Before you start
Improperly operating the Glowforge unit can cause fire, eye, or skin injury from laser exposure, or exposure to chemicals that may be health hazards. These can result in serious injury or even death.
- Read this section before using your Glowforge printer, and ensure everyone else who uses it reads this too.
- Always follow all instructions in this section and in the Glowforge App.
- Children require the supervision and assistance of an adult at all times.
- Do not use your Glowforge printer while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Lasers are subject to regulations and standards, particularly when installed in an educational institution or place of work. Ensure that you comply with all applicable rules.
- Do not touch the head or arm of the Glowforge while the power is on. If you do so by accident, turn it off, then back on again to prevent the possibility of damage.
- Parts of this product are made of glass that could break under impact. Should that happen, be careful to avoid injury by broken glass pieces.
To reduce the risk of electric shock or fire:
- Do not try to service, repair, or modify the Glowforge.
- Never try to access the wiring of the Glowforge.
- Do not open the power supply or any other sealed portion of the Glowforge.
- If the Glowforge is damaged, unplug the power cord and contact Glowforge Support immediately.
- In the event of any emergency or malfunction, unplug the power cord on the back of the unit.
- Use only a properly grounded outlet with least 800 watts available.
- The power cord is intended to serve as the disconnect device. Make sure the outlet is near the equipment and easily accessible, so you can unplug the unit if needed.
- The maximum rating of the circuit breaker (also known as an over-current protective device) on the circuit feeding the outlet should be 15 amps.
The Glowforge laser cuts and engraves with a beam of high-intensity infrared light. The laser can generate extremely high temperatures in the material being cut or engraved. Under some circumstances, it is possible for the material inside the Glowforge to ignite and for the flame to spread outside of the area being cut or engraved. If ignited, the flame could destroy your unit and spread, potentially setting fire to the building.
- Do not put anything inside the Glowforge printer that is not laser-compatible, even if you do not intend to cut or engrave it. Learn more about laser-compatible materials below.
- Do not stack materials; for example, attempting to cut two or more sheets of material at a time. Multiple sheets are more likely to burn.
- Clean out leftover bits inside the Glowforge when it builds up. (See “Cleaning”)
- Do not place things on top of the Glowforge. Do not store things that can catch fire above it.
- Do not store sources of flammable vapors like paint, acetone, gasoline, or alcohol in the same room as your Glowforge. Flammable vapors could be ignited during operation.
- When a print is complete, certain materials, like plastics, can remain hot. Allow them to cool down before you touch them.
Keep watch during operation
- Never leave the Glowforge unattended while operating – always stay within sight. Look inside frequently.
- A small, candle-like flame where the laser beam strikes the material is normal. This flame should move with the laser and should not remain lit when the laser has moved past. If there is a lasting flame inside the Glowforge that does not extinguish when the laser has moved past:
- Pull the plug on the back of the unit.
- If it is safe to do so, extinguish the fire with a wet towel. Note that water may damage your Glowforge.
- If that is not an option, then if it is safe to do so, extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher. Note that fire extinguishers may cause damage to your Glowforge.
- If the fire cannot be extinguished or if it spreads outside the Glowforge, call your local emergency number (for example 911) and evacuate the building.
- Do not operate the printer further until you have contacted Glowforge Support for service information.
Laser Safety for all Glowforge Basic/Plus/Pro series Printers (except where noted)
The Glowforge Basic 3D Laser Printer and the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer are Class 1 laser products which contain an embedded Class 4 laser. The Glowforge Pro 3D Laser Printer is a Class 4 laser product. The laser in your Glowforge emits enough infrared light to cause instant skin and eye injury, or start a fire. This infrared laser light is invisible. The Glowforge unit has a case and glass lid which block harmful levels of infrared and ultraviolet light to allow you to operate the laser safely.
CAUTION! Use of controls or adjustments or performance of procedures other than those specified herein may result in hazardous radiation exposure.
Do not use if glass or case are damaged or modified
Any damage or modifications could allow dangerous contact with moving and/or electrical parts, and/or allow infrared and ultraviolet light, heat, smoke, and fumes to escape.
