Glowforge Aura Review: Everything You Need To Know About Crafting Tool

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Glowforge Aura Laser Printer

The Glowforge Aura stands out as a user-friendly, precise, and safe option for crafters looking to explore the vast possibilities of laser cutting and engraving.

7
Our Score

Pros

  • Unboxing and preparing the Glowforge Aura for use is straightforward and hassle-free
  • It delivers accurate and high-quality cuts and engravings on various materials with ease
  • The Glowforge Print App is beginner-friendly
  • Its fully enclosed design and safety sensors provide a secure crafting environment
  • The compact design makes it a great fit for small workspaces

Cons

  • The Aura may take longer on larger projects, not being the fastest option available
  • It has a limited cutting depth compared to more powerful, higher-priced models
  • Using Glowforge’s recommended Proofgrade materials can be expensive and require extra effort

Have you ever found yourself deep into a DIY project, surrounded by materials, your creativity peaking, yet feeling something is missing?

Maybe you’re a small business owner in the creative field, constantly seeking ways to differentiate your products in a crowded market. Or perhaps you’re a hobbyist who loves to personalize gifts for friends and family but struggles to find the right tools to bring your unique ideas to life. The challenge is clear: you need a versatile, precision tool that can keep up with your imagination and craftsmanship demands.

In this Glowforge Aura Review, we’re diving deep into the capabilities and features of what could very possibly be the ultimate crafting tool you’ve been searching for.

Whether you’re starting a small business, elevating your hobby to new heights, or looking to introduce laser cutting and engraving into your repertoire, the Glowforge Aura promises to be a game-changer.

Overview of the Glowforge Brand

Glowforge is a name that has become very well-known among people who love to make things. It’s a brand that makes machines called laser cutters.

Sponsored*

Before Glowforge, if you wanted to use a laser cutter for a project, you usually had to go to a special workshop that had these big, expensive machines. Glowforge changed that. They made laser cutters that are smaller, more affordable, and easy enough for anyone to use at home or in a small setting.

Note that they use the word “printing” to describe what they do. This is because, just like a regular printer takes your digital designs and puts them onto paper, Glowforge machines take your designs and bring them to life on materials like wood and leather.

Overview of The Glowforge Aura Machine

Overview of The Glowforge Aura Machine

The Glowforge Aura is a new family member of the Glowforge brand and it’s pretty exciting stuff, especially if you like making things! This machine is smaller and more affordable than its big brothers in the Glowforge lineup. That means more people can start using it for their projects. We got to try the Aura and were impressed.

So, what does the Glowforge Aura bring to the table for folks who love crafting and those running small businesses? Quite a bit, actually.

For hobbyists, the Glowforge Aura means you can take your crafting game to a whole new level. You’re not just stuck gluing and cutting things by hand anymore. Now, you can design something on your computer or tablet and watch the Aura bring it to life. It’s like having your own little factory at home.

For small business owners, the Aura could be a game-changer. It lets you create custom, professional-quality products right from your workspace. Whether you’re making personalized gifts, custom signs, or unique home decor, the Aura gives you the power to make things that stand out. And because you can do it all in-house, you can get your products to your customers faster.

See our guide to using a laser engraver for crafting & woodworking.

Product Highlights
AutofocusAutomatically adjusts to material
3D EngravingCreates detailed and textured designs
PassthroughAllows for using larger materials
CompatibilityWorks with MAC, PC, tablet, or phone
Live PreviewSee your design before you print
12 Months WarrantyPeace of mind with protection
Technical Specifications
Machine Size 22 x 20.5 x 5 inches
Weight19 lbs
Laser Power6W solid state laser
Engraving depthUp to ¼ inch depth
Max Material Size12 x 12 inches without passthrough
Software Compatible with Glowforge Print app
Passthrough DimensionMaterials up to 12″ long, 3/8″ high & unlimited width
CameraWide angle & macro camera

What Materials Can the Glowforge Aura Engrave and Cut?

The Glowforge Aura can work its magic on a wide variety of materials, transforming them into beautiful crafts, gifts, and products.

