Check the Filter Cartridge


Lasers like your Glowforge require ventilation. The cartridge in your Glowforge Air Filter cleans the exhaust, so you can use your Glowforge while not having to vent through a window. The Glowforge Air Filter is designed to allow you to safely and comfortably operate your  Glowforge printer indoors. When you’re making magical prints with your Glowforge, it’s normal to have a small amount of odor during printing and when you open the lid (remember to wait until the fan stops) once a print is complete.

However, if you have trouble with smoke and fumes (a strong, unpleasant, or irritating odor) while using the Glowforge Air Filter, it may be time to replace the cartridge.

Filter cartridge life

It is difficult to estimate how often you’ll need to change your filter cartridge because it depends on a number of dynamic factors, such as: the material you use, how often you print, and whether you are mostly cutting or engraving. For example, light users may go a year between filter changes, while heavy users may replace the filter every month or so. Acrylic typically fills the filter very slowly.  Hardwoods aren't very taxing but plywood might be, depending on the glue.

Note that we have only tested, and can only recommend Proofgrade™ materials. Materials from other sources may work just as well, but some materials may clog the cartridge almost immediately. MDF products (including Proofgrade Draftboard) will dramatically lower your filter cartridge life.

More information about the lifespan of a filter cartridge can be found here.

Follow the steps in this article to check the filter cartridge and determine if it’s time for a new one.

Check the position of the power dial

The dial on the Glowforge Air Filter controls the power to the fan. If the power is too high or too low, your filter will not work properly. If you detect a strong odor while printing, turn the dial towards FULL to increase the speed of the fan.

  • If the power is already set to FULL, skip to the next steps and check the cartridge. 
  • If the power is on NEW or anything less than FULL, turn the knob all the way to FULL, and then try a quick test print to see if that fixed the problem.


Open your Glowforge Air Filter and check the cartridge

If the Glowforge Air Filter power dial is already set to FULL and you detect strong unpleasant odors during printing, it may be time to change the filter cartridge. Follow these steps to open the filter and check the condition of the cartridge:

  1. Turn off and unplug your Glowforge Air Filter. The power switch is located on the back, next to the cord. Turn it off first, then unplug it from the wall.
  2. Open the lid of the Glowforge Air Filter by releasing the four latches, and then remove the lid. 
  3. Examine the condition of the cartridge. When the filter cartridge is full, it can no longer pull smoke and fumes through the pleated top. This can cause a build-up of visible debris on the top. You may also see bends and/or fibers sticking out of the sides of the pleats. Any of these signs confirm that it’s time to replace that cartridge. The build-up of visible debris may look like this:


  4. If you notice any of the conditions in step 3, it’s time to replace your Glowforge Air Filter cartridge. You can order one from the Glowforge shop.

If you run into trouble while working through these steps, or have questions along the way, please contact our team and we'll be happy to help!

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