What is Glowforge?

The Glowforge is a laser engraver that can cut, engrave, and score a variety of materials, including woods, acrylics, and leather.

The Blake Library has a Glowforge Plus available for you to use and may be reserved for up to three hours each day.

Not sure where to start? Visit the Glowforge Gallery or Free with Premium to explore your options and get inspired!

How To Get Started

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Before using the Glowforge, we expect all users to:

  1. Complete Intro to GlowforgeDuring that session, we will cover the basics like what materials to use, how to make (or buy) a digital file, and how to safely operate the machine. All materials are provided and registration is required.
  2. Sign a Library Liability Waiver. We want you to understand the risk of using a laser engraver to yourself and your property. For anyone under 18, a parent or legal guardian must sign.
  3. Be at least 13 years old. Because the Glowforge requires additional responsibility for yourself and those around you, we ask that users are 13 and up. Anyone under 13 can use the Glowforge with an adult who also meets the above criteria.

Watch this video to get an idea of what you'll learn during Intro to Glowforge!

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The Glowforge is a laser engraver and we expect everyone to abide by our safety protocol for the safety of you and all library visitors. If you cannot follow protocol, we will remove your Glowforge access.

When using the Glowforge:

  • Only use approved materials
  • Always stay within reach of the Glowforge and monitor your print.
  • Press the button to pause if you need to step away
  • Use the air filter for all prints.

We thank you for your cooperation and support as we enforce these rules.

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We recommend using Proofgrade materials. Proofgrade materials are made by Glowforge for the Glowforge and takes the guesswork out of your work. You can purchase Proofgrade Materials from the Glowforge Shop or other craft retailers. 

Blake Library has a small inventory of Proofgrade materials for sale. 

  • Basswood Plywood, Light (12" x 20") - $22
  • Maple Plywood, Medium (12" x 20") - $22
  • Maple Hardwood, Medium (6" x 12") - $18
  • Cherry Hardwood, Medium (6" x 12") - $18
  • Clear Acrylic, Medium (12" x 20") - $20
  • Draftboard, Medium (12" x 20") - $10
  • Natural Leather, Thin (5" x 10") - $15

All other materials require pre-approval before use. We ask that you:

  • Do your research before purchasing! Some materials are toxic and unsafe.
  • Request pre-approval via the Glowforge Material Request online form. 
  • Be as detailed as possible. The more info you can provide, the less questions we'll have to ask and the faster we can approve. 
  • We'll get back to you within five days of receiving your request. 

As a reminder, the Glowforge accommodates materials measuring up to 18” deep, 20.4” wide, and 2” (50 mm) tall. The maximum printable area is about 11" x 19.5”.

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How can I use the Glowforge?

We'll show you! Before using the Glowforge on your own, we'll have you attend Intro to Glowforge. During that session, we will cover the basics like what materials to use, how to make (or buy) a digital file, and how to safely operate the machine. All materials are provided and registration is required.

Once you've received this training, you're welcome to use the Glowforge independently. To do this, visit the Info Desk and we will help get you started.

What do I need before taking Intro to the Glowforge?

Basic computer proficiency is recommended, but all supplies and and materials are provided. You can register on the Library's online calendar. If you haven't previously signed a Liability Waiver with the Martin County Library System, you can do that when you come in for your Intro to the Glowforge session.

I can't make it to Intro to the Glowforge. What should I do?

That's OK! We want to help you get started on the Glowforge, Contact Us and let us know what days and times work better for you. We'll try to set up a custom introduction session that works for you.

Can I reserve the Glowforge?

Yes! You can schedule a time to use the Glowforge in advance. Visit Glowforge Reservation and book up to 3 hours each day.

Can I bring my own materials?

As of August 2023, you're welcome to bring in and use Proofgrade materials without pre-approval. All other materials require pre-approval. We suggest you do your research BEFORE purchasing your material, as some materials are toxic and unsafe when exposed to a laser. When you're ready, submit your materials for pre-approval and we will get back to you within five days.

Staff will verify your materials have been approved when you come in to use the Glowforge.

Is it safe?

Yes! The Glowforge is a desktop laser engraver, so it's designed for hobbyists. The Library uses an air filter to contain and purify any smoke or fumes that are created. That said, we require all Glowforge users to sign a Liability Waiver before using it, just like we do for our sewing machines. Anyone under 18 will need a parent or guardian to sign the Liability Waiver.

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Get inspired!

Depending on your comfort level and design skills, you have a variety of options and there's something for everyone!

Options:

  • Use a project created by Glowforge designers from the Free with Premium collection
  • Design your own file, using the Glowforge Premium tools interface (In-Library Use only)
  • Design your own file, using a variety of software and file types. For more info, visit the Glowforge Design FAQ's.
  • Hand-draw your design and use the Trace tool

We also like websites such as The Noun Project and Freepik for simple, free icons that work well with the Glowforge. 

 

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For more advanced instruction, you can find a wealth of information across the web. Here are some of our favorites.