you can use to import design files from any CAD software that exports JPG, PDF, PNG, and SVG files.
Although you cannot create design files in the Glowforge app, it provides some basic editing features to optimize the design for your workpiece.
After optimizing the design for your workpiece, you can use the app to set the laser parameters (power, speed, lines per inch, number of passes, etc.) for the cutting/engraving process.
Furthermore, Glowforge provides a dedicated smartphone app that allows you to control the laser cutter from your smartphone.
You can select an image from your smartphone's gallery and add it to the design for engraving process.
This app is loaded with free graphics and templates that can be readily used for cutting and engraving projects.
You can also subscribe to Glowforge Premium via the app, which will provide access to unlimited design templates and advanced tools to optimize your designs.
It also provides unlimited storage for all your designs and supports DXF files.
6. Additional Features
Glowforge Pro is a feature-packed laser cutter that offers various advanced features to enhance its safety, efficiency, and productivity.
Air assist is used to blow the molten material out of the kerf thereby increasing the cutting speed.
It also blows the smoke and debris away from the focusing lens, thereby preventing it from damage and improving the quality of the cut.
Furthermore, it reduces the risk of fire by minimizing the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and keeping the temperature under control.
Glowforge Pro has an in-built air assist which eliminates the need for an external compressor.
This improves the cutting speed and enables you to produce clean cuts with a good surface finish.
The Glowforge Pro comes with two in-built cameras.
A wide-angle camera mounted on the lid, allows you to view the entire printable area to monitor the process.
This camera provides a live feed of the work area, thereby facilitating optimization of the design by placing it accurately on the workpiece.
The second camera, mounted on the laser head, is a macro camera. It provides close-up information for autofocus within 0.004” (0.1 mm).
Laser focus is an important parameter that ensures clean cuts with minimum heat-affected zone and narrow kerf widths.
However, setting the optimal laser focus can be difficult to achieve manually.
The macro camera of Glowforge Pro, scans the workpiece and helps in setting the optimal focal length automatically.
A de-focused laser is generally used for performing sub-surface laser engravings in acrylics.
Therefore, Glowforge Pro also provides the ability to adjust the laser focus manually and get the desired cut/engraving results on the workpiece.
The Glowforge Pro provides an excellent lighting system.
There are two internal LEDs that provide broad illumination for the cutting area.
It also features lights under the lid, which provide illumination not only to monitor the cutting/engraving process but also to facilitate the autofocus feature in dark environments.
The Glowforge Pro is certified to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards.
It consists of various safety sensors that detect and inform about irregularities such as unwanted movement of the laser cutter, overheating, and abrupt changes in the speed of the fan.
In addition to the above, Glowforge Pro comes with Pro shields, that cover the passthrough slots to ensure that nothing comes in or out through them, when not in use.
Furthermore, the detailed manual of Glowforge Pro provides all the necessary information about the laser equipment.
Metal Crumb Tray
Gowforge Pro comes with a detachable metal crumb tray that collects the dust and debris produced during the cutting and engraving process.
However, it reduces the maximum workable thickness of material from 2" to 0.5".
This means that, when using the metal crumb tray, Glowforge Pro can handle workpieces with a maximum thickness of 0.5".
Cooling and Ventilation
The Glowforge Pro has an enhanced solid-state thermoelectric cooling system that allows to operate it for long runs without overheating.
It comes with an inbuilt exhaust fan and an 8-foot long exhaust hose that can be used to dispose of the fumes away from the work area.
The exhaust duct is 4" in diameter and can easily connect with any standard inline exhaust fan to enhance its performance.
Glowforge also includes Proofgrade materials worth around $150 to every customer on the purchase of Glowforge Pro.
These materials can be used to perform initial test runs and find the optimal laser parameters for different applications.
Glowforge provides an optional air filter that you can include in the kit at some extra cost.
This will help in filtering the toxic fumes generated during the cutting and engraving processes.
The air filter uses activated carbon and High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) filters to clean the air that comes out of the exhaust system.
However, the dust and debris produced during laser engraving of materials like wood and MDF can clog the air filter, leading to the need for a quick filter replacement.
Glowforge also provides replacement cartridges for their filter, and you can purchase them from their official website.
The air filter has a footprint of 16.14” x 10.43” x 16.92” (410 mm x 265 mm x 430 mm) and weighs around 22 kg.
Despite its heavy weight, the rolling wheels and convenient handle make it easy to move around.
The Air filter comes with a warranty period of 6 months.
Glowforge is one of the most popular desktop laser cutters and has a user base from all over the world.
They have an official forum where users share their experiences and answer queries, based on their experiences.
Glowforge also maintains an official blog where articles related to their products are regularly discussed.
Apart from that, there are several active social media groups where users share their experiences and help others in troubleshooting their machines.
They also provide online tutorials to school and college students to help them learn about Glowforge Pro and have a specialized pricing scheme for educational institutes.
9. Warranty and Customer Support
The Glowforge Pro comes with a comprehensive 12-month warranty for US customers.
For its customers in the UK, Glowforge offers a 2-year warranty on the Pro model.
Furthermore, Glowforge provides excellent customer support, and you can reach them via phone or email.
You can also submit your request for assistance through the help center provided on their website.
10. Final Thoughts
Glowforge Pro is a powerful machine that has the capability to cut and engrave a wide range of materials with excellent quality.
Its high accuracy and rich features have made it one of the most popular desktop laser cutters/engravers among professionals and hobbyists alike.
Despite its high laser power, the sleek enclosure and excellent safety features make it safe to operate even on busy shop floors.
Overall, it is an excellent laser cutter with a large community and excellent customer support that ensures hassle-free operation.
Glowforge Pro vs Plus vs Basic
Glowforge Basic and Plus are the earlier versions of the Pro machine.
Some of the differences between these three machines are summarized in the table below.
|Laser Power||45 W||40 W||40 W|
|Upgraded Hardware for Improved Speed||Yes||Yes||No|
|Enhanced Cooling for all-day use||Yes||No||No|
|Laser Class||Class 4||Class1||Class 1|
|Warranty Period||12 months||12 months||6 months|
Comparison between the pro, plus, and basic models of Glowforge
The work bed provided in all 3 machines is 19.5”(495mm) x 11”( 279 mm). However, the Glowforge Pro has a passthrough slot which allows the user to put materials of unlimited length.
The Glowforge Pro is a substantially improved version of the Plus and Basic versions.
It provides a comparatively higher laser power, suitable for large-volume projects in business applications.
On the other hand, Glowforge Basic is the introductory model, which is more suitable for beginners and hobbyists.
If you are an owner of a small-scale business, then it is ideal to buy Glowforge Pro.
Though it is expensive, it will ensure high quality and precision in your finished product.
However, if you intend to use the laser for personal use, or for occasional personalization of products, then it will be ideal to buy either the Plus or Basic version.
Apart from the Plus and Basic versions, you can also consider some other laser cutters that offer excellent alternatives to Glowforge.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can Glowforge Pro engrave Printed Circuit Boards(PCBs)?
No. It is because copper does not absorb the 10,600 nm wavelength of CO2 laser which is used in Glowforge Pro.
Can Glowforge Pro cut gold and silver?
No, gold and silver cannot be cut or engraved by Glowforge Pro. For this purpose, you should consider using a YAG laser or a fiber laser.
What are the power requirements of Glowforge Pro?
At its peak, the Glowforge Pro consumes 800W of power, but the average power consumption is around 300W. However, using the Glowforge air filter, will increase the average power consumption by 350W.