With a 3D laser printer like Glowforge, the possibilities are nearly endless.
What can you make with a Glowforge?
With a Glowforge laser machine, you can create several different projects like home improvement, jewelry, organizer, holiday ornaments, pet tags, maps, furniture, stamps, etc. by working on different materials like wood, leather, paper, acrylic, rubber, fabric, glass, tile, coated metals, and several other similar materials.
Laser cutters and engraver machines, in general, are great value-adders and can easily pay for themselves if you use them smartly.
Though this article talks about the projects you can make with a Glowforge, these are also applicable to similar laser machines from other manufacturers.
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Glowforge Project Ideas
Glowforge laser machines are safe for working in a home environment and can be used to create many different family projects.
Some examples are family photo puzzles, name boards, kids' art, house replica, key chain, family stamp, family cards, etc.
Photo puzzles will be a good time spender for kids. Also, such projects help develop their cognitive abilities.
Name boards are a fun way to credit people in the family and involve them in the creative process of laser cutting and engraving.
Acrylic and other plastic sheets can also be used, but it's not always safe to work with these materials in a home environment.
Home Improvement Projects
You can customize anything in your house that is made using materials that can be engraved or cut using Glowforge.
Decorative wood gates, house number boards, wall art, lamp cover, family coasters, address tile, etched wine glasses, etc., are some of the creative projects that you can try.
Organizers are a good way to keep track of your things. Using Glowforge, you can precisely cut and engrave wood, fabric, leather, paper, acrylic, rubber, etc., for many different organizer projects.
Some organizer project ideas are customizable weck jar lids, pen holders, cantilever sewing boxes, beer caddy, display stands, storage boxes, jewelry racks, tool holders, drill bit organizers, toothbrush holders, knife blocks, etc.
There are many different free and licensable game templates available online that you can use to build fun board games, puzzles, dice throwers, game pieces, 3D mazes, and more such projects.
You can mix and match different materials to create some amazing game projects.
However, working on different materials requires good knowledge of optimal laser parameters for different materials.
Glowforge can effectively work on materials like wood, leather, foam, fabrics, etc., that are used in most furniture.
Shelves, chairs, tables, racks, stands, etc., are some of the furniture projects you can try out.
Unfortunately, Glowforge has a restricted work area, limiting the size of workpieces you can process with it.
People love customized jewelry items. You can cut and engrave many different materials with Glowforge to make such creative projects.
Leather bracelets, earrings, pendants, polishing stations, brooches, etc., are some popular projects you can try.
Everyone loves their pets, and many shows their affection through keepsake paw prints, engraved pet photo, memorials, pet house, name tag, bowl stand, rest shelves, and more such projects.
Glowforge is used in many educational institutions for students to make different creative projects.
You can use it to create prototypes, mementos, teacher name signs, easels, class frames, plaques, architecture models, robot parts, name tags, holders for lab, signage, geometry projects, etc.
Glowforge can make many creative projects for celebrating your milestones or favorite events in life like birthdays, weddings, housewarmings, newborns, anniversaries, promotion parties, and more.
Some of the go-to ideas are cake toppers, invitation cards, present boxes, ring boxes, engraved photos, party hangars, signs, etc.
Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year's Day, Mothers Day, Labor Day, Fathers day, etc., are some of the popular holidays.
You can make some earnings with Glowforge by creating some highly demanded projects during such days.
Decorative ornaments, cards, frames, signs, candy boxes, baskets, wreaths, engraved mugs, key chains, customized trays, etc., are some of the creative projects you can try.
Many costumes are used in kindergarten, fashion shows, Halloween parades, etc. Halloween costumes are popular among many and have a high demand.
Face masks, laser-cut designer clothes, polygon objects, boot covers, helmets, child-friendly foam swords, armor, etc., are some most used costume projects.
For these projects, you can mix and match with different materials like leather, fabric, foam, cardboard, paper, etc., to come up with some creative designs.
Laser-cut map projects are mostly made using wood, cardboard, paper, fabric, acrylic, and foam.
You can easily make 2D maps by cutting and engraving these materials. 3D maps require much more effort as you have to make separate designs for different depths and process many more materials.
Glowforge can be used to create these projects by replicating the map of your hometown, state, or country. You can even create a fantasy map.
You can use Glowforge laser machines or other similar laser machines to engrave logos, text, and other designs on natural/synthetic rubbers to make stamps or seals.
You can customize and sell these rubber seals for offices, schools, stores, parks, etc.
Leather is a flexible, long-lasting natural material. When processed using a laser, it shows good contrast.
