Reimagining 3D Printing with the Glowforge 3D Laser Printer

Benjamin Cebulash
PD Specialist
News on January 19 2021

As more products emerge in the STEM and STEAM space for education, Glowforge has reimagined 3D printing. With its component website, educators and students can access over ten million different prints and unique access to resources for the K-12 classroom teacher. Visit their site for a variety of different resources to help you get started with your first class project.

What is a Glowforge 3D laser printer?

Glowforge is built on laser cutting and engraving technologies, using a beam of laser light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and create designs from various materials. While traditional 3D printers build up and out, Glowforge creates by going in and through an existing piece of material, and carving out a design using laser light. The technical name for the category of tools that includes Glowforge is a CNC laser cutter engraver, but it is also referred to as a 3D laser printer.   

What type of materials can you use with a Glowforge 3D laser printer?

A Glowforge 3D laser printer cuts wood, fabric, leather, paper, Plexiglas (acrylic), Delrin (acetal), mylar, rubber, Corian, foods, and more. Additionally, Glowforge engraves on all of the materials mentioned above plus the following:

  • Glass
  • Coated metal
  • Marble
  • Anodized aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Some phones, tablets, laptops, and more 

Glowforge also has a line of materials designed for use with the printer, including hardwood, acrylic, plywood, and leather. These materials are guaranteed by Glowforge to always work. 

What software and hardware are needed to use the Glowforge 3D laser printer?

Glowforge is compatible with Mac, PC, tablet, and more, using their free web interface. You will need an up-to-date version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Apple Safari, or Microsoft Edge to access the site.

While using Glowforge, you can design with any software that saves a PDF including dozens of choices like:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Inkscape
  • CorelDraw
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • GIMP
  • Autodesk 360
  • Sketchup
  • Microsoft Word
  • PowerPoint

Glowforge can also print JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, and other file formats. The web interface, point-and-click software, and simple hardware combine to make it easy to use. 

Supporting STEM and STEAM curriculums


Bring your Glowforge 3D laser printer to your classroom, library, studio, or makerspace and enable STEAM projects in an entirely new way. Since Glowforge uses a laser to cut and engrave limitless designs from hundreds of materials, students can engage with projects like architectural models, shadow box dioramas, and classroom signs — just to name a few. Also, consider the following when evaluating this product for STEM and STEAM curriculum:

  • Foster Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math multidisciplinary thinking
  • Design Thinking fundamentals like ideation and prototyping
  • Exercise design fundamentals with 2D and 3D objects
  • Enable students at any level from K-12 through higher education
  • Create forensic science dioramas, model-scale architectural plans, working clocks, and multi-print designs

How to set-up and create an account with Glowforge

1. Go to glowforge.com/setup.

2. Follow the prompts there to create your very own Glowforge account.

3. Go to setup.glowforge.com to begin the setup process.

Lastly, the Glowforge is a unique and limitless type of 3D printer that can also be used in conjunction with so many other STEM and STEAM products that your school may already have. Imagine the types of 3D models one could create using the Glowforge and a traditional 3D printer, such as a MakerBot or Ultimaker. Or, consider how it could be used with your school’s robots or robotic devices, circuit kits, coding programs, hardware, and more. The possibilities are endless!


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom check out more articles on our blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.