What Can you Cut and Engrave with a Glowforge? Materials & Limitations

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What materials can a Glowforge cut?

Your Glowforge can print objects using hundreds of beautiful materials like leather, acrylic, hardwood, fabric – even chocolate!

Laser-Safe Materials to use with a Glowforge

Materials for Cuts & Engraves:

  • plywood
  • hardwood
  • leather
  • rubber
  • EVA foam sheets
  • acrylic (plexiglass)
  • sandpaper
  • cardboard
  • fabric
  • canvas
  • mylar
  • tile
  • cork
  • food
  • paper

Materials for Engraves only:

  • glass
  • rubber stamps
  • devices (like a laptop)
  • ceramic tile
  • anodized aluminum
  • titanium
  • stone
  • marble
  • corian

What are Proofgrade materials?

Glowforge offers a line of materials that attempt to give you a no-hassle, fuss-free experience for cutting and engraving, called Proofgrade materials. They guarantee that prints on Proofgrade material always work. Each piece has a barcode sticker that will be automatically recognized with what material you’re using and adjust to the preferred settings.

Proofgrade Materials Available:

Glowforge offers acrylics, hardwoods, plywoods, draftboard, veneers, full-grain leathers, and more – and the list is growing all the time. Learn more in our in-depth article on Glowforge’s Proofgrade Materials.

What materials are NOT safe to cut?

Some plywoods and hardwoods emit hazardous fumes when cut, either from the wood itself being burned or the glue that was used to hold together the layers of the plywood. Genuine leather is safe if it’s veg tanned, but not if it’s chrome tanned.

Items you NEVER want to cut with a laser:

  • PVC including Vinyl and Pleather (emits chlorine gas)
  • ABS (emits cyanide gas)
  • HDPE/milk bottle plastic
  • Fiberglass
  • Coated carbon fiber
  • Materials that reflect the laser (Chrome or Copper)
  • PolyStyrene Foam or PolyPropylene Foam

Glowforge Limitations

What’s the max material size a Glowforge can cut?

The maximum cutting size for the Glowforge Basic and Glowforge Plus models is 19.5″ by 11″. If you are using a Glowforge Pro machine, the maximum cutting size is 19.5″ and infinitely long through the passthrough slot. (The passthrough slot is 3/8″ and designed to accommodate materials up to 1/4″ thick.)

How deep can a Glowforge cut?

Glowforge performs well with many materials 1/4″ and less on a single pass. It can accommodate material as thick as 1/2″, but may require multiple passes or flipping the material over.

How deep can a Glowforge engrave?

You can remove the tray and insert objects as thick as 2” (50 mm). It can then engrave the surface up to 0.5”, depending on the material.

Can Glowforge cut metal?

Glowforge can etch some metals, like anodized aluminum, directly. Other metals, like stainless steel, work best if you spray them first with a product such as Cermark.  Glowforge is not equipped to cut or engrave copper, silver, brass, or gold.

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