“What if you could cut a piece of wood in half by drawing a line on it?”, Glowforge Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro asks in his interview with Tested. That’s the elevator pitch for his company’s eponymous machine: A nearly idiot proof CNC laser cutter and engraver. If you know how to use a pencil and a smartphone, then you know how to operate Glowforge.
Glowforge uses a 40W carbon dioxide laser to engrave and cut (and someday even carve) a variety of materials, from acrylic to chocolate. But you already knew that. What Glowforge does differently is its vision-based and cloud-powered software. All you have to do is use a web app to drag-and-drop your design(s) over an image of your material(s) as they sit on the machine’s 12″x 20″ work area.
You can choose from material-based presets for the laser’s settings or input and save your own. And yes, Glowforge also has a trace mode where instead of using a template file, you’ll just sketch on the material itself and Glowforge will cut over the sketch.
Glowforge works with a variety of image files and software, including AutoCAD, Inkscape, Illustrator and PhotoShop. To sustain its user-friendly approach, Glowforge will also set up an online marketplace where you can download both free and paid templates and instructions for making a variety of objects.
Here’s Tested’s interview with Dan. You can skip to around 10:57 if you want to see Glowforge’s production version in action.
You can pre-order Glowforge on the company’s website. The basic version costs $1,995 (USD) while the one with an air filter costs $2,495. There’s also a $4,495 Pro model that has a 45W laser and better optics, a passthrough slot and software that lets you work on items of indefinite length and an improved cooling system.