MaterialCan engrave/scoreVSCan cut
WoodVS
AcrylicVS
LeatherVS
Paper VS
CardboardVS
RubberVS
SandpaperVS
FoodVS
SlateVS
StoneVS
MarbleVS
AluminiumVS
Ceramic TileVS

What are Glowforge Proofgrade Materials

Glowforge Proofgrade Materials

When you’re starting out with the Glowforge Aura, you might feel a bit of worry about messing up your projects or not getting the settings just right. That’s where Proofgrade materials come in.

Proofgrade materials are special crafting materials made just for Glowforge machines. They come directly from Glowforge and have a super helpful QR code on them. Think of this QR code like a smart tag that your Glowforge Aura can read. Once the Aura scans this code, it knows exactly what the material is and automatically sets the best laser power and speed for cutting, engraving, or scoring. This means there’s no guessing or stressing for you.

The cool part about using Proofgrade materials is that Glowforge has tested them thoroughly. So, if there’s ever a change in how they’re made, Glowforge updates the settings on their end.

While the variety of Proofgrade materials might seem a bit limited compared to all the materials out there, they’re made of excellent quality and are an amazing starting point. If you’re new to using a Glowforge Aura, sticking with Proofgrade materials at first is a smart move.

What Accessories are Compatible with the Aura Machine

Glowforge Personal Air Filter Accessory

The Glowforge Aura is awesome because it lets you work on lots of different projects right from your home. But when you’re cutting or engraving materials, the process creates some smoke and smells. To keep your crafting space nice and clean air-wise, there’s a special gadget called the Glowforge Personal Air Filter.

What exactly does this air filter do? It’s like a vacuum cleaner for the air that sucks up the smoke and smells that come from using the Glowforge Aura. It attaches right to your machine, and it works hard to catch over 99.9% of the tiny bits in the air that you don’t want to breathe in.

The air filter is about the size of a small suitcase, so it doesn’t take up much room. And inside, it has a filter that you’ll need to replace after about 100 hours of using your Aura. The Glowforge website will help you keep track of this, so you’ll know when it’s time for a new one.

If your crafting space isn’t near a window or venting the smoke outside isn’t convenient, especially if you live in a place with hot or cold weather, the Glowforge Personal Air Filter will come in handy.

What Software is Needed to Use This Laser Printer?

Glowforge Print App

You will need the Glowforge Print App. This is a web-based app, meaning you can use it right from your internet browser on any device like your computer, tablet, or even your phone.

Features of the Glowforge Print App

Easy Access: Because it’s web-based, you can get to the App from any device that connects to the internet. So, whether you’re on a Mac, PC, tablet, or smartphone, you’re good to go.

Designing Made Simple: The app lets you create your projects from scratch. It has millions of fonts, graphics, and tools you can use to make your designs. You can also pick from thousands of designs that are ready to print if you want to make something fast without designing it yourself.

Use Your Favorite Software: If you’re already comfortable making designs in software like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, that’s great! You can create your project in these programs and then upload the file (like JPG, PNG, SVG, or PDF) directly to the Glowforge Print App by dragging and dropping it in.

See our guide to selecting the best laser engraving software for wood crafting.

Seeing Your Work: One of the coolest things about the Glowforge Print App is the live preview. It shows you exactly how your design will look on the material you’re using. You can move your design around to fit just right before you start cutting or engraving.

No Learning Curve: The app is designed to be really easy to use, even if you’re totally new to this kind of thing. You’ll be able to start making your first project within minutes of setting up your Aura.

Applications of the Glowforge Aura Machine

Crafting Beautiful Masterpieces

The Glowforge Aura shines when it comes to turning your ideas into real, touchable creations. Whether you’re working with wood, acrylic, leather, or any of the many materials it can handle, the Aura’s precision is unmatched. Imagine cutting delicate lace patterns out of wood for a decorative piece or engraving a detailed design onto leather to create a unique book cover. The Aura makes all this possible and so much more.

With the Aura, crafting isn’t limited to flat surfaces. You can score and engrave to add texture and depth, making your creations pop. It’s like having a magic wand that turns regular materials into pieces of art. Whether you’re making gifts for loved ones, decorations for your home, or items to sell, the Glowforge Aura helps you craft masterpieces that are sure to impress.

