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The Glowforge simplifies laser cutting by moving software to the cloud and making use of smartphone sensors. That both lowers the price and allows for incredible user features that makes the Glowforge extremely easy to use.
So what is the depth of the printer? How thick of an object can you put into it?
You can use the tray that’s included. The tray’s really convenient because it has cutouts for little pieces that fall into it–shake them out like a toaster. If you use that tray then you’ve got a half inch of focusable space. So anything from paper that’s basically zero height all the way to half an inch you can focus. If you remove that [tray], you get an extra inch for a total of one and a half inches. So, spice jar lids we’ve done work great, we’ve done flask bottles that are flat and wide. But you can’t do like a wine bottle or a wine glass. That’s one of the things we get a lot of questions about, that we say “for that, get something like an Epilog or a Trotec”. They’re awesome machines, they’ll do right by you, and some have big rotary things that can rotate your object so you can etch all sides, and they can handle all that z-depth. So that was one of the big things we gave up.
One of the tradeoffs we made, and I think it worked out for the better, is that we’re using an injection molded case. We’re using a very particular plastic that’s stronger and more robust against heat than a typical plastic. That lowers our cost, and it means you get a much more beautiful machine that’s able to reduce cost a bunch of other places. Like, if you use sheet metal, like almost every other laser out there, you end up having to separately route wires, whereas we can actually mold routing into the case. Assembly of laser cutters is usually a matter of people using screws, whereas we have parts that snap together and make assembly much quicker. It’s a huge upfront investment–six digits for the mold. But once we’ve done that, we can make Glowforges that are lighter and easier to ship. Even though shipping’s really difficult, and apologies to all the international readers–we know international shipping’s really terrible right now–it’s way more affordable to ship that size box via FedEx and UPS than if we had made the same thing out of sheet metal.