Darkly Labs Community

Expected Material Cutting Thickness for E2?

Hi, I am considering your cutter over GlowForge primarily due to shipping costs and support of Australia products. But some things concern me. The main thing is the cutting thickness this machine will be able to do. You mention in the promo text that it’s a new and improved 5+Watt solid state laser but not what this actually means compared to the first model. I found the info about the expected cutting thickness for some material in the first machine but not the upcoming E2. This is an absolute deciding factor for me since I would like to do 5-6mm acrylic, wood and ply; more if possible.

Thanks for your time.

Hi Brook,

We are in the process of finalising our optical lenses and setup. We have not rushed this so we can have the best performance possible from our laser system.

Our preliminary tests are very good and a significant improvement over the current Emblaser 1.

The Emblaser 2 has a number of improvement which will all add to the cutting performance. Apart from the extra laser power and improved lens system, there is also the ability to control the z-axis height and air-assist accessory. 

Before we can confidently start quoting cutting results, all these combinations need to be tested and verified.

We are excited to start posting these results publicly. It is not too far away.

With respect to the Emblaser and Glowforge, please remember that they use different laser technologies and are difficult to compare. They are also in a different price bracket to each other.


Hi Domenic

It’s the second time I read something about different laser technologies. Can you enlighten me? What exactly is the difference? I’m comparing the two cutters and I am having a hard time understanding what product would be better for me.

I want to use the cutter for personal use / weddings of friends and families. But I surely can say that after a year or at latest after the weddings many more around me will ask for engraved/cutted signs etc. Can I use the Emblaser a lot or is it just meant for a couple of times a week? 

Thank you!


Hi Laura,

The fundamental difference between the two machines is the laser technology. The Glowforge uses a CO2 laser tube to generate its laser where-as the Emblaser uses a laser diode. CO2 lasers can generate much higher laser powers than a laser diode but at a cost.

Here is a “very” basic difference between the two:

CO2: higher laser power hence can cut thicker materials, NIR laser frequency which means it can work on transparent materials, bigger, heavier and more complex to setup and keep focused. Generally more expensive.

Laser Diode: limited laser power hence can’t cut as thick materials as CO2. The 445nm laser frequency produces better tonal results on materials for engraving, small compact and cheaper. Longer lifetime.

The Emblaser was not designed to compete with the Glowforge but it seems from our customers it is ticking many of the boxes they are looking for in a laser system, especially being half the price of a GF. We designed it with the experience from our Emblaser 1 which already has a very large customer base. We concentrated on the things that are important to customers and tried to avoid what we call “novelty” features are great for making demonstrations but will be rarely used.

The Emblaser is designed to be used continuously if needed. It is not a once-a-week machine. We have many customers running them around the clock for their businesses all over the world.

Hope that helps.

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Amazing! thank you so much! 

Hi Laura, if you are after something to cut invitations in presumably card or paper, then the Emblaser does that without an issue.It also has a much smaller footprint than the Glowforge and weighs a whole lot less so can be easily carted around and put away when not in use rather than taking up permanent space on a bench or whatever.


From what you say you intend to use it for I’m assuming that you will be using mainly card and paper? They are my main materials too, though for architectural modelling  - but I can say that the emblaser performs brilliantly, This is about 15 layers of 210gsm card as part of a model of a Gothic church… (they are still just ‘plonked’ on each other, not yet glued -  hence some misalignment and wayward bits!)




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That looks fantastic! Thank you for sharing - I love to see projects done with the E1 - helps me a lot! and you are right -  paper, card and thin wood i’d use it for. 

Its a bit of a long read, but here’s a forum about the Emblaser 1 that I started in February, Its  from a modelling point of view but covers paper, card and wood, and the effectiveness and quirks of laser cutting…



I’m not intending to hijack this post and please move it if needed but there was an aspect of Emblaser 2 that would be great to get clarified.

The design is intended to utilize a laser diode module that may be expanded on in the future… right?

I know you possibly can not comment on things that have not been publicly released but is it possible other laser diode modules such as those in the NIR wavelength and possibly other power levels may come for the 2 in the future? 

If so than these may have different cutting properties, materials effects, etc that we can use to expand our use of the machine.

Any thoughts appreciated.