Money-making Side Hustle

Not just for personal use, the Glowforge Aura can also be a powerful ally in starting or growing a business. Its ability to precisely cut, engrave, and score hundreds of different materials opens up a world of product possibilities. Custom signage, personalized gifts, intricate jewelry, and home decor are just the beginning. The Aura allows you to quickly and easily create high-quality, sellable items without the need for bulky, industrial equipment.

The key to turning your Glowforge Aura into a money-making machine lies in its precision and versatility. With it, you can offer products that are tailored to your customers’ desires. Offering customization, such as adding a name or a special date to an item, makes your products even more appealing. As word spreads about the unique things you can make, your side hustle can grow into a full-fledged business.

Related: How To Start a Wood Engraving Business in 8 Steps (An Ultimate Guide)

Putting The Glowforge Aura Printer to Work – Our Honest Review

When we got our hands on the Glowforge Aura, we were buzzing with excitement and a bit of nervousness. Unboxing a new gadget always feels a bit like Christmas, and the Aura was no exception. Here’s our honest take on what it’s like to get started with this machine.

What’s Included in The Box?

Unboxing The Glowforge Aura Machine

Right off the bat, we noticed how well everything was packaged. Glowforge did a great job of making sure nothing would get jostled around during shipping. Here’s a rundown of what we found inside the box:

The Glowforge Aura Printer: Of course, the star of the show.

Laser Head and Fan: These crucial pieces were snugly fitted in their own protective spots within the box.

Crumb Tray: A metal tray with holes that slots in at the bottom of the printer.

Power Cable: Necessary to get the glow going.

Vent Hose: This flexible hose is essential for venting out the fumes that come from whatever we are cutting or engraving.

Sample Proofgrade Material: A nice touch!

Quick Start Guide: A handy guide to get us up and running without fuss.

Assembly and Setup

No tool kits were needed because the machine was pretty much ready to go out of the box. The instruction manual, well, it was more of a quick start guide than a full manual. But it pointed us to where we could find more in-depth resources online.

Setting everything up was a breeze. Connecting the laser head took a simple click into place, thanks to the magnetic alignment. The power cable and vent hose connections were straightforward.

One of the coolest things we noticed right off the bat was the use of Proofgrade materials. Glowforge sends along a sample so you can see just how easy it is to use these materials. The Aura immediately recognized the sample wood piece we inserted, thanks to the QR code. This feature eliminated the guesswork and setup for our first test run, making the entire process feel incredibly user-friendly.

Honestly, we were a bit worried at first—no one wants to mess up their brand new laser printer, right? But Glowforge’s design choices here made the setup almost foolproof.

Design and Build Quality

You know, questions like: is it sturdy? Does it look cool? Here’s what we found out about the its design and build quality.

The Glowforge Aura has a sleek and modern looking design. It’s not too big, kind of like a large microwave, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space. This is great for us because we could easily find a spot for it in our crafting area without having to rearrange everything.

As for the build quality, it feels pretty solid. The outside is made of a smooth, sturdy material, and the lid opens and closes smoothly. We were a bit careful with it because it’s a new and exciting gadget, but it feels like it can handle regular use without any problems.

The laser head, which is a key part of the machine, attaches magnetically. This bit surprised us because it was so easy to put in place. It just clicks right in with a satisfying snap. This makes it feel very high-tech and also user-friendly, especially for folks who aren’t engineers.

Another thing we liked was the crumb tray. It’s designed to catch all the bits and pieces that come off the materials you’re cutting or engraving. It slides in and out easily, making it straightforward to clean up after a project.

Engraving and Cutting Performance

Engraving and Cutting Performance of The Glowforge Aura

When it comes to its performance, we looked at a few important things: accuracy & precision, quality of engraving and scoring, quality of cuts, and speed.

Accuracy & Precision

We tested the Aura on various materials, and we were really impressed by its accuracy. The lines came out clean and exactly where we wanted them. It’s precise, even with complex designs, making it perfect for detailed work.

Quality of Engraving and Scoring

The engravings were deep and clear, making them easy to see and feel. Scoring, which is like drawing a line without cutting through the material, was also spot on. Designs looked sharp and professional.

