New (Refurbished) Glowforge


I received one of the original Crowd Funded Glowforge laser cutters  (oh, sorry, “3D laser printer”) in November of 2017. Other than the lid glue detaching from both the front handle and rear hinges in 2019 and 2020, it has worked very nicely. However, I did notice that the power of the unit was gradually decreasing over time in 2019 (I had to use higher and higher power settings to cut through the same wood).
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My Glowforge Glass Lid Detached!

Remember how the handle on the front of my Glowforge’s glass lid fell off back in 2019? Well today when I went to lift the lid, the entire glass lid was detached from the back (hinges!).  I am NOT impressed with the adhesive that Glowforge used on this unit.

Glass lid detached from the hindges

Last time I was able to simply epoxy the handle back into place. I’m hopeful I can do the same thing for the back of the lid, but unfortunately this time it will be very important that I be able to get the lid as close to possible to the original position, as the calibration of the under-lid camera may be negatively impacted by any offsets.   On the plus side, since my last issue, Glowforge has introduced a “beta” Calibrate Camera feature which should hopefully give me the ability to re-calibrate the under-lid (wide angle) camera “in the field”.

Somebody on the Glowforge community forums suggested that they had used E6000 (a flexible adhesive) to repair their lid, so I decided to give that a shot. I made this choice based mostly on the fact that E6000 is a single part adhesive that comes in a squeeze tube with a nice nozzle for dispensing. Getting a good bead between the lid and the hinge mechanism was going to be a little tricky because the lid is still attached to the main unit by a flexible circuit board/wire and it wasn’t immediately clear how to detach the connector. (I was worried that getting 2-part epoxy between the two of them without spilling any would be difficult. In retrospect, I should have ordered one of those “mix in the nozzle” dispensers for the epoxy….).

So, I laid down a few beads of E6000 and then clamped the lid down onto the hinges for 48 hours.

Rocks holding the lid down

Clamping force provided by gravity.

When I opened the lid, the E6000 mostly held, but there was a noticeable “glue stretching” sound, and the right hand side of the lid (nearest the flexible wire, and hardest to get the nozzle under) detached.  The E6000 was holding the lid on the hinge in an upright orientation, but I didn’t want to risk closing and opening the lid more.

So I ended up using JB Weld Clear 2 part 5 minute epoxy all along the edge of the lid and the hinge mechanism (using a toothpick to push it down in the gap on the right hand side) and then clamping the lid to the hinge in an upright position  (using a real clamp this time) for another 24 hours.

The Epoxy is currently holding the lid onto the hinge very solidly. I’d feel better if I’d used epoxy between the entire lid and hinge mechanism, instead of just the edge and what I could force down the crack on the right hand side, so I’ll be gentle with the lid (but then again, I’ve been gentle with it ever since the handle fell off….)

I’m hopeful the bond will remain at least as permanent as my repair on the handle has so far.

Update: My laser tube gave up the ghost, and GlowForge exchanged my (well out of warranty) unit for a Refurbished one for $500.  (Yes, they were informed about my lid repair activities with Epoxy and approved the exchange anyways…..)

My Glowforge Lid Handle Fell off!

I went to use my Glowforge laser cutter today, and when I tried to open the lid the handle fell right off onto the floor!  This wasn’t the first failure I was expecting from this device! (I figured the laser tube would die, or something to do with the electronics would fail…but no, the glue used to attach this metal and plastic handle piece to the safety glass that makes up the lid just let go!)

Unfortunately, the lid handle has some wires running to it (for the “lid closed” sensor I assume) and now my glowforge thinks the lid is open all the time and won’t do anything. The lid handle has two wires on each side that normally plug into sockets on the end of the LED light bars on the left and right side of the lid. The one on the left nicely unplugged itself when the lid fell, but the one on the right pulled the socket off of the lightbar, and would require at a minimum some soldering to reattach the socket to the light bar PCB.

As my warranty has expired, Glowforge offered to charge me $200 for round trip shipping of the unit to and from their repair location, and after they receive the unit they will tell me how much a repair would cost (if a repair is possible.) The customer service email said that they couldn’t repair the part in the field as some of the parts that would need to be replaced require calibration which they can’t do in the field. (I assume they were speaking about the camera mounted on the underside of the lid. They may have mistakenly thought that the lid had separated from the hinge in the back, but I guess if they replace the lid entirely instead of just attaching the handle again they would need to re-calibrate that camera to the rest of the laser cutter.)

Since a brand new cheap Chinese K40 laser cutter only costs $400-500, I decided to attempt this repair on my own. After laying out a moving blanket to protect the laser tube from errant solder drops, I was able to solder the socket back in place with only a few scorch marks on the shiny white PCB.

 

I plugged the lid closed sensors back into the sockets, held the handle onto the lid while closing it (the weight of the lid keeps the handle in place when closed) and my Glowforge operated as normal!  The only thing remaining is to determine the right type of adhesive to permanently re-attach the handle to the lid. Glowforge support understandably didn’t want to go on record with a specific recommendation for this unauthorized DIY repair, so I went with JB Weld (Clear) 2 part 5 minute epoxy. So far, the handle remains attached to the underside of the glass lid.

December 2020 Update: Handle still attached to glass lid. However, the other end of the lid detached from the hinge side of the Glowforge.