Glowforge: The Best 3D Laser Printer?


For every hobbyist, designer, artist, prototype expert, engineer, or any other professional related to practical models, a laser cutter and a 3D printer are essential. The Glowforge 3D laser printer is one of those machines that offer all-in-one services for such artists.

The machine is the greatest personal laser cutter and engraver for personal and small-scale commercial use. It is reliable, cost-effective, and provides the best value for money.

In this article, we’ve written the ultimate review of Glowforge and proven to you why it’s the best choice for those related to practical modeling work.

Stay with us, and let’s dive in!

What Is Glowforge?

Glowforge is a company that manufactures two-in-one laser cutters and 3D printer machines for practical modeling-based professionals. It’s one of those few companies that offers a laser cutter, an engraver, and 3D printing machines for personal use. You can use the Glowforge 3D laser printer for business or commercial purposes, but the company has designed and optimized the engine for home and personal use.

The machine comes in three variants: Basic, Pro, and Plus.

The machine is marketed as a Glowforge laser printer, but it’s not only a laser printer; it’s a complete modeling solution for artists. Below is a detailed explanation of how it works.

How Does The Glowforge Printer Work?

The Glowforge 3D laser printer has two printing modules.

1. Laser Cutting Module

The machine comes with a laser beam module that precisely cuts almost every material that falls under the Corning Gorilla score of 5. It means that you can easily cut wood, non-tempered glass, PVC, thin iron, paper, cardboard, fabric, aluminum foil, edible foods, etc.

The machine is so precise that it can differentiate between a distance of 0.01 mm (microscopic level), which indicates that it has a minor count of 0.01 mm. You might need to know fundamental physics to understand this statement.

2. Laser Engraver

Besides cutting, the Glowforge 3D laser printer also comes with a laser engraving module to engrave your desired characters and designs on different objects.

However, note that the basic version of the machine is equipped with a mono laser that can only read black and white color prints. 

The Pro version supports three modules: red, green, and blue. Therefore, in the Pro version, you can make as many colorful engravings as you like. If you don’t know what RGB is, please read how RGB works.

The machine works by heating the top surface of the material enough that some molecules from that surface vaporize and leave permanent burn marks on that area. That burnt mark on the surface is your engraving, which is permanent and not fixable.

The module uses a MOBA fiber RGB ink with the Pro version and burns it on the engraving section. The result is what we call “color laser engraving.”

Can You 3D Print With Glowforge?

Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a 3D printer that prints the object in a third dimension, Glowforge doesn’t do that. Glowforge is a 3D laser printer and not a 3D printer. Both sound the same, but the working process of both devices is entirely different.

Glowforge vs. 3D Printer

The Glowforge uses a subtracting process, while a 3D printer is additional. There are some differences between them: Glowforge uses lasers to cut objects in the 3rd dimension, while the 3D printer creates objects in the 3rd dimension. Below we explain why.

3D Printer

The 3D printer uses PVC powder as ink to produce 3D models, art, decorative items, and more. It uses a laser, but it works differently from engraving and cutting. The 3D printing laser only burns the solid PVC into liquid so that the nozzle can place the molten PVC in any desired shape.

The laser heats the PVC until it converts into a liquid molten state. The nozzle then places the molten PVC onto the surface according to your input. It nozzles one layer, waits for it to dry, and prints the next layer on top until the desired height is achieved.

Overall, a 3D printer is additive. It prints and places layers in the object.

Glowforge 3D Laser Printer

Glowforge uses a laser beam to cut objects precisely according to the machine’s input. It lets you cut almost everything except metals above 2 mm, such as wood, plastic, glass, PVC, rubber, iron (under 2 mm), leather, fabric, etc.

The machine is highly flexible, and the laser beam offers super-strong energy that can engrave almost anything under its beam.

Overall, Glowforge uses a subtractive process. It cuts and creates things.

Comparison Table

DetailsGlowforge 3D Laser Printer3D Printer
Type3D laser cutter3D printer
Working processSubtractiveAdditive
UsesCutting, engraving, precise cutting,Printing 3D objects

What Is The Difference Between Glowforge And A 3D Printer?

We already mentioned that Glowforge is a 3D laser printer and not a 3D printer. For a quick recap, below are the main differences between a Glowforge 3D laser printer and a regular 3D printer:

  • Glowforge is not a pure laser printer, although it is a 3D laser printer.
  • Glowforge uses a laser to cut things; the 3D printer uses molten PVC to create something.
  • The printer’s process is subtractive, and it cuts things. The process of a 3D printer is additive. It creates objects.
  • Glowforge cuts only flat surfaces. On the other hand, a 3D printer can easily make any irregular item (in height).
  • Glowforge cuts leather, fabric, glass, iron (up to 2 mm), PVC, leather, etc. 3D printers only create objects by melting PVC powdered ink.

How Long Does A Glowforge Last?

The life of the Glowforge depends on the laser module as it’s the most essential and used mechanical component in the printer, along with its moving mechanism. Other types of machines can last for decades if you use them carefully and clean them regularly.

The mechanical parts, such as the laser beam and moving mechanism, are physical components and can run out at some time. However, they are not going to run out any sooner. With proper usage and correct cleaning, they can last for at least 15-20 years.

The machine uses gas laser technology, which works through electric semiconductors. It doesn’t involve any gas or dye. Due to these components, it won’t run out any sooner. If appropriately used, gas laser technology can last for at least 18–25 years.

Progetto senza titolo 2021 12 15T010446.164

What Type Of Laser Is Glowforge?

The Glowforge uses gas-based lasers, which are entirely based on electrical currents. It doesn’t involve any physical materials such as SSL, dyes, or fibers.

How Do Gas Lasers Work On The Glowforge 3D Laser Printer?

Gas lasers are powerful and highly energetic, enough to cut and burn metals quickly. The gas laser consists of a gas molecule: He-Ne (helium and neon mixture). This mixture can excite the unit of light, photons.

The module is packed into a small cylindrical tube, narrowed on both sides. A current of light is passed through the tube filled with He-No gas. The atoms of He-No excite those atoms and convert the current into a bit of light, a photon. That photon then travels to the other end, but it reflects the cylindrical due to the low energy in that photon.

The atoms of He-No again excite the photon and energize it, and the process continues until the photon is energized enough to escape through the cylindrical.

When the photon escapes from the cylinder, it is highly energized. The photon heats enough that it can rip and burn anything apart that comes in its way.

That’s what we call “laser cutting.”

How Does A Glowforge 3D Laser Printer Make You Earn Money?

You can make money from Glowforge by offering custom laser cutting and custom laser engraving to customers. Since the machine boasts these features, you can easily make money by providing two services.

There’s a massive demand for print-on-demand items in the world. You can offer your custom engraving and cutting services on e-commerce platforms to get customers. You can do it offline, but e-commerce will be best for it.

However, note that if you’re an e-commerce seller, you need to source the basic material on your own. Wood, cloth, and PVC are perfect for it. You can offer to engrave or cut on anything; boxes, keychains, custom-shaped boxes, standard engraving, etc.


Whether you’re a professional modeling artist, an engraver, or want to step into the print-on-demand business, the Glowforge 3D laser printer gets you covered.

The machine is the best small, compatible, personal laser cutter and engraver for personal use. Still, you can also use it commercially for business purposes on a small scale.

The machine is highly reliable, cost-effective, and provides 100% value for money. You might consider purchasing the Glowforge 3D laser printer to boost your e-commerce business and career!

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