Quality of the Cuts

We cut through different materials, from thin wood to leather, and the Aura handled them all well. The edges of the cuts were smooth, and we didn’t have to go back to clean up any rough spots. It’s reassuring to know the cuts come out clean the first time.

Speed of the Process

The Aura isn’t the fastest machine on the block, especially when compared to higher-end models. But considering its size and the fact it’s designed more for hobbyists, the speed is reasonable. It’s quick enough for small to medium projects, which is probably what most users will use it for.

Safety Features and Maintenance

For anyone starting out or even for folks who’ve been crafting for a while but are new to using laser printers, these features make the Aura a comforting choice.

Safety Features

Fully Enclosed: The Aura is designed with a fully enclosed case. This means the laser is completely contained. We felt very safe knowing that there’s no way to accidentally touch the laser while it’s working.

Pause Button: There’s a big button on the machine that lets us pause the job at any moment. If we saw something going not as planned or just needed to stop for any reason, hitting this button made everything pause immediately.

Cooling System: The Aura has a built-in cooling system that keeps it at the right temperature. This feature is great because it helps prevent the machine from overheating, which is super important for both safety and making sure the Aura runs well for a long time.

Ventilation Hose: It comes with a ventilation hose that we easily attached to the back. This hose helps get rid of smoke and fumes that happen when cutting or engraving materials, which means we didn’t have to worry about breathing in anything not so good for us.

Related: A Full Checklist of Safety Precautions To Take When Using Any Power Tool

Maintenance

As far as keeping the Aura in tip-top shape, there wasn’t much we had to worry about.

Cleaning: The main thing was keeping it clean. This mostly meant wiping down the glass and removing any bits and pieces left from our projects. The crumb tray at the bottom slides out, so we could easily get rid of debris.

Checking the Lens: Every now and then, we checked the lens of the laser to make sure it was clean. A dirty lens could mess with the precision of the cuts, but a gentle wipe with the provided tool made it like new again.

Software Updates: Since the Aura connects to Wi-Fi, it gets software updates automatically. We didn’t have to do anything for this, which made us happy. Fresh updates mean the machine stays working smoothly.

Customer Support and Community

Customer Support and Community

Like anyone diving into a new gadget, we had our share of questions and moments where we needed a helping hand.

Glowforge’s Customer Support Services

Right off the bat, we found that reaching out to Glowforge’s customer support was a breeze. Whether it was a simple question about setup or something more technical, the team was on it. They were quick to respond and really knew their stuff, which made us feel supported every step of the way. For anyone thinking about getting an Aura, having this kind of backup is a big plus.

Glowforge Community Forum

Then, there’s the Glowforge community forum. This place is a treasure trove of advice, project ideas, and, most importantly, support from fellow Glowforge users. It felt like joining a family where everyone’s eager to help each other out. Whether we were looking for tips on materials or sharing our own projects, the community was always welcoming and incredibly helpful.

Glowforge Premium Subscription

For those looking to take their crafting to the next level, Glowforge offers a premium subscription. This gave us access to additional designs, features, and an even faster learning curve through the advanced tools provided. If you’re serious about making the most out of your Glowforge experience, it’s worth taking a look.

How-To Resources and Tutorials

Glowforge makes learning easy and fun, especially with their resources and tutorials. We found everything from basic setup guides to advanced project tips. These tutorials were straightforward and packed with info. Thanks to these resources, we were able to jump into more complex projects much quicker than we anticipated.

Glowforge Catalog

And we can’t forget the Glowforge Catalog. This is where we browsed through thousands of ready-to-make designs ranging from home decor to gadgets. The catalog not only inspired our projects but also taught us new techniques and applications for our Aura. It’s perfect for when you’re in need of a creative boost.

Help and Learning Center

Lastly, the Glowforge Help and Learning Center became our go-to whenever we had detailed questions. It’s filled with FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and maintenance tips, covering almost everything we needed to know to keep our Aura in top shape.

Pricing and Value for Money

Aura’s Pricing in Context

The Glowforge Aura, priced at $1,099, sits interestingly in the market. It’s not the cheapest on the block, but when you consider everything it offers, the price starts to look more and more reasonable. Compared to the xTool M1 Laser Cutter, which also targets a similar audience, the Aura holds its own. The M1 might come in a bit cheaper depending on the model, but there are features where the Aura shines, like its ease of use and community support.

