7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying a Glowforge
My husband Kevin and I did a tonnnnn of research before pulling the trigger on our Glowforge PRO purchase. I knew we could make money with it, and he loved the idea of being able to work with his hands, but there were a few surprises the Glowforge had in store for us.
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The Glowforge is big.
I mean, I knew the dimensions of the Glowforge because I stalked the site relentlessly before buying, but it didn't really hit me until it arrived that we needed a separate space for it. I was used to having my Cricut sit on the table (and collect dust), so I guess I just didn't think about oh, the Glowforge can't just go on the table. Oops.
We built a table for the Glowforge a few weeks after it arrived. By we, I mean my husband and his friend built it. We had the Glowforge on a black folding table (from Walmart) in a room with carpet and it was fine, but when we moved it out to the tile, the table wasn't sturdy enough and it moved around when the Glowforge was cutting.
Building the table only took a few hours (I mean, it looked easy enough) and cost less than $100.
Before you order your Glowforge, measure out the space (preferably in front of a window you can vent out of) and visualize how you will set it all up.
There is a learning curve.
If you're technically inclined, know a bit about design, or have worked with a similar machine before, you won't have a single problem getting your Glowforge going. However, if you're like me, and technical stuff makes your brain melt, you will find there is a learning curve when you first get your Glowforge.
The good news is, you can still use the machine even before you learn all the things. The bad news? You're probably impatient and wanting to do super complex designs right now.
Take your time. Learn to crawl before you walk. Do the test cuts as well as the series of “your first cuts”. These will teach you a lot about what the Glowforge can do and how to use it.
Watch Glowforge tutorials and spend some time learning about the machine and how it works before you try to cut a 10 layer design.
There are upkeep costs.
Obviously I knew there were going to be costs associated with owning a Glowforge, but I didn't take the time to sit down and create a plan or map out exactly how much my expenses were going to be.
Mostly, I didn't think about how I'd have to keep up with inventory on products like wood and acrylic. Sometimes the supply chain can be a little backed up, so you've gotta stay on top of ordering. If not, you'll run out of supplies and that will stop your business dead in its tracks.
People will be overly impressed by everything you do.
This is a funny one because the amount of work that I put in to create most Glowforge items was minimal, but people were still SO FREAKING IMPRESSED. Everyone I met wanted to buy one of my keychains (that I made from scraps), or earrings (also from scraps), or really just anything and everything.
See also: Glowforge projects to make with scrap wood
My husband put some real work into the Glowforge. He altered and created files, designed and cut projects with several layers, and made me a beautiful mandala box that I will always cherish. But overall, the amount of work that goes in is so much less than what goes into actual woodworking or creating things by hand, yet the “WOW!” factor is still there.
You can make payments on your Glowforge.
When I first started looking into buying a Glowforge, I was like… there's no way I'm spending $6,000 on something I don't even know if we'll make money with. But the more I looked into it, the more I knew I NEEDED this amazing contraption. Had I known from the beginning that I could buy it on payments, I would have pulled the trigger on the purchase much sooner.
See the post I wrote about how to afford a Glowforge and why it was our best money-maker to date.
Even when I can afford to buy something expensive, I take sooooo long hemming and hawing over the purchase, and so does my husband. When there is that safety net of making payments, I like the option of taking it. I knew we'd make the money back before we had to pay too much interest. In fact, I believe most people can make their investment back in 120 days (or less), as long as they have a solid plan going in.
The kids can help.
If you love the idea of starting a family business but just don't know what will fit best, you've found the answer. The Glowforge is a tool that can take your dreams and turn them into a reality, and the kids can help. I didn't think of how the kids would fit into our laser cutting business, because I saw the machine as this big scary fireball that was too dangerous to touch LOL.
Obviously it depends on their ages but ours are teenagers and they help with almost every aspect of running our businesses, from helping us come up with new ideas that will sell, to packaging up and shipping orders.