Safety interlock switches on the front door turn off the laser immediately if they are opened. Do not place magnets near the lid or doors as they can interfere with the switches. Do not try to defeat the switches.
Do not modify or service
CAUTION ! Attempting to modify or service the Glowforge may result in hazardous laser light exposure.
To reduce the risk of injury:
- Do not attempt service. All service must be performed only by the Glowforge factory or by factory-authorized technicians.
- Do not attempt to alter or modify the unit.
- Only use the front door or top lid to open the case. Do not try to open the case any other way, such as by drilling holes, removing fasteners, or removing coverings.
- Do not try to disassemble or open sealed portions of the Glowforge, including any protective coverings or housings.
- If the crumb tray is removed, use extreme caution to ensure that the laser only strikes laser-compatible material, and does not touch the metal bottom of the unit which could cause a reflection and damage the unit.
Glowforge Pro Only: Class 4 Laser Safety & LSO Training
Because the Glowforge Pro has pass-through slots, it is a Class 4 laser device. For safe operation, a Class 4 laser device should be operated under a laser safety program under the control of a Laser Safety Officer (LSO). Training for LSOs normally costs more than $1,000, but Glowforge has worked with leading laser safety training experts to prepare materials so that you can act safely as the LSO for your Glowforge Pro.
These materials will train you to operate your Glowforge Pro in Class 1 conditions, which do not require additional special precautions. If you need to operate your Glowforge Pro in Class 4 conditions, these materials will explain what you must do in order to operate it safely. They will also provide you with an overview of laser physics and safety concerns, and processes to follow.
You must read, understand, and follow the Glowforge Pro Training Materials to use your Glowforge Pro.
Glowforge Pro owners will be able to access LSO Training materials through the Glowforge App during setup.
Smoke and Fume Safety
When you use your Glowforge, the laser creates visible and invisible aerosols, gases, vapors, and particulates (referred to here as “smoke and fumes”). The smoke and fumes can include carbon monoxide and other chemicals which present health hazards, as well as being unpleasant and stinky. The chemical composition of the smoke and fumes depend on the material being lasered. Smoke and fumes from laser-compatible materials are controlled by exhaust or filtration.
Only operate your Glowforge when it is exhausted to the outdoors or through the Glowforge Air Filter. Failure to exhaust will cause smoke and fumes to escape into the room, presenting a risk of health hazards or death.
If you exhaust outdoors, be sure that the exhaust location won’t be bothersome to neighbors or passers-by, and don’t forget to check your local rules for air quality regulations that may apply to you.
To prevent smoke and fumes from escaping the unit, do not open the lid until the fans stop.
Follow all of the instructions in “Setting Up” carefully.
There may be some odor present while printing. However, if you detect a strong, sharp smell that also causes eyes, nose, or throat irritation, or if there is visible smoke escaping while the lid is closed, stop immediately and re-check your exhaust setup. If the irritation and/or smoke emissions do not abate, discontinue using your Glowforge and contact Glowforge Support.
Pro Users: There may be small openings around the edges of the passthrough slot. This is expected; your Glowforge Pro’s powerful fans will whisk smoke and fumes away into the exhaust hose.
Safety Equipment Be sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and tested in the building as recommended by local codes and manufacturer recommendations.
“Laser-compatible” refers to materials that can be safely processed with the CO2 laser in the Glowforge. Materials that are not laser-compatible may catch fire, emit hazardous smoke and fumes that cannot be controlled by exhaust or filtration, and are a health hazard to you, your neighbors, and your Glowforge printer. For this reason, you must only put laser-compatible materials in the Glowforge.
Glowforge sells a line of Proofgrade materials that are laser-compatible and give top-quality results when used with the Glowforge printer. To learn more about Proofgrade materials, contact Glowforge Support.
Laser-compatible materials from other suppliers
Other suppliers like Inventables.com sell material that they indicate is laser-compatible. If you are uncertain, ask the supplier if the material may be processed safely with a CO2 laser.
What if I’m not certain whether my materials are laser-compatible?
If you aren’t completely sure that your material is laser-compatible, do not put it in the Glowforge.
