3D printers are great inventions, there’s no doubt about it, but they have one drawback, besides their big price that is, and that’s the fact that you are usually limited to plastic as material. But there’s a new player on the block that might steal your manufacturer heart away – Glowforge.
Described as a 3D laser printer, a more accurate to Glowforge would be that this is a very precise laser cutter. Glowforge uses a beam of light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and shape designs from a variety of materials, including wood, leather, acrylic, fabric, cardboard, paper and many others.
This is actually a super smart printer (probably that’s why it costs $2000) that uses onboard cameras which can cut and engrave directly over top of your drawing. You can also scan drawings and resize, clone, personalize and edit them right in Glowforge software. Furthermore, the camera shows the actual material on the Glowforge bed allowing you to drag around your design with your mouse or finger in order to obtain a very accurate preview.
The printer also comes with 3D autofocus which means the lens moves as the laser travels, allowing you to cut and engrave materials that are curved, uneven, or irregular. For those interested, there’s also a Glowforge catalog which lets you buy and print default designs. You can work with Glowforge from your Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows or Linux computer with JPG, PNG, PDF, EPS other file types from software like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk and Sketchup.
Glowforge comes with a regular household outlet and connects to WiFi. This is a very precise device, as its dual cameras align the laser head with the frame, and the laser is capable of removing a hairsbreadth of material. The 3D high-res engraving allows you to engrave complex, three dimensional curves with 1,000 DPI resolution.
The Glowforge currently retails for $1,995 on pre-order, but this will last only for a month. After this, you will have to shell out as much as $4000 if you want to enjoy its advanced technologies.