Is a Glowforge Laser Cutter Right for You?
In April of 2019, I took a step that would change my business and creative process forever - I bought a Glowforge laser cutter! It was a huge investment - after my car, it's the most expensive piece of equipment I own - but it was so hugely worth it. In fact, I was able to pay off my Glowforge Basic many times over within the first year of owning the machine. Owning a laser cutter has allowed me to achieve the precision, freedom, and competitive edge I needed in my handmade business. There are a few brands out there, but I wanted to share why I think the Glowforge was the best choice for me.
1) It's so easy to use!
Before purchasing my Glowforge, I had never used a laser cutter, or even been around one. I was so scared that I was going to be in over my head. But, I was up and running 30 minutes after the machine showed up on my doorstep. After running through the included practice projects, I was making my first products on the machine that very night.
While generic Chinese lasers are tempting for the price and can absolutely be used to create amazing things, I just do not have the time or knowledge to assemble, fine-tune, and troubleshoot a machine with little/poorly-written documentation. I wanted to know that there was a community of users I could belong to and refer to (check out the Official Glowforge Forum and the various Glowforge groups on Facebook), and stateside support should I need it.
Coming from a Cricut vinyl cutter, I had no problem assimilating to the software. Using Proofgrade material with a proper file makes creating a breeze - it takes the guesswork out of settings, ensuring a great cut every time. Of course, using your own non-Proofgrade material is easy too!
2) It's affordable
The Glowforge Basic is $2495 (as of January 2020). That might seem like a crazy investment for a fledgling business, but, as I mentioned before, I earned my money back in no time. Let's compare the 40w Basic with some competitors:
Dremel Digilab 40w laser starts at $6499 (this was my second choice and seems to be the most comparable to the Glowforge!)
Boss LS-1416 50w starts at $3997 (this one is nice as it's a little bit stronger, but kinda looks like it belongs in the garage and has a smaller cutting area than the Glowforge. It's got some nice customization options such as a rotary attachment, but it'll cost you [$600!])
Muse Desktop Laser starts at $2749, which seems like a great option until you realize that adding a camera (included with the Glowforge) is an additional $2250, bringing you to $4999.
3) It fits into my lifestyle and home
I don't have a workshop or huge studio - I work out of a spare bedroom in the second floor of my home, right down the hall from our room and my baby's nursery. I needed a piece of equipment that could sit on a desk and not take up a huge amount of real estate - the Glowforge was the perfect fit. My husband and I were able to carry it up the stairs and get it assembled with ease. It's a great choice for apartment living and RV traveling - there are quite a few Glowforgers who take their businesses on the road!
It's safe to use around my family, which is a huge plus for me, and it looks great too. While cosmetics are the least of my concerns, it doesn't hurt to have a sleek, shiny machine across from my desk.
I hope that helped make up some minds about this incredible machine. Please don't hestitate to reach out if you have any questions!
If you found this blog post helpful or inspiring, please consider using my Glowforge Referral link when purchasing your machine; you'll save $100-$500 on the machine of your choice and I'll get a few dollars myself to go toward materials and creating additional content :)