It can be cut or engraved using Glowforge for many different projects like bracelets, charms, wallets, collars, purses, key chains, doorstops, belts, backpacks, coasters, patched caps, knife handles, luggage tags, watch straps, etc.
With the looks of glass and properties of plastic, acrylic is an interesting material to work with.
3D maze, signboards, edge-lit illusions, lampshades, guitar picks, display boxes, pendants, earrings, transparent circuit covers, trophy/awards, wall arts, etc., are some of the projects you can work on with a Glowforge.
Where can you find templates for your projects?
A lot of websites offer free templates that you can use for your projects. Some of them are:
If you are running a business, avoid using licensed images or designs of characters from animated movies made by leading production studios such as Warner Bros, Disney, DC Comics, Marvel, etc.
These big-name studios are known to crack down on such projects as they consider it a violation of their copyright.
Paid/licensed project templates are ones that you pay to use. Here you can find more creative and original ideas, but it comes with a price.
Following are some of the popular websites where you can find paid/licensable templates:
Remember, some licenses may be of limited use and can't be used for multiple projects. In such cases, you need to get a license for each instance.
Where Can You Sell Your Laser Projects?
The best way to sell your projects is through stores like Etsy, Amazon, Way Fair, Simply Cut Art, etc. These websites already have a well-established global customer base that demands laser-cut projects.
If your works have a good local demand, that too is a good option. Once you start selling to them, you'll get to know which projects have high demand, and you can work around that to make some good profit.
Once your products have good demand, you can set up your online store through Shopify or other platforms that help you take orders online, this in turn helps you build a large pool of customers.
To be successful, you have to think creatively and make projects that attract more people. The larger your customer base grows, the more will your business flourish.
An Overview of Glowforge Laser Machines
|Glowforge Basic||Glowforge Plus||Glowforge Pro|
|Footprint||38″ x 20.75″ x 8.25″||38″ x 20.75″ x 8.25″||38″ x 20.75″ x 8.25″|
|Material Height||≤2" (without tray)|
≤0.5" (with tray)
|≤2" (without tray)|
≤0.5" (with tray)
|≤2" (without tray)|
≤0.5" (with tray)
|Software||Glowforge Print (free)|
|Glowforge Print (free)|
|Glowforge Print (free)|
|Warranty||6 months||1 year||1 year|
A quick comparison of Glowforge Basic, Plus, and Pro models of laser machines
Glowforge has three machine options Glowforge Basic, Plus, and Pro. All of them have a similar design and can process similar materials.
The Glowforge Basic and the Plus model come with a 40W CO2 laser source, and the Pro model comes with a 45W CO2 laser source.
Also, the Glowforge Pro model has a pass-through feature where you can pass through and work on large sheets of materials up to 1/4″ thick.
The pass-through feature is not available on the Basic and the Plus variants, but some of its users have managed to develop a "pass-through hack".
I recommend you not to do such hacks as such techniques can multiply the chances of you facing a laser-related hazard.
Laser cutting is a contact-less cutting process, so it doesn't apply mechanical pressure onto the workpiece. This helps you process materials without damaging their surface texture.
Glowforge Laser machines can work on materials like wood, fabric, leather, paper, acrylic, Delrin, mylar, rubber, Corian, foods, glass, coated metal, marble, anodized aluminum, titanium, and more.
All models come with an inbuilt air-assist system that You can control through the Glowforge software.
Glowforge Print and Glowforge Premium are the two versions of control software available. Glowforge print itself will surface for most lasering jobs.
Glowforge Premium will be useful for businesses as it offers cloud storage, access to creative tools suite, unlimited free designs, and many more such features.
Looking at the warranty, Glowforge Basic comes with a six-month warranty, and the Plus and Pro versions come with a one-year warranty.
Glowforge provides a good after-sales service, and they also have active community participation across its forum and social media handles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Glowforge cut metal?
Unfortunately, Glowforge can't cut metals. It can only engrave on coated metals. The 40W or 45W CO2 laser used in Glowforge can cut thin metal foils, but it doesn't mean it can cut general-purpose metals.
Can you make a living with a Glowforge?
Yes, you can make a living out of Glowforge if you play it smart. There are many different creative and demanding projects that you can make and sell with a Glowforge laser machine. Some of the demanding jobs are personalized key chains, pet tags, customizing smartphones, tablets, or laptops with custom designs, photoengraving, puzzles, etc.
How much does Glowforge cost?
A Glowforge laser machine will cost somewhere between $4,000 to $7,100, depending on the model of machine you are choosing. The Basic model is priced somewhere around $4,000, the Plus model is priced at around $5,000, and finally, the Pro model of Glowforge has a price tag of somewhere around $7,000. When purchased through affiliates, you can purchase Glowforge at a discounted price.