Glowforge laser printer

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Tim
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by Tim » Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:23 am

swbluto wrote:I wonder, what's the primary difference between this and any other 40w laser cutter? I mean, /other/ than marketing techniques. Things like functional differences, reliability, etc.
Well, for the one you point to on eBay, I can't find any information about beyond the eBay page (I didn't spend hours looking, though). It only says in one place that the brand is "Tek Genius", and I can't find any reference to that in a Google search. What do you do when something on it breaks? At least the marketing approach also comes with some kind of support. It may be yet unknown just how good or bad the support is, but presumably it exists.

Not to mention the eBay listing is by "Serious Wholesaler", whose list of store categories includes ignition coils, oxygen sensors, and sex toys. Huh?

Anyway, I think the fair comparison is between, perhaps, the Epilog Zing 24 and the Glowforge. The Epilog is the "professional" laser cutter with the established credentials, the kind of machine that you can't find a price for because it is sold only through distributors who all say "call for a quote". However, it appears to run in the roughly $10,000 range. I saw them at last year's World Maker Faire and it seemed so out of place there; I mean, the technology was right up the Maker alley, but the price range and proprietary everything. . . no. The Glowforge looks like one of the first to bring the price down to the consumer product < $2000 level. Presumably others will follow, and it seems like a market to pay attention to. Which is why I'm waiting to hear what Jules has to say about it.

BTW---The "othermill" (which I also saw at last year's World Maker Faire) just got featured in Make magazine's latest issue.

swbluto
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by swbluto » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:24 am

So, the primary difference is one's a namebrand and the other isn't. Well that's a world of difference, lol.

It would be a little surprising if there isn't an "American namebrand" for all these chinese laser cutting machines. I guess Glowforge just happens to be the first; I didn't realize how nascent the market was.

Well, that's always good. Newcomers to the chinese importing business, creating American namebrands in markets where none previously existed.
Last edited by swbluto on Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

jsc
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by jsc » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:26 am

Just based on their promotional materials, I think what really differentiates the Glowforge is the software and their dual cameras. The Chinese cutters have uniformly awful Chinese software, just enough to let you feed in vector art and power/feedrates. They will do the job, but just having looked at lots of Youtube reviews on them, there's also a lot of manual calibration and shoddy wiring involved. The Glowforge software is designed to make everything much easier, including cut/etch over drawings, align cuts over live video, auto-align cuts to do things in multiple passes, autofocus over curved surfaces, auto adjust for kerf, get Z resolution by refocusing, calibrate itself for power settings on unknown materials, etc. That seems pretty powerful. I'm hoping it lives up to the promise.

All the heavy lifting is done in the cloud, which is not ideal, but lowers the price. Plus, they've said they will open source the firmware so if they go under you're not left with a brick.

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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by swbluto » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:34 am

So it's primarily a software offering. That's extremely heartening to hear - seems like a fair price premium over a chinese equivalent.

That's not very surprising, considering that it's coming out of one of America's two software capitals, Seattle. I happen to be located near the area, and I'm a software guy myself, so I might be a little biased. :lol:

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Jules
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by Jules » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:00 am

Personally, I both like and dislike the potential for that optical alignment method. It's going to be fine for cutting, but I've got some slight concerns about visually aligning a cut object for engraving or embossing purposes.

A couple of the cutters that we used had a really snappy little 3-point optical eye for alignment. It hunted down 3 registration marks on a plane, and then performed the cut based on where you placed the cutlines and/or image inside of those registration marks.

It was always right on the money. Another cutter used human intervention to line up the marks, and the results were not nearly as precise. It's not that easy to line something up visually.

So I'll be interested to see how this works out too.

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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by jimc » Thu Oct 01, 2015 12:34 pm

On the promotional side of things just keep in mind that this whole project is backed and partially run by bre pettis and jenny lawton. Both of which are know for smoke and mirrors, empty promises and marketing hype. Not saying this cutter is another makerbot. Just want to make everyone aware so they are on their toes.

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Tim
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by Tim » Thu Oct 01, 2015 1:09 pm

swbluto wrote:So, the primary difference is one's a namebrand and the other isn't. Well that's a world of difference, lol.
But isn't that the way it always goes? First somebody gets in the business at the high end, figuring out how things work, putting a lot of money into research, and then selling the first results to the government or military at a high price, because that's the only way to recoup the research costs, and the government and military can afford to pay the high prices for new and developing technology. The company will then keep the prices high for as long as they're the only major player in the market. Eventually some patents expire, competitors come into the market at a tenth of the price, and eventually the technology becomes widely adopted and commonplace. It's no different from when the only 3D printers were made by companies like 3D Systems and cost upwards of $20K, and it stayed that way from the late 1990s until only about five years ago.

