The Flux Beamo and Glowforge are two very similar machines – enclosed laser cutter and engravers with major power at mid-range prices. So, how do you decide which is the right choice for you?
That’s what we intend to help you with in this guide. We compare the Flux Beamo vs Glowforge laser cutter in each area, including size and working area, laser power, speed, compatible materials, and software, so you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
Glowforge vs Flux Beamo: At a Glance
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In many ways – particularly appearance – the Beamo and Glowforge are very similar, but there are some key differences between the two.
For starters, the Glowforge is larger and more powerful than the standard Beamo (although Flux also offers the Beambox and Beambox Pro, similar machines that match the Glowforge in this regard).
So, while the Beamo is specifically designed for maximum compactness, the Glowforge models allow you to work on larger projects and are more effective at cutting and engraving harder materials.
However, the Beamo also has some advantages over the Glowforge. Arguably the main one is its upgradeability, with Flux offering various additional components. For example, the rotary module allows you to work with circular objects and increases the maximum material height of your Beamo – something that’s not possible with the Glowforge.
There’s little to separate the two in other areas such as software quality, usability, and machine assembly, with both ranking high in this regard.
Let’s now take a closer look at how they match up to help you make your decision.
Size & Cutting Area
|Glowforge Plus / Pro||38×20.75×8.25”||20x18x2”|
The size is one of the main differences between the Flux Beamo and Glowforge machines.
The Beamo is aimed specifically at people looking for a smaller, compact machine and has dimensions of 24.21×17.52×6.97”, while the Glowforge (all three models) measure 38×20.75×8.25”. This translates to cutting areas of 8.25×11.75” and 20x18x2” respectively.
However, bear in mind that the Glowforge Pro (the most expensive model) has a passthrough slot that allows you to work with materials of unlimited length.
So, while the Beamo restricts you to working on smaller projects (A4 size), it’s very compact and can easily fit in small home workshops. In contrast, the Glowforge allows you to work on larger pieces but is heavier and requires larger desktop and storage space.
If you like the Beamo but want a larger working area, Flux offers three similar but larger (and more expensive) machines:
- Beambox – 31.5 x 26.3 x 9.85”
- Beambox Pro – 39 x 26.3 x 9.85”
- Hexa – 43.7 x 26.3 x 10.75”
Laser Power & Compatible Materials
|Brand/Machine||Laser Power||Compatible Materials|
for Engraving Only
|Flux Beamo||30/40/50/60W CO₂ laser||Fabric, acrylic, wood, cardboard, leather||Rubber, glass, ceramic, anode metal, stone, stainless steel|
|Glowforge Plus / Pro||40/45W CO₂ laser||Wood, paper, fabric, leather, cardboard, mylar, cork, sandpaper, acrylic, rubber||Glass, stone, marble, titanium, ceramic tile, Corian, rubber stamps, anodized aluminum|
As you may expect having read the previous section, the smaller Beamo uses less powerful 30W CO2 lasers in contrast to the Glowforge, which uses 40/45W CO2 lasers depending on which model you go for.
So, while there’s still a fair bit of overlap in terms of what materials you can work with, the Glowforge does provide more powerful cutting.
According to the Flux website, the Beamo can cut fabric (up to 9mm on fast pass), acrylic and wood (3mm), cardboard (2mm), and leather (1mm). It can also engrave (but not cut) a variety of harder materials, including rubber, glass, ceramic, anode metal, stone, and stainless steel with spray or diode add-on.
You can do all this with a Glowforge, but the more powerful lasers mean you can cut and engrave the same materials faster and deeper.
Bear in mind that Flux’s other machines, the Beambox, Beambox Pro and Hexa offer more powerful lasers than the Beamo – 40W, 50W, and 60W respectively.
While some machines have a laser as well as other tools, both the Beamo and Glowforge are only capable of laser engraving. If you’re interested in a multifunctional machine, one popular option is the Snapmaker 2.0 – check out our Snapmaker vs Glowforge comparison to learn more.
Cutting speed is another important factor to consider, particularly if you’re working on lots of projects or using your laser cutter for a small business venture, so how do the Beamo and Glowforge match up in this regard?
It’s always difficult to directly compare engraving and cutting speeds of different machines as there are so many variables in play, not least the settings and material you’re working with.
However, the Beamo has a max speed of 20mm/s – it limits you to this speed as any higher will have a negative impact on the accuracy of your work. Bear in mind that some users have reported that engraving 20mm/s and higher causes their Beambox to wobble.
Glowforge is a bit more vague when it comes stating speeds – the specs say that the average print takes 12 minutes, with the 45W Pro being twice as fast as the 40W Basic and Plus models. However, Glowforge is considered one of the slower laser engravers on the market.
It’s worth noting that Glowforge has its own materials range called Proofgrade Materials, spanning acrylic, leather, hardwood, and plywood. These are very high quality and are tested to provide fantastic results with a Glowforge laser engraver, and also help you to determine and maintain consistent optimal cutting speeds.
|Software package:||Beam Studio, |
downloadable from website
|Web interface only, |
has built-in design catalog
|Operating systems:||Win, Mac, Linux, mobile OS||Win, Mac, Linux, mobile OS|
|Compatible file formats:||JPG, PNG, SVG, DXF||JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF|
|Software integration:||Adobe Illustrator||—|
|Camera:||Wide angle camera||Wide angle camera|
Both the Beamo and Glowforge come with their own software packages for creating and executing designs, but which is best?
