Your Glowforge uses a wide angle camera to take a picture of the material in your Glowforge. Then, you can use this picture to drag your design into place where you want it. When you’re done with a print, if the print is more than ¼” from where you put it, you may have an alignment problem.
Most alignment problems come from the material being closer or farther from the camera than expected. However, if you have moved your Glowforge, the camera may be improved with calibration.
You can take these steps for the most accurate alignment results:
- Use Set Focus before your print to make sure the software knows just how far the material is from the camera.
- Use material that is not warped or tilted.
- Remove particles from the surface of the crumb tray and the area underneath it. Check the four indentations under the crumb tray and the area underneath the front door of your Glowforge. Check to make sure that, when closed, the front door is not pressing down on the lip of the crumb tray.
- Turn your Glowforge off and on again. Alignment can drift over time, particularly if you bump the head of your Glowforge while removing material.
- If you haven’t recalibrated your Glowforge since you received it, or since you last moved it, recalibrate the camera.
Should you finish all of these steps, and find that you have an alignment error of more than 1/4", please contact us so we can investigate.
Using Set Focus
Set Focus actually measures the distance between the printer head and the top of the material at a spot you choose. This allows the laser to focus precisely during printing. Also, since objects appear bigger when they’re closer to the camera, knowing the precise distance makes the camera image more accurate.
When you use Set Focus, your print will also start faster because your Glowforge will not autofocus at the start of your print.
If you are not using Proofgrade Materials, you do not need to enter the material thickness before printing when you use Set Focus.
Enter the Workspace in the App
Place the material in your Glowforge and wait for the bed image to update.
Choose Gear, then Set Focus
Choose the gear icon in the menu bar, then choose “Set Focus.”
Note: if your Glowforge is Offline, or if a print is already running, this option will be greyed out.
Choose where to Set Focus
Your cursor will now be a red target. Click the spot you plan to print. The preview will be most accurate near where you click.
The printer head will move to the position you chose and the image will adjust to be more accurate, especially close to that point.
Tips for Using Set Focus
- Click at least 1/2” from the edge of your material. Set focus uses a red dot laser to take the measurement of the distance to the surface of your material. If you place the red target too close to the edge of your material, the measurement may miss your material or land on the edge and be inaccurate.
- There is only one Set Focus point at a time. If you chose a new point, it will remove the old one. Opening the lid also erases the Set Focus point.
- The Set Focus point is also used for focusing. The height of the Set Focus point will be used to focus the beam of the laser during printing.
- Using masking on clear or reflective materials. Clear or reflective materials can produce inaccurate measurements. The protective masking on Proofgrade materials like Clear Acrylic helps ensure accurate measurements.
- Manual settings. Sometimes you may want to manually focus the laser to produce a different result. By default, your Glowforge will use the measurement from Set Focus to focus the laser beam. If you prefer to focus manually instead, the value you enter into the settings of each step will be used instead of the Set Focus measurement.
This feature is in Beta and support is only available at this community post.
Each Glowforge unit is tested on a flat surface at the factory. Whenever your Glowforge is moved, the camera may shift slightly. To restore factory accuracy, you can use the Camera Recalibrator.
It prints a grid of markings, takes a picture, then measures its height in multiple locations. This data is combined to make your camera more accurate for future prints.
You’ll need a 12” x 20” piece of material with no markings or stickers. The feature was designed to be used with a flat piece of medium Draftboard, used upside-down (with the sticker side down). It may work with other materials that are the same size and use the same print settings as well, like Proofgrade plywood.
Measuring Camera Accuracy
To measure the accuracy of your camera before or after you calibrate, you can follow these steps.
- Clean the cameras by following step 2 and step 9 in the instructions to clean your Glowforge
- Reboot your Glowforge by turning the power switch on the back off, then on again
- Place a piece of Proofgrade material in your Glowforge
- Download this precision preview test pattern design
- Open the Glowforge App and upload the precision preview test pattern
- Place the precision preview test pattern near the top left corner of the bed
- Change the print step from Cut to High Quality Score
- Click the gear icon, then click Set Focus
- Click the center of the precision preview test pattern
- Print the precision preview test pattern
- When the print is complete, wait for the image to refresh and look at the result
The new image onscreen will show how close the design is to where the print actually appeared. The center of the target should be inside the small circle.