If your kids are younger, they can still help with various tasks. Every business we create, we always incorporate the kids into them. I started working for myself when my girls were 5 years, 18 months, and a few weeks old. if I can do it, anyone can.
You can make buckets of money.
I'm not exaggerating when I say the Glowforge is by far the best money-maker I've ever discovered. I've started many businesses, bought many tools, but this laser cutter makes running a business feel like a walk in the park.
I am an idea person so it was no surprise to me (or anyone LOL) that I had more than 100 ideas written down no sooner than my Glowforge arrived. The thing is, with a Glowforge there truly are so few limits, you will never run out of projects to create – and sell.
My inbox is always full of people who see an ad or another product and will say “hey, can you make this on the Glowforge? I'd rather pay you than a big company!” – and most of the time, yes, you can recreate anything on your Glowforge. If you haven't figured out how to make files yet, that's okay. There are plenty of creators on Etsy who will design files for you for $10 each, sometimes less.
People coming to ME to order, when I have barely advertised? I mean, what other business does that happen with?
I personally know several Glowforge owners who have outgrown their current space, built entire buildings dedicated to their laser cutting business, because of how many orders they've gotten. I know others who have two machines now and run them both daily! There really are no limits to the amount of money you can make with your Glowforge, outside of how much time you have.
Once you get to the point where you're working on orders all day, you may want to raise your prices and/or hire help. 🙂
Bonus: The PRO Model is really worth it!
When I bought my Glowforge, I went with the PRO because, well… go big or go home, right? But I wasn't sure if it was worth the additional expense. After seeing the huge differences in performance as well as the size of projects we could create, we knew the PRO was the right choice for us.
If you're on a tight budget and can't get financing for the PRO, the Basic model will absolutely help you create an amazingly profitable laser cutting business. However, if you're a worrier like I am – or a big idea person like my husband is – you're going to want to figure out how to buy the PRO.
The PRO has a year long warranty, which we never had to use, thankfully… but it was there. The PRO is faster, which means you can create more projects in less time. And my husband's favorite feature, the pass-through slot, is only available with the PRO model. This means bigger projects and more possibilities. If you're going to spend a few thousand on a machine like this, I say really GO FOR IT and get the PRO if you can. We are glad we did.
Should you buy a Glowforge?
If I had known all these things – along with how much money could be made – I would have purchased my Glowforge much sooner!
I'm not here to hype you up and say using a Glowforge is a piece of cake, or that you'll make a million dollars this year. What I am saying is that with a fairly easy learning curve and far less saturation than other businesses (like sublimation, bleaching, Cricut, stickers, etc), a Glowforge is an easy YES! if you want to start a profitable business that can grow with you.
Not ready for such a large investment? Start a sticker business to fund a Glowforge!!
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One major thing you left out is that the tube in the Glowforge only lasts 2 years, and it costs $500 to replace. This is a shelf life issue, not an issue with usage hours, so add $250/ year for your operating costs!
Jim, our Glowforge has done a TON of work and is still going strong… depends on what you’re cutting, how often/well you clean it, and how many cuts you’re doing. Saying it only lasts 2 years is false. However, I’d gladly add $250/year to operating costs when I can make $10K in a month! 🙂 There are always costs associated with running a business, especially one that is as profitable as Glowforge businesses are. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Interested to know how easy it is to use wood that isn’t “proof”….. Like reclaimed barn wood, etc. How difficult is it to learn how to do proper measurements for designs?
I don’t have experience with reclaimed barn wood. We got our wood from a lumber yard. Did not pay for glowforge “proof” grade – too expensive.
This post really helps and builds confidence, i did purchased glowforge pro, but i am little scared as the investment in it is huge. But reading this post helped me to build some confidence.
Do you mind sharing where do you buy the materials for glowforge?
Yes! I would
Like info on that too. Where you get supplies that aren’t so expensive that you can’t sell your product.