Let’s start by looking at Beam Studio, a simple and user-friendly yet powerful software compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile operating systems.
It’s very intuitive to use and makes it easy to create a variety of different projects, from basic shapes to bezier curves and detailed etchings. The Beamo also comes with a built-in camera module, so you can easily scan the workbed and then drag and drop designs in Beam Studio.
Beam Studio is integrated with Adobe Illustrator and can import JPG, PNG, SVG, and DXF files, so you can work in other design programs like AutoCAD, CorelDraw, SktechUp, and Photoshop and then import your designs.
Glowforge’s eponymous laser engraving software is similarly intuitive and beginner-friendly. Like the Beamo, Glowforge laser cutters have wide-angle cameras to take pictures of your material and allow for easy drag and dropping in the program. You can even use it to engrave hand drawn illustrations.
The Glowforge software has a built-in catalog of designs, which can be helpful if you’re new to digital design, and it’s compatible with various file formats including JPG, PNG, PDF, and SVG.
One major difference between the two, however, is that Beamo Studio is a downloadable software while Glowforge is only online.
This means that the Glowforge software can only be used if you have a WiFi connection, and if Glowforge was to go out of business and stop supporting the software, this could affect the Glowforge’s usability. For this reason, the Beamo takes this round.
Some laser engravers come completely unassembled, and putting them together not only takes time, but it can also be tricky for novices. Luckily, this isn’t the case with either the Beamo or Glowforge, both of which come close to being fully assembled.
Both are ‘plug and play’ devices that simply require you to connect the cables and air extractor, download and set up the software, and make a few minor tweaks and you’re good to go.
Flux offers a few optional components for the Beamo that you can purchase and use to upgrade the functionality of your machine. Perhaps the most interesting one is the rotary module.
This will set you back around $500 but greatly increases the scope of your projects as it allows you to work with circular objects, like pens, glasses and vases – any circular object ranging from 8mm-90mm in diameter.
It also acts as an extended base for your Beamo, greatly increasing the maximum material height from 45mm to 105mm, allowing you to work on larger objects.
Flux also offers a 5W diode laser which is better for engraving anodized aluminum and steel. You can add an autofocus module to your Beamo for around $300, although Glowforge machines come with autofocus built in.
Both Flux and Glowforge offer air filters for their machines for extra protection and safety. Both are pricey but the Glowforge one is a fair bit more expensive, costing around $1,500 in comparison to Flux’s which retails for closer to $1,000.
Glowforge doesn’t really offer any upgrade components for its machines, so the Beamo is the winner here.
Customer Support & Community
Glowforge offers both online and phone support via US and UK numbers, which is nice as many people prefer to get support over the phone. All details can be found on the Glowforge contact page.
All Flux laser cutters come with a 12-month warranty. Glowforge provides a six-month warranty on the Basic and 12-month warranties on the Plus and Pro models.
Price & Value for Money
There are three versions of the Glowforge which retail as follows:
- Basic – $3,995 – Available at Glowforge here
- Plus – $4,995 – Available at Glowforge here / Check price on Amazon here / Dynamism here
- Pro – $6,995 – Available at Glowforge here / Dynamism here
As you can see, the Glowforge models are considerably more expensive, with the cheapest one being close to double the price of the Flux Beamo. However, it’s important to remember that the differences in size and power are one of the main reasons behind this.
Cutting area and laser power are two of the main factors that determine a machine’s price, so it’s only natural for the Glowforge to cost more than the Beamo.
Which engraver offers the best value ultimately comes down to preference. The Beamo is specifically designed for maximum compactness, while the Glowforge offers more premium options, so both offer good value to different people.
Overall, the differences between the Flux Beamo and Glowforge – and their consequent benefits and disadvantages – are clear.
By far the main distinguishing factors are size and power – the Flux Beamo being designed for maximum compactness, and therefore being significantly smaller and less powerful than the Glowforge, although also much cheaper.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Beamo’s cousins – the Beambox and Beambox Pro – are larger and more powerful, making them much more similar to the Glowforge Basic, Plus, and Pro models.
These laser engravers are very similar in terms of assembly, usability, and software, but bear in mind the Beamo is more customizable and upgradeable. The optional rotary module is handy as it allows you to work with circular objects, something you can’t do with the Glowforge.
Overall, it’s impossible to say one is better than the other – it all comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a small, budget-friendly option, the Beamo is likely the most appealing.
If you’re looking for a more powerful engraver, the Glowforge or Beambox are going to be better options.
Is Beamo as good as Glowforge?
What is equivalent to a Glowforge?
One of the most similar machines to the Glowforge is the Flux Beamo, another laser engraver encased within a printer-like casing. Flux’s Beambox and Beambox Pro are also similar to the Glowforge – to learn more about the differences and similarities between these machines, read our Flux Beamo vs Glowforge guide.