The Glowforge 3D Laser Printer

The Glowforge 3D Laser Printer

The Glowforge, a “3D Laser Printer,” will become available for pre-orders today at MakerCon, the Maker Movement professional conference in New York City. During the 30 day pre-order campaign, a Glowforge unit will be available for $1,995, which is half off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3,995.

Glowforge is a well-funded company that hopes to establish the laser cutter as a desktop and workshop companion to the 3D printer.

A video, released before MakerCon, demonstrates the Glowforge proposition to Makers.

Dan Shapiro, the cofounder and CEO of Glowforge, who is speaking in an early afternoon session, is also expected to reveal new Glowforge specs and details to the MakerCon audience, and announce that the first publicly available demonstration models will be available at World Maker Faire New York, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27, on the grounds of the New York Hall of Science, in Queens, New York City. Visitors will be able to draw on a square of acrylic and the Glowforge will then cut and engrave over their drawings to make a keepsake they can take with them. 

Glowforge has dubbed their creation a “3D laser printer,” but Makers will recognize the underlying technology as a CNC laser: using subtractive technology to cut and engrave dozens of materials. Glowforge, which raised $9 million in financing earlier this year, has clearly produced a laser cutter plus: with a host of updates and enhancements, including cloud-based software and compatibility with tablets.

“We quickly realized that we could use these technologies to make Glowforge as intuitive and delightful to use as our favorite smart devices,” Shapiro said in a press release.

At MakerCon, Shapiro will demonstrate how the Glowforge is hoping to make laser cutting easier and more accessible to Makers.

More automated

Once the creator chooses a project and places a piece of material like paper, wood, or leather inside, the Glowforge automatically produces a 3D scan of the material, adapting the design to the material’s measurements. Then the user can preview and make any adjustments on his or her Mac, PC, or tablet. Glowforge’s dual cameras capture the material and render an accurate preview of the final product. Finally the user pushes Glowforge’s single button and the unit runs automatically, using autofocus to achieve accurate depth and position. Typical prints take between two and twenty minutes.

A video, released before MakerCon, demonstrates the Glowforge proposition to Makers.

Make:’s Dale Dougherty recently interviewed Dan Shapiro about the Glowforge. You can watch a video of their conversation below.

Among the additional specifications Glowforge will release today:

  • The $1,995 unit has 40W laser, and has a maximum material size of 12″×20″. A “pro” model will be available that is 45W, has upgraded optics, and a pass-through that lets users work on material up to 20″ wide, but infinitely long, for $3,995.
  • The standard unit’s laser is Class 1, so it’s safe to use in classrooms and at home without further precaution, but the Pro model is Class IV and requires additional precautions like safety glasses.
  • Both Glowforge models are capable of cutting plywood or acrylic up to 0.25 inches on one side
  • Both can also cut and engrave organic materials like hardwoods, leathers, acrylics, plywoods, fabrics, and
    food
  • Stone, metal, and many consumer electronics can also be engraved.

Shapiro has said that he expects that Glowforges will start shipping at the end of 2015.