- Some materials look similar to laser-compatible materials, but are different. For example, vinyl can be mistaken for some laser-compatible materials but emits harmful smoke and fumes.
- Materials may have contaminants, coatings, or additives that are not laser-compatible. For example, certain plywood glues, inks, adhesives, dyes, and paints may not be laser-compatible.
- Some materials can reflect the laser and damage your Glowforge unit. For example, copper and chrome can reflect the infrared laser light.
Materials must fit
Materials that do not fit properly may obstruct operation and result in damage and increase risk of fire.
- Materials must be no more than 21 in (53.3 cm) wide and must not be so long as to touch the end of the Glowforge. Material must be less than ½ in (1.2 cm) tall if the crumb tray is in, or less than 2 in (5 cm) tall if it is removed.
- Materials must not extend past the side of the crumb tray (if it is being used) or the metal bottom of the print area (if not).
- Do not place rolled-up material in the Glowforge. It may be too tall, or unroll during printing, obstructing operation.
Materials must be flat
- Materials must be flat so they rest on the crumb tray.
- While a bulge is acceptable, for example from warped wood, the highest point of the material may not extend more than ½ in (1.2 cm) above the crumb tray.
- Material must never double back on itself, for example curling up.
- Should material curl or bend so it reaches more than ½ in (1.2 cm) above the crumb tray during a print, turn off the power immediately.
- If the material has a protective paper or plastic coating, that coating must be firmly affixed to the material. If it begins to peel off, discard the material and do not print on it.
Uncertified Material Safety
Using unidentified material in your Glowforge
Printing on the wrong material or with the wrong settings can result in fire, toxic fumes, and damage to your Glowforge.
Any resulting damage caused is not covered by your warranty. Your Glowforge can automatically detect Proofgrade materials that have been tested for laser compatibility. All other materials must be verified by an expert to ensure that they are laser-compatible.
Plywood Plywood is sometimes made from materials that release irritating, toxic, or corrosive fumes during printing that could harm you or your Glowforge. These include the glue which binds the wood together, the chemicals added to provide weather resistance, and surface finishes to improve the plywood’s appearance. In addition, some plywood is prone to catching fire, which could be hazardous to you, your Glowforge, or your surroundings.
Hardwoods Hardwoods are sometimes coated with stains or finishes that can release toxic or corrosive fumes during printing that could harm you or your Glowforge. Some species of hardwoods can create fumes or dust that is irritating or triggers allergic reactions. Some hardwood is prone to catching fire, which could be hazardous to you, your Glowforge, or your surroundings.
Plastics Some plastics like acrylic and acetal are laser-compatible; many more, like vinyl, PVC, ABS, and HDPE can melt or release toxic or corrosive fumes that could harm you or your Glowforge. It can be difficult to tell the difference between types of plastics. Even with laser-compatible plastics, some sizes are susceptible to particularly hot, intense, and long-lasting fires, which could be hazardous to you, your Glowforge, or your surroundings.
Leather Leather is sometimes prepared with toxic heavy metals that can be released in the air during the printing process that could harm you or your Glowforge.
Cardboard/Paper Cardboard and paper are extremely prone to catching on fire. They are sometimes prepared with inks or protective chemicals that can release toxic or corrosive fumes during printing that could harm you or your Glowforge. They may have metal staples or fasteners that can redirect the laser beam, causing damage to your Glowforge.
Fabric Fabric is sometimes made from materials or made with dyes and inks that can release toxic or corrosive gasses during printing that could harm you or your Glowforge. Some fabrics are extremely flammable, which could be hazardous to you, your Glowforge, or your surroundings.
Other There is no simple and accurate way to tell if a material is laser compatible without the advice of an expert. Many materials are laser compatible, but many more are not - and the differences may not be obvious or intuitive. It’s your responsibility to verify that any material you use will be safe for you and your Glowforge.
Using manual settings
Proofgrade material is encoded with automatic settings for safe and beautiful results with every print. You’ve entered settings manually, which may have different results. Using the wrong settings can result in fire or damage to your Glowforge. Any damage resulting from problems using manual settings is not covered by your warranty. Watch your print carefully.