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Glowforge Aura: Make Your First Laser Cut Project

Glowforge Aura: Make Your First Laser Cut Project

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project

Glowforge Aura: Make Your First Laser Cut Project

I just received my very first Glowforge® laser cutter and I couldn’t be more excited to add this machine to my crafting room! I’ve been eyeing a Glowforge machine for a while now, and with the release of the brand new Glowforge Aura™ the timing couldn’t be more perfect! I know I’ll use this laser cutting machine so much as both a crafter and a teacher – I’m already envisioning all of the projects I’ll be making! In this blog post I’ll answer the most-asked questions about Glowforge laser cutters, show you how to set up and unbox your machine, and explain how to make your very first project! Let’s get started!

Frequently Asked Questions about Glowforge

What is a Glowforge laser cutting machine?

A Glowforge Craft Laser™ machine is a 3D laser printer that uses a laser beam to cut and engrave various materials with precision. It’s a versatile tool for creating a wide range of projects using hundreds of materials for unlimited creativity!

How does a Glowforge work?

A Glowforge works by using a laser beam controlled by a computer to precisely cut or engrave materials based on designs created in graphic design programs like the Glowforge App or Adobe Illustrator. It operates through SVG files and offers a user-friendly interface for straightforward usage.

What materials can a Glowforge cut and engrave?

Glowforge machines can cut and engrave a wide variety of materials, including wood, acrylic, leather, paper, fabric, and more. You can find a whole store’s worth of Proofgrade® materials from the Glowforge shop.

What are Proofgrade® Materials?

Proofgrage materials are are specifically designed to be laser-ready for your Glowforge. They’re made from high-quality materials to ensure a premium finished product, and they come with custom protective making to ensure sharp, clean prints with every cut! If using your own materials, it’s essential to use laser-compatible materials for the best results.

The biggest benefit of using Proofgrade materials? The smart-coded sheets automatically adjust the Glowforge settings for quick set up and perfect results without the guess work!

What are the differences between the various Glowforge models?

Glowforge offers different models like the Glowforge Aura, Plus, and Pro. Here’s a breakdown of each model:

  1. Glowforge Aura:
    • The Glowforge Basic is an excellent starting point for hobbyists and crafters. It’s perfect for creating smaller projects such as engraved coasters, custom jewelry, personalized gifts like wooden bookmarks, and intricate designs on various materials like paper, leather, and acrylic.
    • With the Glowforge Basic, you have access to a wide range of laser-compatible materials and can create beautiful, detailed pieces with ease.
  2. Glowforge Plus:
    • The Glowforge Plus offers enhanced capabilities compared to the Basic model. It allows for faster cutting and engraving speeds, which is beneficial for larger projects or bulk production.
    • Users of the Glowforge Plus can create more significant pieces like engraved signs, home decor, intricate stencils for painting or crafting, and personalized items on a larger scale.
  3. Glowforge Pro:
    • The Glowforge Pro is the powerhouse of the Glowforge lineup, designed for professional use. It includes all the features of the Plus model and provides additional perks such as a passthrough slot, allowing for the use of longer materials.
    • With the Pro model’s enhanced compatibility with a broader range of materials and faster processing speeds, you can create larger, more complex projects such as furniture pieces, architectural models, and detailed prototypes. It’s ideal for businesses or individuals seeking high-volume production and versatility.

What can you make with a Glowforge?

With a Glowforge, the creative possibilities are virtually limitless! You can craft all sorts of items ranging from intricate jewelry, personalized gifts like engraved coasters or cutting boards, custom home decor such as wooden signs or acrylic wall art, detailed stencils for various applications, intricate models or prototypes, and even create unique pieces for hobbies like model making. You can even engrave photos, logos, or JPEGs. Some small businesses have gotten their start with Glowforge! Whether it’s etching on glass, cutting wood with precision, engraving leather, or adding intricate details to paper, the Glowforge’s capabilities help you transform your photos into personalized keepsakes!

Can I create my designs, or do I need design software?

You can create your own designs using a graphic design program like Adobe Illustrator or use designs you can find in the Glowforge App, which provides laser cut files for foolproof cuts. New Glowforge owners often find the app a great starting point for creating their first projects. The Glowforge user interface is really user-friendly and will have you making great projects in no time! You’ll find thousands of ready-to-print designs in the Glowforge Catalog that allow you to make stunning prints no matter your experience level!

​Is the Glowforge App free?

You can use the Glowforge App and browse the design Catalog for free. If you don’t have a Glowforge Premium membership, you’ll have to pay to use the Catalog designs. A large portion of the designs were created by fellow makers, and they get paid for every download. Every purchase supports your crafting community!

What is Glowforge Premium?

Glowforge Premium is an optional upgrade to the Glowforge Print software. In addition to giving you access thousands of free designs in the Glowforge Catalog, the Premium membership includes:

– Magic Canvas: An AI assisted design tool that helps you design from scratch.

– Early Access: Try our experimental, not-yet-released new features before anyone else.

– Sharing Benefits: Share some of the benefits of your Premium account with up to 2 other people in your household.

How do I get help with my Glowforge?

This company has amazing customer support and a huge library of helpful articles can be found in the Glowforge community forums. Chances are you can find the answers can be found there if you need any help!

What sets the Glowforge Aura apart from other cutting machines?

You might be wondering what the difference is between a Craft Laser and a blade cutting machine. The laser is much stronger than a blade and more precise, allowing you to make more intricate cuts on much thicker material. With a Craft Laser, you get endless creativity with no hassle. No sticky mats, weeding, or blade replacements required!

