Glowforge: Is It Worth The Hype?
Are you a crafter or a hobbyist? There is a chance that you've read about Glowforge. Is it really worth it? How easy it is to operate a Glowforge? What does it do? Can you make money off of your Glowforge? What do I need to get started? Have you been thinking of getting a Glowforge? Cloverlane will answer all these questions about Glowforge and what has it done for our shop.
Most common question that we hear is: Can you make money off of your Glowforge?
Yes and No. Mid March this year my wife and I decided to step our games up and start our own business. We're both professional designers. We've worked with big companies in Calgary, AB doing designs and marketing. Economically scared of the pandemic we decided to buy a Glowforge. 3 weeks after purchasing a Glowforge my wife quits her job, I went part time, started creating our own designs to sell, post the hell out of facebook Marketplace, joined tons of groups, promoted the living hell out of our newly established business. we have seen people on these groups having trouble selling. Glowforge alone will not make you plenty of money, it's a combination of software use, creativity, connections and SOCIAL MEDIA. Within that 5 months of having our Glowforge, we've made over $30,000 in sales. It's not a lot by any means, but it is a start. Glowforge is a tool to be successful if you're motivated enough and creative enough.
What Do I Need To Get Started With Glowforge?
Common sense! Well first of, you need a software to do your designs, we personally use Adobe Illustrator as our go to software but there are other softwares out there that you can use for free such as Inkscape or SIlhouette. We suggest to use or learn Adobe Illustrator as it is the most powerful software for designs and vector images.
Second you'll need materials, Glowforge is kind enough to give you a starter kit with a bunch of MDF, Acrylic plastic, Cherry woods and a leather (which we haven't used still), we usually get our supplies from Windsor in Calgary, HomeDepot and Trotec in Calgary. An exacto knife, wood glues, stains, spray paints, clear coat or a finisher, lens cleaner, air duster and many more.
Third would be a space in your kitchen, living room, basement, garage, workshop or office that is well ventilated and a table to put the Glowforge on.
Fourth would be preparation, weather you're new to this or been doing arts and craft or woodworking for quite some time, you still need to prepare yourself for Glowforge. Setting it up is straight forward, you will need a 2.4 internet connection, Glowforge is a cloudbase platform, meaning you wont be able to operate your Glowforge offline (crazy hey?).
How Easy It Is To Operate A Glowforge?
Operating a Glowforge is cut and dry like literally. Upload your PDF. PNG, JPG and hit the magic button, it's that easy!
However the design side of it can be troublesome for others, specially for those who buys their files. You are limited on what you can create, cut or engrave if you don't do your own designs. If you buy files from other designers you'd also have to tweak the design sometimes or might just have some issues with whatever software you use. The Glowforge requires cleaning the lenses every once in a while, we cleans ours once or twice a week for maintenance.
Is Glowforge worth it?
Glowforge offers 3 models, the Basic, the Plus and the Pro. The basic starts at $2,495 (around $3,300 CAD), the Plus $3,995 (around $5,400 CAD) and the Pro $5,995 (a shy of $8,000 CAD!!!). Now these are very expensive machines, specially the Pro model. We're not getting into technical details here, we're going right to the good part.
The Basic model will be good enough to start your business or even as an additional equipment in your shop.
The Plus model (which is the one that we have) has been great for us, for an additional $1,500 you get 12 months warranty, 2x speed and an upgraded hardware. We use our Glowforge to engrave, cut signs, ornaments, and more.
The Pro model however is not worth it in our experience (sold our Pro model) because of how expensive it is, If you have a budget for a Pro i'd say look elsewhere, Bosch and Trotec has similar price point models but 20x better than the Glowforge Pro model.
We've been using our Glowforge for 5 months and we've never had a problem with it, most errors are user error (settings used, materials used, software use). It's worth it if you're willing to do the work, it's constant communication between you and customers, specially for custom artwork. The Glowforge cuts whatever you tell it to cut or engrave, if the user creates their own design then it would be easy, if the user can't make or create their own design or a custom design then you will be limited. Glowforge is a designers game. For us the Glowforge Plus is worth it because we can create our own designs.
Shipping in Canada.
If you're thinking of buying a Glowforge and you're in Canada you also might want to save for Fedex Shipping whatever. In Calgary, AB we paid $400+ for our Glowforge Plus.
What Can A Glowforge Do?
The opportunities are endless with Glowforge, you can make a wooden toy, a sign, engrave on a cutting board, wall arts, wall decor, engrave on woods, rubbers, leather, make a purse, build a house, build a car, build an island, create a robot and more! These are all possible if you have the skills or software to do so. If you plan on buying files or you're limited with what you can do with your software then you might run into some problems later on.
The key on being successful with Glowforge is your software knowledge, your Glowforge does what you tell it to do.
This is where it gets scary to some people, we've heard stories like: Glowforge not cutting, Glowforge stopped working, Glowforge this and that.
We've had ours for 5 months now, and we've never had an issue with it. Plywood not cutting is most likely due to glue spots, voids or wrong settings used. If your machine used to cut like butter and just stopped cutting great it is probably needs a clean up, make sure the air assist is good, check the belts for debris, give the lenses a wipe, clean the material before you cut anything make sure the its free of dust, hair or anything that could cause a tiny bit of flame inside the machine. Their customer supports is also a kind of a no show when it comes to support. They don't have a phone number where you can just call them at and vent, It's only through email, which can be frustrating for most people.
We give the Glowforge a score of 4 out of 5 and here are the reason why.
Glowforge is hands down a great tool for our shop, we've been using it non-stop, we also create our own designs so the design aspect is really easy for us. We've made good money with our Glowforge but it is also a combination of our abilities and our networks. We're giving it 4 out of 5 because of the prices, cloud base platform and customer service. But all in all, Glowforge has been great for us and if you have the creative minds and drive to be successful it should be great for you too. Hope you enjoy this read and if you're thinking of owning a Glowforge I hope this blog helps. If you have any question, don't hesitate to contact us.