Laser not firing

The laser on my Glowforge stopped firing. And by “my”, I mean my wife’s that I get to occasionally use. Everything else seems to work. The head is moving, dutifully tracing out a phantom non-existent cut. Just no laser. We’ve sent it in for repairs before, but now its no longer under warranty. I’m a software engineer by trade and have electrical engineers and software engineers that work for me. I’m going to try to troubleshoot and fix it myself. Obviously, lack of documentation is always an issue. First, any advice? I was going to start with the power supply. It worries me a bit because I assume the power to the laser is continuous, not switched. I have it opened and cleaned up a bit. I don’t see any obvious test points and I’m leery about disconnecting the power cables from the tube itself.

Has anybody created any drawings of the stock Glowforge?

A couple mandatory safety points: Working on the power supply involves exposure to mains and very high voltage - both of which can kill you. This is not something that someone without experience in mains connected HV power supplies should undertake. Extreme caution is required.


Accordingly, everything discussed here is hypothetical, and should not be construed as directions - they are not.

Also, I’m going from memory here, so the information below may not be 100%… You’ve been warned.

Working inside the supply itself does require complete removal from the Glowforge. This is a pain. The HV line is threaded through the gantry and the cable carrier and is difficult to remove and reinstall. I tie a string to it before pulling it out so that I have an easier way to fish it back through to reinstall it. Additionally, anyone working on the supply should use a high voltage dummy load that matches the tube, rather than having it connected to the laser.

That being said… One should really be certain they have a problem with the power supply to begin with. Assuming one has have done the normal t-shoot routine (tried to cut the Gift of Good Measure, checked that laser power isn’t set to 1%, etc), they could start with verifying the signals that the control board sends to the power supply.

Accessing the control board while the device is functioning is a challenge. I usually remove the X and Y axis belts (after homing, of course). If I must leave the laser connected, I drape a leather welding apron over the dangerous parts to block errant exposure to the laser, ensure that the laser is firing into a proper test target, and wear my laser safety glasses.

The test points of interest can be found on the control board below the power connector on the top left:

While the device is enabled, all three power rails should be active: +40VDC, +12VDC and +3.3VDC.

As for the rest of signals (All 0.0 - 3.3VDC):

A2B: HV Charge Pump. This is a periodic short pulse that comes from the control program. It’s essentially a “heart beat” that tells the power supply that the control program is running. You need a scope with a one-shot trigger to see it. It is an infrequent and very short pulse (less than a ms if I recall correctly) and not easy to see.
B2C: HV PWM. This is the signal that determines the power of the laser. For most engraving operations, this is steady. It only seems to be used to control power when doing scores or cuts. You should see a regular PWM square wave signal here.
A2D: LASER ON: This is self explanatory… When this is high, the laser is energized.
B2F: HV Current: This is an analog signal indicating the current being sunk into the tube. I’m not sure how to convert this to a usable value, yet.
A2C: PFC_STOP: This is the output of pin 9 of a L6599AT controller inside the power supply. This controller is responsible for the HV supply. This output will go low (0V) when the supply is not running or when it has been shutdown by the protection circuit.

For reference, this is the HV control PCB from the power supply:

Have you ruled out user error? The biggest cause of this problem is the power setting reverting to “1” without the user noticing.


I second that. Check all your settings.

I finally started troubleshooting it. I figured out how to get the logs and I’m fairly certain it has nothing to do with the power supply. I really did not want to troubleshoot the power supply anyway, for obvious reasons.

Did you ever figure this out? Your original post sounds like my same situation – wife’s Glowforge (Plus) quit firing, though it still behaves as though it’s tracing the path of the piece it’s supposed to be creating. Problem started yesterday, halfway through a piece, it simply stopped lasering, just kept gyrating like it was doing what it was supposed to do, except no laser light hitting the wood, no etching happening, not cutting… it finished doing its dance and then went to the home position, as if everything was fine and it had done exactly what it was supposed to, only half of the piece was just blank wood, where the laser had quit working.

Today when attempting to get it working again, doing the “Gift of Good Measure” on a piece of Glowforge-branded wood, I noticed it was making a rapid tapping or grinding noise when doing the measurement marks at the top of the “Gift,” where the head is sweeping back and forth while rapidly turning the laser on and off to engrave the ruler lines. It did not make this noise when it was engraving the fat line on either side of the Glowforge name, nor when doing the cut lines. It only did it when it would need to rapidly cycle the laser on and off. Of course, the laser did not come on at any point of this, the head just moved around as though it was doing its job, then finished up and went to the home position.

Another thing that might be worthy of noting is it needed to cool down after this. It took a couple of minutes of sitting after finishing before it said it was done cooling down (web interface, top right). The button didn’t change color on the machine, it just said this on the web interface, but that seems odd since the laser isn’t firing.