How much does a Glowforge Aura machine cost?


How to set up your brand new Glowforge

Follow these instructions to set up your laser cutting machine properly. The setup is so simple you can go from unboxing to creating in under 30 minutes!

1. Lay your glow forge on a flat surface. A table or work bench is a great place to house your new machine. Take out the first box and remove the power cord and the hose. Put them aside – we’ll use those later.

Glowforge Aura_ Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Remove the power cord and the hose

2. First take off the small piece of foam and lift the laser gently into place on the black square. It’s magnetic so it should pop right in!

Glowforge Aura_ Make Your First Laser Cut Project (2)
Lift the laser gently into place on the black square

3. Pull the laser arm to make sure it moves. Once it’s straight now you can place the cutting tray right into your Aura machine and it should fit perfectly.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
place the cutting tray right into your Aura machine

4. Attach the exhaust hose to the back of the Aura.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Attach the exhaust hose

5. Add the Glowforge Personal Filter™ to the filtration unit (if you have one). Once that’s in place you can connect the hose to the filtration unit.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Add the Glowforge Personal Filter™ to the filtration unit

I personally recommend getting the Glowforge Personal Filter because it allows you to create from any room. It’s dual HEPA-grade & activated carbon gas filters trap over 99.9% of particles in the air so you can make something magical without the need for a window vent. Plus the replaceable cartridges last for up to 100 hours of printing!

6. Plug in your Glowforge – there’s no on or off switch.

How to make your first cut using the Glowforge Aura

Supplies you’ll need to make your first cut

Affiliate disclaimer: Although I stand by all of the products I use, I can receive a small commission from any products purchased via my affiliate links.

Glowforge Machine

– Proofgrade materials

I chose to make an acrylic keychain for my first cut using the Glowforge machine. Now that my teenagers are driving, we’re always losing track of the car keys. It seemed like the a great idea for my first project!

1. Create your design using the Glowforge Web App

– One thing I LOVE about this machine is that the Glowforge software is super easy to use. Go to and make a Glowforge account. If you want access to free designs, you’ll need a Glowforge Premium account. The Premium account is $50 per month, but you’ll get a free 2 week trial when you first log into the app. This is a great way to make your first project for free!

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project (8)
Make an account at

– You’ll notice the starter designs and designs that have been popular for the month. The Glowforge vector collection is seriously impressive – I’d recommend spending some time exploring the variety of designs! If you have something specific in mind, use the search box  on the lefthand side. For this project, I knew I wanted to make an initial keychain, so I typed in the words “initial keychain” into the search box.

– If you like the designs in your search results, click “view details”. If you’re not happy with the initial search results, click “view more Catalog designs” and you’ll see more design options.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Search for your design

The result for my search was a stitched initial, which was a little more intricate than what I wanted for my first project. I clicked “view more Catalog designs” and found the perfect bubble letter keychain. Once I settled on that design I clicked “view details”

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project (10)
Click “view more Catalog designs” to find the perfect project

– Once you settle on a design, click “open my design” and it will take you to the design space user interface. It actually shows you the exact placement of your design on the design tray using the built-in camera. So cool! You may need to delete or move parts of the design to fit your project requirements. You can click, drag, and delete elements easily.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project (11)
Click “open my design” to start customizing

My design showed the whole alphabet, but I only wanted to make the letter “K” for my initial keychain. I clicked on the “K” and dragged it out of the way, then selected and deleted the rest of the letters.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project (12)
Customize your design by clicking or dragging

2. Insert your materials

I highly recommend using Proofgrade materials. They’re so easy to use and you don’t have to mess around with the cut settings!

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Use Proofgrade materials for perfect projects

– The next step is to insert your Proofgade materials with the QR code facing up. The Aura Vision™ camera will scan the QR code and automatically adjust the settings for the corresponding material. Double check that it has recognized the material in the top left-hand corner of the design space screen.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Insert your Proofgrade materials with the QR code facing up

I’m using medium orange acrylic for this design.

– Position your design to waste as little material as possible by dragging it. I love the Aura Vision feature because I can see exactly what my design will look like on my material without guessing! I placed my letter “K” in the top left hand corner so I can still use the rest of the acrylic for different projects, instead of cutting it out of the middle. I want to get as many cuts out of this one piece of material as possible!

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Use the Aura Vision to preview your design before you cut

3. Make your first cut!

– This is the fun part! Once your design is ready to go, click “print” in the top right corner. It will calibrate the machine and let you know when it’s ready to cut and how long the cut will take.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Click “print” to see how long your cut will take

– Press the white button on your Glowforge Aura machine to start the cut. Watch in amazement as the Glowforge does it’s thing!

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Press the white button on your machine to start the cut

– WAIT until the screen tells you it’s time to remove your design. The laser is very hot and you don’t want to burn yourself.

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Wait until it’s safe to remove to avoid burns!

– Take your design out and remove the masking that comes on all of the proof-grade materials. This helps protect your project during the cutting process!

Glowforge Aura Make Your First Laser Cut Project
Remove the built-in masking from the final project

And that’s how to make your very first cut with your Glowforge laser cutter! I made a keychain for myself and my daughter, and I also cut and bedazzled a heart to go with it. I know I’ll be using this new machine all the time in my classroom and at home. The possibilities are endless! What will you make for your first Glowforge cut?

Made your first cut and now you’re obsessed with making more Glowforge projects? Check out these bedazzled heart earrings!