For hobbyists looking to upgrade their crafting game, the Aura might seem like a big investment. However, when you factor in the versatility, the quality of the cuts and engraving, and the sheer amount of new projects it opens up, it starts to feel worth it.

For small business owners, the calculation is a bit different. The Glowforge Aura’s precision and efficiency can directly contribute to the quality of products you’re able to offer, potentially boosting your business. In this context, the Aura isn’t just a purchase; it’s an investment into your business’s capabilities and growth.

Aura’s Value for Money

From our experience, the Glowforge Aura offers considerable value for money. Yes, it’s an upfront cost, but the machine itself is sturdy, well-designed, and user-friendly. The quality of the items we’ve been able to produce has impressed us every time – crisp, professional, and exactly what we envisioned.

Another key aspect of value comes from the support and resources Glowforge provides. The community forums, how-to resources, and customer support make the learning curve much less daunting and add a lot of value that isn’t as quantifiable but is incredibly valuable, especially for those just getting their feet wet in the world of laser cutting.

Related: 9 Budget-Friendly Laser Engravers and Cutters For Wood Crafting (Expert Picks)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of laser does the Glowforge Aura use?

The Glowforge Aura uses a diode laser.

Is the Glowforge Aura suitable for beginners?

Absolutely, yes! The Aura is designed to be beginner-friendly. Its setup is straightforward, it comes with easy-to-follow instructions, and the software is super user-friendly. Plus, there’s a huge community and loads of resources to help you get started.

Do I need a Glowforge premium subscription to use the Aura printer?

Nope, you don’t need a premium subscription to start using your Aura. The machine works great with the basic Glowforge Print software, which doesn’t cost extra. However, if you want access to exclusive designs and premium features, the subscription is something worth considering.

What are some tips and tricks for maximizing the Aura’s potential?

  • Join the Glowforge community to get inspired by what others are making and share your own creations.
  • Use the Proofgrade materials at first to get the hang of how things work, as they automatically set the correct settings for you.

What is the maximum material thickness the Glowforge Aura can cut?

The Glowforge Aura can cut materials up to 1/4 inch thick.

Can the Glowforge Aura engrave on metal?

The Aura itself can’t engrave on bare metals directly. However, if you use a special coating or marking spray on the metal, the Aura can then engrave on it. This method is pretty cool for creating personalized metal items!

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How Does The Aura Compare To Other Glowforge Models (Pro & Plus)?

The Glowforge Aura is designed as an entry-level machine. It’s more affordable and compact, making it suitable for beginners or hobbyists who need a machine for smaller projects. Despite its lower price tag, it still packs enough power for a wide range of crafting tasks.

On the other end, the Glowforge Pro is the powerhouse among the three. It’s built for speed and efficiency, with features like the passthrough slot, allowing for the creation of very large projects. It’s best suited for professionals and businesses that require high productivity and versatility.

Lastly, the Glowforge Plus sits comfortably in the middle. It offers a great balance of performance and price, making it ideal for intermediate users or small businesses looking to do a variety of projects without needing the full capacity of the Pro model.

Final Verdict: Should You Get the Glowforge Aura Machine?

After thoroughly testing the Glowforge Aura and exploring everything it has to offer, it’s clear this machine is a fantastic choice for those diving into the world of crafting and small business. With its user-friendly software, precise cuts and engravings, and solid support system, the Aura stands out as a versatile and accessible tool.

However, we understand that it might not be the perfect fit for everyone. If you’re seeking alternative options with different features, the xTool M1 Laser Cutter is a worthy competitor, offering a unique set of capabilities that might better suit your specific needs.

See our full review of the xTool M1 machine.

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DIY Wooden Plans - Editorial Team
DIY Wooden Plans - Editorial Team

We’re a small team of skilled woodworkers and engineers with a combined experience of over 15 years using power tools for woodworking. We have been creating power tool tutorials since 2020. Our aim is to become the largest free woodworking power tool resource website in the industry.

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