Glowforge has released the laser of every crafters dreams: the Glowforge Aura. Let's take a look at what this new Laser has to offer and do a full review.
*this post may contain affiliate links that help earn me a small commission at no charge to you. Read my full disclosure here. As a disclaimer: I did received my Glowforge Aura as a gift, but will give a full and honest review.
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Welcome to the Craft Room: the Glowforge Aura
So, let's start by talking about what the Glowforge Aura actual is, it's the first ever Craft LaserTM from Glowforge. This laser is going to revolutionize the craft world for hobbyists and professionals. It's more compact that it's predecessors and a great leap for those wanting to dip their toes into Laser crafting.
This machine comes in a compact package but has a lot of power, weighing only 19 pounds, the Glowforge Aura is truly remarkable. It takes up a small amount of space at 5 inches high, 22 inches in length and 20.5 inches in width, your cutting area is 12x12 but with the size open you can potentially cut forever. There is no automatic belt to move your blank canvas but you have the ability to pass a piece of wood, acrylic or SO MANY other materials through the sides.
I am going to go on and talk about materials briefly (I will have to do a whole other blog post on this in the future) but scroll down for a basic materials list and details on Proofgrade materials. Let's start by saying that you can work with hundreds of materials and as a bonus this means ones that are much thicker than what a blade cutter can cut through.
You are able to upload your own designs, use or purchase so many designs from Glowforge/Glowforge Premium, or use their new AI capabilities called Magic Canvas. Plus with Aura Vision you are able to preview your design on your material with the camera that is built into your Glowforge Aura.
The Craft Laser and the Air Filter as sold separately but the Air Filter is quiet and works like a dream cleaning up 99.9% of the particles in the air. Incredible.
Let's jump into some details.
Glowforge Aura Materials
So, your main question has to be: what can I cut with my Glowforge Aura and trust me you are going to be shocked. You can cut over 100 materials up to 1/4 inch thick plus this machine has engraving and scoring capabilities. So far, I have personally tested cardstock (yes like paper - 80 lb weight) and it lasered BEAUTIFULLY, I have also cut a slew of the Proofgrade woods, engraved faux leather, and tested out their Proofgrade acrylic. They even have Craft Laser ready Iron On Vinyl! MIND BLOWING!! This machines precision when cutting is incredible. My letters for my chicken coop sign cut out so clean and the results looks incredibly professional.
Glowforge Proofgrade Materials
What is a Proofgrade material? These are materials straight from Glowforge that are laser compatible and easy to cut. They have a protective film on them and a QR code that your Glowforge Aura can read and calibrate your machine for precise cut settings.
The materials that you can find that are in the Proofgrade catalogue are a variety of woods such as Basswood, Cherry, Walnut, wood vaneers, light woodn and hard wood. A variety of acrylics as well as that iron on vinyl and leather sheets.
In terms of cutting purchasing Proofgrade materials is a great way to get your feet wet when it comes to laser cutting. Your Glowforge Aura is such a beginner friendly laser and with the add ons of Proofgrade materials, you will be able to cut with the ease of knowing its safe and all the settings are correct.
What CAN'T the Glowforge Aura Cut?
This may disappoint a few crafters, but the Glowforge Aura cannot cut clear or transparent Acrylic sheets like it's mama lasers can from Glowforge. I know that was one of my first questions when I was asked to be a Glowforge Partner. Please do not let this one material deter you from the many other things it can cut! This is a diode laser which is still powerful but has some limitations compared to its CO2 mom.
You will also have to avoid certain PVC sheets, chromium based materials, carbon based materials and a few other items. When you purchase, you will be able to see the full guide and I plan on doing many many more tutorials and guides on cutting with your Glowforge Aura.
Glowforge Aura Set Up
I feel like we might be jumping backwards, but let's talk about the easy set up Glowforge has put in place for the Aura.
