Cleaning Your Air Assist Fan (Performance Series)

Glowforge Performance Series Performance Series


Getting started

The air assist fan is a black plastic fan on the underside of the carriage plate, below the printer head. It needs occasional cleaning, but all you need is a can of compressed air and these instructions!

Cleaning your air assist fan requires these four steps:

  1. Remove the printer head
  2. Unhook the driver belt
  3. Remove the carriage plate
  4. Spray the fan with compressed air

We’ll walk you through it.

Remove the printer head

Start by removing the printer head so you can access the carriage plate.

  1. Before you clean anything, turn off your Glowforge and unplug it.

  2. Remove the printer head

    Holding only the finished black surfaces, grasp the printer head as shown. Pull gently up and back to disengage the magnets and remove the head.

    A hand lifting the Glowforge print head off of the carriage plate it rests on inside the Glowforge

  3. Unplug the wire ribbon

    Push down fully on the wire ribbon tab, then gently pull the wire ribbon to unplug it. Tuck the wire ribbon into the laser arm.

    A hand unplugging the wire ribbon from the Glowforge print head

  4. Place the printer head aside. You won't need it for the rest of this process.


Unhook the driver belt

Next,  unhook the driver belt so the carriage plate and belt come off as a unit.

  1. Center the carriage plate

    Gently slide the carriage plate to the center of the laser arm so it’s out of the way.

  2. Locate the laser arm pulley

    Reach under the laser arm on the right side and find where the black belt engages a round pulley beneath  the laser arm.

    An image showing the belt pulley located on the underside of the Glowforge laser arm, on the right-hand side.

  3. Remove the belt from the laser arm

    Place your thumb between the belt and the laser arm, near the pulley. Push down on the belt while sliding it to the right towards the pulley. The belt will slide off of the pulley. Don’t be afraid to use pressure.

  4. Unhook the belt from the motor on the left side


Remove the carriage plate

You’re now ready to remove the carriage plate and access the air assist fan.

  1. Grasp the carriage plate as shown

    Place both index fingers on the rear corners of the plate and both thumbs on top of the front wheels. Use your other fingers to support the plate.

    An image showing two hands grasping the front of the carriage plate that the Glowforge print head rests on.

  2. Pull the plate toward you

    While keeping the laser arm stable with your thumbs, use your index fingers to pull the plate towards you as far as it will go.

  3. Push the plate down and back to disengage

    Push down with your thumbs to angle the plate down and toward the back of the Glowforge until the plate pops off of the laser arm.

Clean the fan

See the black plastic fan on the underside of the carriage plate? This is the air assist fan.

An image of the air assist fan, located on the back of the carriage plate behind the two large v-wheels.

You can clear debris or build-up with a can of compressed air.

If the fan is damaged, has build-up that can't be removed, or doesn't spin freely, we recommend replacing it. The fan is part of the carriage plate assembly, which is available in our shop here.

Putting it all back together

Once you’re finished, replace the carriage plate and try a test print. This takes three steps:

  1. re-attach the carriage plate
  2. re-attach the driver belt
  3. replace the printer head and crumb tray

Re-attach the carriage plate

Start by re-attaching the carriage plate.

  1. Unwrap the belt and hold the carriage plate as shown

    Place your index fingers on the back corners of the carriage plate and your thumbs on top of the front wheels (the same position you used earlier). 

    An image of two hands holding the carriage plate. The belt is resting on the same side of the plate as the wheels, with the teeth pointing inwards.

  2. Hook the plate back on the laser arm

    Hook the rear wheels on the groove under the laser arm. The front wheels should be mostly visible.

    The carriage plate being held under the laser arm, with its back wheels hooked behind the back side of the laser arm.

  3. Pull the plate forward and up to engage

    Pull the plate forward until the front wheels clear the laser arm, then angle the plate up until the wheels are in line with the rail. Release the plate. It should firmly grasp the rail.

Re-attach the driver belt

Next, you'll re-attach the driver belt to the left and right sides of the laser arm.

  1. Pick up the right side of the belt

    Make sure the belt is not twisted or inside-out. The outside of the belt should be smooth and the inside should have ridges.

    A hand with the index finger through the loop of the carriage plate belt, pulling the belt to the side.

  2. Re-attach the right side 

    Hook the belt onto the pulley located on the laser arm's right underside.

  3. Attach the belt on the left side of the laser arm

    Using your left hand, set the belt on the front half of the motor (the silver piece on the left-hand side below the laser arm). Use your fingers to support it by placing them under the motor. The belt will not be fully on the motor. Use your left thumb and fingers to clamp the belt firmly in place and apply pressure.

    An image of one hand grasping the laser arm, with the thumb on top of the arm and fingers pressing upward on the pulley on the underside of the arm.

  4. Guide the belt around the pulley

    Still holding the belt and motor firmly with your left hand, use the pressure from your left fingers to guide the belt clockwise around the pulley as your right hand slowly pushes the carriage plate to the left. The belt should roll onto the pulley until it is secure.

  5. Check the range of motion

    Gently slide the carriage plate back and forth on the laser arm to ensure that it travels smoothly. If it doesn’t, remove the plate and try again.

Replace the printer head and crumb tray

Return the printer head and crumb tray to their locations so you can run a test print.

  1. Carefully pick up the printer head

    Do not touch any part of the printer head that is not flat-black metal. Again, be especially careful of the yellow window on the side of the head and the lens on the underside.

  2. Slide the ribbon into the printer head

    Take the ribbon end from where you tucked it into the laser arm. Make sure the tab on the wire ribbon is facing up. Slide the ribbon into the printer head connector until it clicks.

    A hand plugging the wire ribbon from the Glowforge print head

  3. Attach the printer head to the laser arm

    As shown, lower the printer head over the metal plate so that it rests next to the two round posts. Then push it gently away from you – you’ll feel a “click” as magnets attach the printer head snugly atop the metal plate.

    An image sequence showing a hand placing the Glowforge print head back onto the carriage plate it rests on.

  4. Gently push the laser arm all the way to the back of the bed

  5. Slide the crumb tray back in

    Be careful not to bump the laser head. Little feet on the bottom of the crumb tray should slide into corresponding dimples in the base of the Glowforge, to keep the crumb tray from sliding. If the feet don’t sit in those dimples, the Glowforge camera may not be able to focus correctly, and the camera will be out of alignment.

  6. Close the front door and lid of your Glowforge, plug it in, and turn it back on

  7. Run a test print

    If you can, record a video of your test print so we have as much information as possible if you still have questions or concerns.

If you run into trouble, or if you have any questions for our team, please contact our team with as much detail as possible and we'll be happy to help!

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