Cabin fever has gotten the best of me. It’s been what feels like 934 days in captivity. But I think I may have finally licked it. No, not a resolution for Covid. But I do think I’ve found a way to help, maybe make a few bucks and have a whole ton of fun.

Enter the Glowforge. A 3D Lazer engraver/embosser/cutter that I’ve had my eye on for a while. The thing is ridiculous. It will cut nearly anything, engrave at the touch of a button as well as make just about anything your imagination can put out. My son and I have decided to make an engraving business aimed at high school kids. Engraved keychains, LED lights, embossed leather. You name it. Should make for some really cool sports awards, too whenever those get back started again.

What follows is an unboxing but I’ll jump ahead and post what I’ve already made this afternoon in just a few hours.

My first makes on the Glowforge Plus

Unboxing

The instructions at the setup page from Glowforge were amazing. But the box is heavy af. Thankfully, there are also several unboxing videos already up on YouTube outlining the instructions and what other people have gone through. The box absolutely took two people to carry upstairs.

The unboxing was fairly straight forward. However, they tell you in the instructions to save all the packing materials in case there is a problem. Otherwise they charge $250 for new packing materials. This comes with a one year warranty and I also bought an extended warranty through a third-party. So want to make sure I find a safe place for that huge ass box.

Once I got it out of the box and over to my table area, the setup continued with removing all of the packing stuff from inside. If you’ve unboxed any sort of printer or something with moving mechanics recently, you’ll have no trouble. Again, save everything. They made it great and made everything you need to remove bright orange.

Okay, so now we’re getting down to it. Two more steps before I hit the power button. Setting up the exhaust and plugging it in.

My exhaust solution is temporary, since in my research, they mentioned you can really cut down on the fan noise when the laser is going by putting an in-line fan into the exhaust to draw out the smoke and smell. But that hadn’t arrived yet, so I took our upstairs air conditioner port temporarily, and hooked into our window. It’ll work for now. Just need to remove it tonight when the printing is done. The hardest part of the entire unboxing was getting the stupid little exhaust clamp onto the hose.

A plug in later and I was able to fire this puppy up!

Lights… camera… action!

Fairly standard setup that the website walks you through from here. You have to temporarily connect to the wifi on the printer so it can get the settings from you. And then you go off to the Glowforge maker page to start your first print!

They ship along about a dozen pieces of sample materials. Mostly standard draftboard, some acrylic, a piece of leather. I jumped past the “make these three things first” and went straight for my goal today.

My mother-in-law’s 70’th birthday is tomorrow and my first goal was to engrave a photo on draftboard for her of her and her grandson. Would be a great way to get started.

This was more challenging than I thought, and I did have to go through the instructions a few time. There is some Photoshop-jujitsu that you need to do with a photo in order to make it engrave-ready, like switching it to black and white, and playing around with the contrast settings. I’ve bookmarked that page at Glowforge as I’ll likely have to go back. I am no Photoshop guru.

I put the sample piece of draftboard into the printer, held my breath and hit PRINT.

The most satisfying part of all of this is that there is literally only one button on this thing. After about 2 minutes, it started to glow blue. That’s my cue to hit it and start the festivities.

All in all, the smell was noticeable, but not bad. I expect I can light a candle and things would be a little better. Open up the house when it gets a little warmer, too.

The experience was incredible. I’ve used the Cricut before, and the dashboard interface was not quite as intuitive, but that’s probably a learning curve thing for me.

In the end I made about a half dozen projects in the afternoon and my brain is on overdrive thinking of more.

Next few projects I want to try are LED acrylic lamps and make more of these Earsavers to give to our local hospital to help Covid first responders.

All in all, I would absolutely recommend one of these if you can afford it. My hope is that I’ll make enough over the next year to pay it off and maybe profit a bit from it as well.

If you do think about ordering one, please use my referral code and both you and I get a few bucks off!

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