The newest craft laser on the market is the Glowforge Aura, a sleek and powerful machine that is designed for your craft room. Let’s dive in and learn all about this laser.
This post may contain affiliate links, view my full disclosure policy.
What is Glowforge
Glowforge is a company that makes 3D laser printers. They began with a desktop CO2 laser that can cut and engrave hundreds of items within a large machine. These machines are priced high and pack a ton of power and features. A CO2 laser is amazing, but not in the budget for most crafters.
In 2023, Glowforge introduced the Aura, a diode craft laser meant to be used in homes and craft rooms everywhere.
I’ve shared a few other craft lasers here on YouTube similar to the Aura. These are all diode lasers that are meant to be used by crafters in your home. Take a look at this video, how to choose a diode laser, to learn what you should be looking for when making a buying decision.
Glowforge Aura Craft Laser
Let’s talk about the Glowforge Aura; it’s features, specifications and capabilities.
This laser is sleek and slim, fitting nicely on a set of Ikea Alex drawers. It measures 20.5 x 22 x 5 inches and weighs 19 pounds. The white enclosure and orange lid give it a fun modern look.
The laser is fully enclosed with a hose on the back that can vent out a window or connect to the personal air filter. These two features ensure you can safely use this laser inside without harming your eyes or the air around you.
The laser itself is a 6W diode laser, this is a powerful machine that can cut and engrave hundreds of materials. Inside the machine, the work area can accommodate a 12×12 piece of material and cut pieces up to 1/4 inch thick. It can engrave an item up to 3/4 inch thick.
Within the laser head is an air assist fan helping to keep the machine and material cool, this works in combination with the vent hose and air filter to create a safe environment for crafting.
The Aura has passthrough slots on either side that can accommodate material up to 12 inches long and as wide as you like.
The inside cover has an LED light and a camera. The Aura Vision camera scans a QR code on Proofgrade materials to identify and set specific cut settings for each piece. It also provides an image, reflected in the software, to show you exactly where your designs will be cut and engraved.
The Aura comes almost completely assembled with easy instructions. You’ll be set up and creating in no time.
What can the Glowforge Aura cut
A 6W diode laser is powerful enough to cut through materials up to 1/4″ thick and engrave many more. A diode cannot cut clear materials nor can it cut certain types of metal. A full list of compatible materials can be found here.
A few examples of what the Aura can cut are
- Wood – solid, plywood and veneer
- Acrylic (opaque)
This laser is able to engrave all of the above plus
Glowforge Proofgrade materials are specially sourced and made to work perfectly with your machine. They are pre-masked, which ensures sharp clean cut and engrave lines. Each Proofgrade material comes with a smart code that can be read by the camera. Cut and engrave settings are automatically adjusted to work quick projects and perfect results.
With the Aura, Glowforge introduced an Eco Heat Transfer Vinyl Alternative that works safely with the laser. This is the first of its kind and allows you to use the Aura like you would a Cricut to make all kinds of iron on projects. Regular vinyl and iron on are not safe to use with a laser.
Glowforge Print app
The Aura comes with 1 cord that plugs into the wall. The software connection is wireless so you can operate this with any internet ready device – phone, tablet, Chromebook or computer. The web-based app is easy to use and works with the built in camera to recognize Proofgrade materials and adjust the settings for a perfect cut every time.
This easy to use software is free and comes with a lot of basic options for creating. You can upload your own designs and images to cut and engrave. You can also use built in shapes, text and graphics.
Glowforge Premium is an optional upgrade that gives you access to a vast catalog of free designs, Magic canvas, more robust creative tools and more.
The Glowforge catalog can be found within the software. This is a huge collection of ready-to-print designs made by creators. Everything is set for you, just choose the materials and print. You can pay for designs individually, but with Glowforge Premium they are free!
Glowforge vs other diode lasers
Watch for a full video comparing the Glowforge Aura to the xTool M1 soon. Until then, take a look at this video overview of the Aura.
The Aura is small and sleek which means it will fit well in most craft rooms. Other open lasers like the Ortur models require a bit more space and precautions because they are not enclosed. The enclosure and compact size does increase the price.
The xTool M1 is enclosed and has many of the same features as the Aura, but the footprint is larger. However, it still fits nicely on a set of Alex drawers.
A few positives include the built in camera, passthrough slots and easy to use web based software.
Some lower priced diode lasers use free open source software such as LaserGRBL or a paid option like LightBurn. Both function really well but there is a learning curve.
The Glowforge software is truly easy to use and takes the guess work out of laser cutting and engraving. Material settings and focus are calculated for you, all you have to do it place a material in the machine and press the button when you’re ready to print.
One downside is the height of the machine. There is not option to engrave bulkier items like tumblers or a cutting board. You are limited to flat surfaces around 1/4 inch thick. With the xTool M1 you can remove the base and add risers to accommodate a rotary tool for tumblers.
Where to buy
The Aura retails for $1199 which includes the machine and vent hose. The personal air filter is an optional add on for $399 that will allow you to place and use the Aura anywhere.
Proofgrade materials range in price from $5 on up depending on the type. Remember you can use any laser compatible materials with this machine, but you will have to manually input the cut settings.
Is this the right craft laser for you?
The Glowforge Aura is an amazing new product that fits the needs of crafters. The company has done a great job understanding their audience and making something that creatives can use to further our crafts.
If you have been thinking about a laser and wanting to get one for your hobby or small business this may be right for you. Here are a few reasons to consider the Aura.
- Easy to use software that accepts your custom designs while providing tools and graphics to create.
- Sleek and slim, fits well in a craft room.
- Fully enclosed with venting options to create a safe environment.
- It can cut and engrave a wide variety of materials.
A few drawbacks to keep in mind, depending on what you want to create these may not matter to you.
- The height is set, you can only use flat thin materials in this machine. No raised or irregular shaped pieces and no tumblers.
- Price. At $1199 this is an investment. There are lower cost craft lasers with fewer features that could work for your needs.
Overall I would recommend the Glowforge Aura to a crafter looking to expand her capabilities and materials. Understand what you are buying and know it’s limitations, then enjoy the process! This is truly and fun and easy machine to work with.
If you liked this post, consider sharing and pinning it.
Drop any questions in the comments, I’d love to chat.
Thanks for visiting!