There are three types of players here, though, represented by (1) Epilog, the expensive name brand, (2) some unknown Chinese manufacturer, and (3) Glowforge, the inexpensive (by comparison, at least) name brand. Just by technical specifications, they all seem to be about the same. Number (2) has no particular sales channel, but will probably end up with one eventually, as soon as somebody figures out that there is a large enough market for it in the U.S. and bothers to translate all the manuals into English. The eBay offering looks less like a sales channel and more like a bunch of machines that were ordered for a big job that fell through, got put on a pallet and sold cheap in a fire sale.

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willnewton
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by willnewton » Thu Oct 01, 2015 2:46 pm

Swbluto, nice to see a fellow endless-sphere member!

Most of your questions could be answered in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R3mMUsHFvU
I'm finally back to where I started two days ago!

A thread with some stuff in it I update every once in a while. viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9
See some of my stuff http://www.thingiverse.com/willnewton/about

jsc
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by jsc » Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:39 pm

You're into ebikes?

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Jules
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Re: Glowforge laser printer

Post by Jules » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:06 pm

jimc wrote:On the promotional side of things just keep in mind that this whole project is backed and partially run by bre pettis and jenny lawton. Both of which are know for smoke and mirrors, empty promises and marketing hype. Not saying this cutter is another makerbot. Just want to make everyone aware so they are on their toes.
Agreed, most emphatically! And while I'm sure they might start shipping a handful of units in December 2015, I'm going to be shocked if most people see their units before late next year. There are always issues with gearing up production, the inevitable miscommunications with the Chinese manufacturers, quality control issues (which i sincerely hope they are on top of), and a whole lot of other teething issues.

It's always risky to get in at the start of a "new" thing that has the potential for mushroom growth. I participated in the launch and development of a couple of machines, from the prototype testing, the fine tuning, through the manufacturing, the release, the explosive sales that no one was expecting, the rush to catch up with the documentation, the training of end users who had no idea what they were doing, the software bugs, the quality control and product returns......... And this one for the laser cutter is going to be a HUGE mess to start with. Because of the high demand - all of that is going to happen at once.

:lol: (Okay I'm actually laughing at myself now because I had forgotten all of that and i swore at the time i would never put myself through that again....and here i am. Jumping right smack into the start of things......again! ROFL!)

The one thing they do have going for them is that it is established technology that has been around for a while. It was the same with the craft cutters - they were nothing more than re-purposed vinyl cutters that had been used in the sign-making industry for years. So the machines themselves were very stable, even if we were making them do something they weren't designed to do originally. How they were used had to be rethought, based on what we were making them do, and new software was needed, to make it easy enough for the general public to use. But the machines themselves didn't cause a lot of trouble.

If this laser cutter thing follows the same pattern, and finally catches on with the public, you can expect the first couple of years to be kind of quiet while they work out the kinks, then it's going to literally explode as more competing laser manufacturers jump in to grab a piece of the pie. They will all essentially be the same machine, there will be slight differences in the bells and whistles software-wise, but the basic principles will remain the same across the machines. Eventually, the machines that don't work as well will shake out, and the ones that remain, in a much reduced capacity, will be the well-built ones that are easy for the public to use. (So there will be other opportunities to get into this down the road, and probably a lot cheaper too.)

It is fun to watch a "new" industry kick off though, and if i can manage to keep out of it personally this time, I'm looking forward to it. :D

What interested me about this one, as opposed to the others already available, is that it looks like they have thought out some of the "user-interface" issues and plan to keep control of them. That actually is going to make it easier to sell, and make it a lot easier from a quality control standpoint. (If they need to run through a software update, they just have to do it once, since they control the software, and if they need to roll it back because it's got a couple hundred bugs they didn't anticipate, they can just do it without having to talk every end user through the process.)

I also want to see how good that software is - it caught my interest. (I can just about guarantee I will test its limits very thoroughly. ;) )

We'll see what happens. I wouldn't race to get into this one if you are at all hesitant about it. It's still got some serious shaking out to do.

(And as soon as the 3D printing industry hits that point - watch out. Not there yet. Needs to be scaled down first and made much easier for Joe Q. Public to use. People aren't lazy or stupid, but most don't have time for the learning curve needed to use these machines. Figure out a way to mechanize it, create drop in cartridges that print out pre-designed items in their colors of choice, and in the size they want, drop the price of the printers, and then make a fortune selling the cartridges of files, the plastic, and the branded accessories. As a business model.....it works. Most people don't want to spend hours designing and tinkering - they want a cool gumball machine. 8-) )

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