Once you have your Glowforge Aura out of the packaging, you will remove the foam inside the machine. The laser head will be sort of floating and you will attach this via magnets to the base.
After this, you do some manual aligning of the laser and the rollers with your fingers gently.
Place the cutting tray found in the box at the bottom of the Craft Laser.
Find the vent hose, remove the plug and attach the vent hose to the back. You will attach your vent house to your Glowforge Personal Filter if you have one (these things are magic and pair automatically via Bluetooth).
Next, connect the power cord to the back of your machine and plug it in.
Now, you head over to the Glowforge App and start connecting your machine for your first cuts.
You also get to name your machines which I love, mine is Auriana Glowde.
Make sure to unbox your Glowforge Personal Air Filter and remove any plastic coverings that maybe inside the machine.
Once you have followed the steps on the Glowforge App, you can begin cutting. I was unboxed and making my first cut within 20 minutes. So in terms of ease of use and set up - the Glowforge Aura gets an A from me.
Glowforge App with the Glowforge Aura
The Glowforge App is an online application, unlike others where you download it to your desktop or iPad, this is accessed via a web browser. You will create an account like most apps and there is a free version and a paid premium Subscription. They of course give you a free trial of Premium and the Premium subscribe is a $50 per month option and comes with a lot of resources. If you are unable to purchase right away, you can still work with the machine and make magical crafts. I definitely plan on adding a whole Glowforge Aura craft vault to my blog in the future!
Another amazing feature is pictured below Aura Vision - where you can see your canvas to move around your images and utilize your canvas to the max.
The other thing I love in the Glowforge App is the Magic Canvas - a new AI tool they have provided. You can type anything in and Magic Canvas will give you art work that you can engrave into your material. The future is so unreal sometimes.
As for the premium subscription - you have access to so many images and projects from Glowforge which for me as a beginning into the laser world, I find super helpful.
Where to Purchase the Glowforge Aura and the Cost
The Glowforge Aura is not going to be available on the Glowforge website just yet - however you can purchase your Proofgrade materials from there. To purchase your Glowforge Aura you will want to head over to Joann's Craft Stores or Michaels Craft Stores either in person or online. The price of the Glowforge Aura is going to be $1,199 with the Personal Air Filter coming in at $399. You do have to purchase these two separately. The Personal Air Filter is optional and you can always vent out a window of your house if you want to save the money at first. In terms of cost though, for a personal laser, I find this to be a totally reasonable price.
Final Thoughts on the Glowforge Aura Craft Laser
This Craft Laser is an amazing addition to any craft room and I am so grateful to have one in mine.
The ease of use and beginner friendly set up makes it an excellent gap from a blade cutting machine to a laser. It's ability to cut things from cardstock paper to iron on vinyl to wood is truly incredible. As someone who is both a hobby crafter and a professional crafter, having this Craft Laser available to use has been a dream.
Of course, there are always frustrations when it comes to something new and I have to say, most are going to be user error. You have to consider your lay outs of SVGs are going to be different than of other apps and that you will have to learn a new process so be gentle with yourself and make sure to come back to this blog for even more beginner friendly Glowforge Aura tutorials.
The Proofgrade materials can be pricey and if you aren't new here, I love a good budget friendly craft but until I can figure out more settings independently, I will be splurging for Proofgrade. The loading and reading of the QR codes is incredible. I felt so much pressure lifted off of me.
The Magic Canvas is beyond cool and I need to dive deeper into this and it's ability, I think when getting your feet wet maybe stick to some of the Premium or free designs. I do want to test out magic canvas for some wall art or even a cutting board.
The Premium subscription is totally worth it to me, I know not everyone can afford a $50 a month subscription so I don't want you to feel pressured because it is optional but the amount of designs they have and this machine being so powerful. I just find the subscription worth the cost.
Overall, I have to say I am blown away by this machine - if you have any questions or concerns about the Glowforge Aura don't hesitate to shoot me an email below for us to start a conversation!