The Glowforge Basic offers powerful laser cutting and etching in a large work area for a relatively reasonable price. Read our detailed review
- Quite affordable
- Huge Construction Area
- Good Speed and Power
- Ability to etch detailed images on many types of materials.
- Good ventilation is required, or a $1,000 Compact Filter is required.
Laser Cutters are powerful and yet very expensive machines.
For just $2,495 one can lay their hands on a much less expensive laser cutter called the Glowforge Basic. This is as voluminous as its other cousins, the Glowforge Pro and Plus, albeit with a 40W laser which is a wee bit less powerful.
Yet, it’s an excellent entry-level laser cutter, capable of performing quite large jobs with ease at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. So let us check it out.
The only difference between the Glowforge Basic and Glowforge Pro, as far as we can tell, is the pass-through slot, which allows for a limitless engraving length.
In addition, the Pro version can be used constantly for a longer amount of time. With a $2,000 price difference, it’s reasonable to think that some customers will gladly forego these advantages in exchange for a lower price.
A 40W CO2 laser tube is included in the Glowforge Basic. This provides it with excellent cutting power and accuracy. The laser tube was designed in-house by Glowforge. It uses a unique Mode 0′ architecture, which offers it a higher power density.
The Glowforge Basic is a laser engraver and cutter designed for use in the home and office. It works with many types of materials. This includes wood, leather, acrylic, cloth, glass, and cardboard, as well as metals like titanium and anodized aluminum.
When compared to budget laser cutters from China in the sub $2,000 price range, this machine’s capabilities makes it worthwhile. This is especially for consumers who prefer an easy to start system.
This laser cutter is fine for both professional users and small firms. Those searching for a multi-functional and dependable laser cutter.
Basic can cut through half an inch of hardwood with a laser tube of 40W. It features an 11.5″ x 20″ construction area.
Glowforge has also concentrated on improving the Basic model’s safety measures. As well as extending its operating life.
It has a close looped, integrated cooling system using water as a coolant. This eliminates the need for a separate cooler or water pump.
An air compressor is also used by the Glowforge Basic to blow off the gases produced by the laser light. This avoids any sort of burning and lens damage.
The company has also incorporated a full device enclosure to protect the user from the hazardous laser light, gases, and smoke.
The Glowforge Basic comes with an auto-corrected optical gear. This does away with the need for manual correction of the lens.
There is also a perforated base plate that permits efficient heat exchange between the atmosphere and the material.
The Glowforge Basic’s design and user-friendly software has a slick experience. One feels like using a product from Apple.
The hardware is sleek and basic, making it look neater than similar laser engravers in the desktop space. The printer’s body is built using CNC machined sturdy metal, plastic, and glass.
The software is simple to use and makes use of the cloud platform. It comes with an elegant and sleek UI that has numerous functions.
One disadvantage of utilizing an application using the cloud is the complete reliance on an online connection. Yet, there are advantages such as automatic updates to the software. Furthermore, the app works on Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux PCs.
This machine works with many types of materials. Yet, the company suggests using Proofgrade materials. As this allows the machine to tune into the ideal settings for efficient engraving and cutting.
It’s crucial to remember that while the Glowforge Basic can engrave some metals, it lacks the strength to cut through them.
As indicated before, the system is also dependent on an online connection. This may be a deterrent to some potential consumers.
Nonetheless, the Glowforge Basic is an excellent choice for professionals. Someone who needs a laser cutter that is both dependable and simple to operate.
The Glowforge Basic’s specifications are as follows:
- External Dimensions : 965mm x 527mm x 210mm
- Dimension of Air filter : 965mm x 527mm x 178mm
- Depth of Material – Maximum : 455 mm
- Width of Material – Maximum : 515 mm
- Area of Cutting : 495 mm wide / 279 mm deep
- Height of Material – Maximum : 50mm
- Height plus Tray – Maximum : 13mm
- Material Type for : Fabric, Leather, Wood, Paper, Plexiglass, Cardboard, Delrin
- Cutting and Engraving Rubber, Mylar, Sandpaper, Cork, Food, etc.
- Engraving Only : Marble, Glass, Stone, Rubber stamps, Ceramic tile, Titanium, Anodized aluminum, etc.
Software and Connectivity Specs:
- Connections : Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile devices
- File Types : PNG, JPG, PDF, and SVG and other file types
- Wide Angle Camera : Lid Mounted, Complete Print Area View, 0.25″ (6mm) Accuracy
- Larger Camera : Head Mounted, Close Up View with AutoFocus, 0.004″ (0.1mm) Accuracy
- Type of Laser : CO2 Laser – Proprietary CO2 Laser Tube of Glass with non-stop operation of 10,600 nm; 40 watts rating.
- Alignment : Optical system factory set
- Sealed Lens (Optics) : Encased optical path with Windows that can be cleaned and replaced also offers protection.
- Casing : Molded Plastic made with High modulus injection
- Lateral System : Proprietary Extruded Aluminum rails aligned in linear with a v-wheel carrier with belts.
- For Motion : Twin hybrid stepper for Y-axis; One hybrid stepper for X axis
- For Cooling : Circular enclosed internal cooling.
- Assist for Air : Internal without needing external compressor hookup
- Ideal Temperature to Operate : 16℃ -24℃
Setting Up Equipment and Software
To begin, unpack the machine, get off all the tape and brackets that hold the components together for shipping.
Slot in the laser head with the magnetic mount and plug in the rhythm cable to connect it to the moving arm. Next, connect the laser with the power-point and turn it on.
Hold some breath till the button flashes in teal. The Glowforge web app will then lead one through getting the lasers connected online using a Wi-Fi network. Soon after, one can get the system working.
The Glowforge web app is clear and easy to use. It can etch bitmaps and cut vector images, and it has a layer structure. This permits one to arrange numerous cuts and etches simultaneously.
It’s as simple as dragging and dropping to resize designs, and a camera hidden behind the lid gives one a view of the majority of the workspace.
The Glowforge Basic is quite loud as are many other laser cutters. Though the laser is silent, the fans that help keep out the dust and gases generated due to material burning are not silent.
There is the laser’s integrated exhaust with a duct running to the outside. And the Compact Filter’s intake fan. Both of those fans are extremely loud.
Speed of Cutting and Materials
Leather, acrylic, rubber, paper, and wood are just a few of the materials that the Glowforge Basic can etch and cut with ease. All of these materials, as well as ceramic, anodized metal, glass, and stone, can be engraved.
Using the brand, Proofgrade, Glowforge sells custom materials for cutting. These include wood and acrylic types. If one chooses a Proofgrade material, there will be a QR code on the protective layer, which the laser will use to identify and automatically select the default laser settings for the material.
However, this isn’t required; and one can choose from many other laser settings on the basis of the material used and use them.
The Basic burns at about a third the pace of the Pro and has a slightly weaker 40-watt laser, according to Glowforge. Regardless, the Basic performs well in engravings and cuts during testing.
It took less than 25 minutes to cut out the parts of a square and a pair of calipers. It also took little more than an hour to engrave 3 acrylic plates with sample pictures.
More complex and bigger engravings will take more time. Especially if one chooses the HD Graphic option to get better burn clarity.
It is also not uncommon to have burn periods of several hours for engravings of exceptionally large images.