How to Use Your Glowforge Without the Crumb Tray
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Have you been wanting to try a Glowforge project that’s too thick to use with the crumb tray, but don’t know where to start? It can be a bit intimidating (it was for me!) but is actually pretty simple. And learning how to do it will put a whole new set of creative possibilities at your fingertips!
Last week was my youngest son’s birthday and I wanted to engrave an AirPod case cover for him. But the case cover was pretty thick – thicker than what the crumb tray would allow. Time to learn more about Glowforging without the tray!
Low High Can You Go?
The thickness of any material placed on the crumb tray must be 0.5 inches or less. Without the tray, the Glowforge can accommodate materials up to 2.0 inches thick. However, even when working with materials that are over 0.5 inches, the maximum cutting/engraving depth is limited to 0.5 inches.
What a Difference a Tray Makes
The crumb tray measures approximately 1.4 inches from its base to the top of the honeycomb. This means that the surface of any item you plan to laser must be at least 1.4 inches above the floor of the Glowforge AND allow for the desired cutting/engraving depth.
For example, an object that is 2 inches thick can be placed directly on the floor of the Glowforge and take advantage of the full cutting/engraving depth of approximately 0.5 inches. (Keep in mind that cutting/engraving over 0.125 inches deep may require multiple passes or flipping the item over and cutting again on the reverse.)
An object that is between 1.4 inches and 2 inches can be placed directly on the floor of the Glowforge but the cutting/engraving depth will be limited to the area that extends above 1.4 inches. To take advantage of the full depth, the object must be raised to where the surface is 2.0 inches above the floor of the Glowforge.
An object 1.4 inches or less must be raised enough to place the surface within the cutting/engraving area.
Raise it Up!
Begin by measuring your object with a caliper. This is the digital caliper I have and I love it! My oldest son gave it to me for Christmas because he thought it would come in handy with the Glowforge. He was right 😉 .
The AirPod case cover is 0.97 inches (rounded from 0.9690).
Choose your cutting/engraving depth. The leather of the AirPod case cover is very thin, and I barely wanted to scratch the surface, so the measurement is negligible in this case. For purposes of illustration, we’ll use 0.1 inches and then adjust the laser speed and power settings to create a shallow engraving.
Calculate the amount needed to raise the object to the desired height.
What this means is that I will need to find something (laser-safe!) to place under the AirPod cover that is between 0.53 inches and 1.03 inches.
Looking around at what I had on hand, I found two acrylic circles (0.125 inches each) and a cork trivet (.39 inches) that would do the trick.
To remove the tray, lift the lid of the Glowforge and swing down the front door. Lift the crumb tray slightly and slide it toward you (it’s heavier than it looks!). Be careful not to bump the printer head or rails*. (I removed mine with the power off.)
Place your material(s) on the Glowforge floor. Depending on how light the material is, you may want to secure with masking tape or something similar that will not harm the finish.
Close the front door and the lid. Turn on the power.
Open the design in the Glowforge app. Wait for the printer head to center. Set the focus in the center of the area to be engraved.
Enter the custom materials settings. The focus height will already be set to “auto”.
The settings I used for the AirPod case cover were:
Lines Per Inch: 170
Press the button and watch the magic happen!
When you are finished, remove your project from the Glowforge. Slide the crumb tray horizontally back into its original position. Again, be careful not to bump the printer head or rails. Make sure all four feet are positioned in the small dimples on the floor of the Glowforge so that the tray does not slide*.
Like what you see here? Share the image below to Pinterest!
Ready to tackle a Glowforge project without the crumb tray? I hope so! If you have any questions, leave me a comment below or come visit over in the Silhouette Crafters by Design Facebook group. I’m always happy to help!
Until next time,
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*Source: Glowforge User Manual, version 2.6, pp. 40-41
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.
Super helpful – thank you! I am new to GF and have been trying to figure out when to use and not use the crumb tray. This is the best explanation I’ve seen!
Thank you so much for the nice comment Lisa! I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful!