Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning about Lasers: Laser Categories

Ever since pre-ordering the Glowforge, I’ve been obsessed about learning more about laser cutting and etching equipment.  It’s the largest expense made to date so I wanted to ensure I know how to take care of it.  Since Glowforge is so new, they haven’t finalized their design yet.  No online manuals yet for us.  The internet contains a wealth of information.  The Glowforge machine is really a scaled down version of the industrial machine.

Since I’m reading up on it anyway, why not share some of the knowledge with beginners just like me.  If you have any feedback and / or comments, please let me know!

Glowforge offers a Class I laser and a Class 4 laser

  • Class I (Basic model) means you don’t have to take additional safety precautions to be safe
  • Class 4 (Pro Model) means you have to take precautions like posting warning signs and wear proper safety glasses

I’m looking forward to reading Glowforge’s safety precautions about it when it become available.  However, it’s good to know about all the classes so you know where your machine fits in the industry.  So I copied and pasted this excerpt that I found very helpful from the Ackland’s Grainger Website

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert and you must always refer to the guidelines from the manufacture or your machine or their website for your safety and safety of those around you.

Laser Categories (Excerpted from Acklands Grainger):

Vision damage can occur from directly viewing the laser source or if the laser beam hits the eye. Damage is usually severe, and may result in blindness, which is why direct viewing of the laser source and its reflections should be avoided. A laser's reflective beam intensity may equal its direct beam intensity; therefore, no reflective objects or surfaces should be in the area with the laser.

Light is radiant energy and is defined as electromagnetic radiation. It is measured in wavelengths and described in nanometers (nm). A laser produces an intense beam of light of a single wavelength (or color) and frequency. Laser intensity varies from low power (Class 1, 2, and 3A lasers), to medium (Class 3B) to high power (Class 4). The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) classifies lasers into categories and gives guidelines on laser safety in the standard Z136.1. Following are laser categories as outlined by ANSI.

Class 1: Cannot emit laser radiation at known hazard levels. Users of Class 1 lasers are generally exempt from radiation hazard controls during operation and maintenance, but not necessarily during service. Most Class 1 industrial lasers consist of a higher class laser enclosed in a properly interlocked and labeled protective enclosure.

Class 2: Low-power visible lasers. Emit laser radiation above Class 1 levels and radiant power not above 1mW. The human aversion reaction to bright light will protect the person from this low level. Example: a supermarket laser scanner.

Class 3A: Intermediate-power lasers. Only hazardous for intrabeam viewing. Some limited controls are usually recommended. Example: a helium-neon laser used in the construction industry.

Class 3B: Moderate-power lasers. Not generally a fire hazard and not capable of producing a hazardous diffuse reflection, except in instances of intentional staring at distances close to the diffuser. Specific controls are recommended.

Class 4: High–power lasers. Hazardous to view under any condition (directly or diffusely scattered). Potential fire hazard and a skin hazard. Significant controls are required for Class 4 laser facilities. Example: an Excimer laser operating in the ultraviolet.

A laser's danger varies depending on which area of the light spectrum it is generating. The ultraviolet radiation laser (180-400nm) causes corneal burns. Lasers in the near-infrared region (780-1800nm) cause retinal damage. These are usually Class 2, 3A, 3B and 4 lasers. The high-powered lasers, Class 3B and 4, can also cause electrical shock and skin burns. A skin cover, like opaque gloves and tightly woven fabrics, and or a "sun screen" may be recommended.

A laser consists of a resonant optical cavity filled with an active medium. The medium is acted upon by some source of excitation energy. The media could be one of three types: a solid state, a gaseous state, or a semiconductor or injection-type. Solid lasers use a crystal, e.g., ruby, glass or a semiconductor (argon) as the light amplifying substance, producing a pulsating laser beam. A gaseous state laser (helium-neon) produces a continuous beam.

For information on the laser’s wattage or power of the laser, refer to the instruction/maintenance manual.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thank You for the Support for a Glowforge


Over one week ago, I announced I preordered Glowforge laser cutter.  For those who helped me out by purchasing through my referral link,

Thank You!

As a small business, even the basic model is a huge investment and each of you made a difference.    Much of my spare time was focused on learning on what I was really getting into.  All the previous research showed meant a lot of tinkering with a low cost offshore machine and learning new software.  After hovering in the forums and watching more videos, I’m convinced that this machine is the right one for me.  I admit one concern the machine is completely wireless – meaning internet is required and designs are transmitted through a cloud.  Glowforge did leave it open source that if they ever go under, then we could still reprogram it so we could continue using it.    That’s something to consider.  For me, I’m pretty rusty in my coding skills, but I still have confidence the company will be around long after the first generation pre-order units have been delivered and they’ll have 2nd and 3rd generations in the years to come.

If you are still thinking of getting your own, you can still get 40% of the retail price on the preorder and if you click on this link here, you can still get $100 off your purchase

Bosskut_Gazelle_Digital_Die_CutterUnfortunately for me, I probably will not receive my unit until sometime in 2016 so it’s going to be a tough time as I have many ideas in my mind that my BossKut Gazzelle isn’t able to do.  In fact, I’m already sketching out ideas and I’m pretty sure I’ll have a few SVGs ready in a few weeks!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Glowforge: Save $100 for Yours and receive 75% off your order from my Etsy Shops

I haven't been this excited for a long time on any new equipment.  I wanted to expand my designs out of the stationary and illustrations into higher end artwork and practical product. I'm excited to announce that I just pre-ordered a Glowforge 3D laser printer.

If you are already looking to get one, you can save $100.  Use this link to buy & get $100 off their 50%-off launch price using my referral ink Oct 28, 2015. 

** hint: If you are Canadian and drop shipping in Washington, USA for pickup, use your own postal code and you won’t be charged the sales tax. You shouldn’t pay this tax unless you live in Washington State. This way, you just pay the standard duty tax when you bring it back home.

Receive 75% off on your orders with Cindy Ho Designs

If you choose to buy your own Glowforge using my referral link, please let me know by emailing me to I will forward a coupon link that will you 75% the price of any product in either Etsy store (shipping extra) from now until October 30th:

Why did I choose Glowforge?

For months, I’ve been searching for a laser cutter that:
  • will be strong enough to cut through a variety of materials
  • is enclosed to be safe from the children
  • fits on the desktop
  • is easy to learn – which meant going with a brand name

Everything I’d like to have is built in the Rayjet Laser, it would have been perfect but way out of my budget at $10,000 to $15,000. I could have went with $3000 or under with a non-brand name from overseas but knowing there would be lack of customer support coupled with the fact I’m not that technical would have been months of frustration to learn how to use it.  I would probably will throw it out the window or burn the house down. I started researching a diode laser engraver which would have been under $1000, but there were too many compromises on speed and cutting options that I couldn't accept.

Then I stumbled upon Glowforge. This machine fits all my criteria at the fraction of the cost. Rayjet is still a much more advanced machine, but Glowforge is a better fit for a small business. I found Glowforge so late in the game, but lucky enough that there is a 50% presale price going on. The basic is a $3995 machine but until Oct 28, it’s offered @ $1995 plus shipping. It’ll probably be until next year before I receive my unit and when I do, I’ll write about my laser adventures. I hope after a few years, Cindy Ho Designs will grow enough that I can get a Rayjet as my upgrade