For many years, woodworkers marveled at personalization of handcrafted goods available from large companies. In the past decade, the consumer laser has exploded on the scene, allowing access to this technology at an affordable cost.
Consumer lasers are perfect for wood projects. A few of the prominent brands available are Epilog, Orion, and Glowforge. The laser is the perfect machine to compliment the hobbyist's arsenal. So, I bought the Glowforge Plus, a mid-tier machine that I initially decided on while making wood veneer business cards for my maker friends.
Laser cutters are measured by watts: the amount of power they can provide to cut through material. The higher the wattage, the less shadowing (burned area around the cut) you get. The Glowforge Plus is a 40 watt laser, which will cut through most 1/4 wood in one pass.
Like most lasers, the Glowforge is compatible with design software such as Autodesk 360, Adobe Illustrator, and CorelDRAW. The files from the design software are transferred into an interface software for the specific machine. I prefer Inkscape, an alternative (free) open-source design software that works well with lasers and has a short learning curve. Save your designs as svgs and easily transfer them via Bluetooth, hardwire, or WiFi. It is my go-to since jpg and png files can be easily imported for engraving as it takes photos and traces them, converting it to a bitmap file so they may be engraved.
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