I have been lurking in the Railroad modelers website since I stumbled over your blog trying to research the Emblaser. You guys do some amazing work and it is a great place to learn about the laser from everyone’s experience figuring out materiel’s and how to cut stuff. That window tracery is amazing, I would love to make one as soon as my Emblaser 2 arrives! Is it possible you could share the file? I work in an architectural office as a CAD drafter and we do a lot of building envelope rehab work…including a lot of  Gothic churches. That would look amazing on my desk! I love architectural models.




PS…I wanted to join the blog over at the rmweb, but I didn’t know the names of three British modeling publications!

Hi David,

Thanks for the kind words. I’m happy to release the file for teh window but I first need to tidy it up a little and make it easier to use because currently theres bits in various layers  that need to be turned on and off at different times, and even I’ve forgotten which ones now!

In the meantime I’ve found this site:


which although intended for scrollsaws has many gothic style patterns. I’m hoping the Emblaser 2 will be able to cut through 4 - 6mm ply so I can give pattern number 136 a go!


Chris J

PS: I didn’t realise that you had to pass a general knowledge quiz to join the rmweb site!





Thanks for offering the files. I can’t wait to get my hands on my E2…my mind is reeling with ideas and projects I want to try with it. That scroll saw site is crazy! There are a lot of really cool projects he has on there and looks like he offers electronic files for all of them…perfect!

Plan #136…WOW! I am a wood worker and I can’t imagine scroll sawing those pieces for that church. The finished product is incredible. I would like to give that one a try as well. In the meantime if you happen to know the names of some British model RR publications you could tell me, maybe I will see you on the RM website!


Thanks again




Another major difference between the Glowforge and the Emblaser is software. With the GF everything is cloud based…the design software, and the code that controls what the machine is doing is all on their servers, and is streamed to you through your internet connection…you cannot run the machine without an internet connection. This was a huge red flag for me…what if they go out of business? Now you have a very expensive paperweight. Also, we all know that the internet isn’t the perfect environment…connections drop, they slow down…how will that affect your laser job that’s currently running? Also they were taking pre orders for that machine for most of 2015, with a delivery date of December 2015…and to this day they have yet to deliver a single order. The new projected delivery date is December 2016. All negative indicators in my book. Darkly has already been manufacturing a viable product in the E1, and the E2 is an improvement on their existing, functioning technology. The machine runs independent of any cloud based software…you get software that’s licensed to you and comes with the unit, and they have a proven history of responding to customer needs and resolving issues. The E2 is set up for expansion so I feel they will be developing more powerful lasers that can be easily fitted to the unit as an upgrade. Even though the GF is a little more robust, given it’s a CO2 machine and can cut and etch transparent and thicker materiel’s, It’s a no brainier for me which machine I went with…E2! I can’t wait for December!



Hi John,

The E2 is definitely designed to allow a lot of headroom for future diode technology.

We have considered other diode frequencies for the future. One of the most difficult aspect of introducing different laser diodes, such as NIR, is that there will be some significant changes to the machine safety design, especially the lid.

But technology changes fast. When we first created the E1 in 2013, the 2 watt laser diode was the only option available. A few years later and we are pushing 5-6 watts.

David, Referencing your need to supply 3 British railway modelling publications to join the RMweb forum, try:

Railway Modeller

British Railway Modelling

British Railway Journal


Hope these help!


Chris J.

Thanks Chris!

I echo what everyone else has said - the risk of a cloud - based operation is enormous, and I for one won’t go down that route. The Emblazer genuinely does what it says on the packet - more actually - and that is rather rare nowadays, and it’s opened up a viable side business for me (albeit very small!)


obviously it it would be lovely to have something faster and more powerful - we always want that! But it performs easily and reliably, and is truly ‘desk-top’.



(awaiting a certain December delivery…)

Have just placed my pre order for E2 and cant wait for delivery now!!  I currently own the A3 E1, and if the only improvements are quicker cutting and a few mm thicker material capability i will be rapt, as i  have found the E1 to have exceeded my expections… heres hoping E2 will exceed as well!

I also look forward to Darkly releasing some performance information on cutting ability / materials etc at some stage

We have been quiet lately but that’s only a result of us working around the clock to get the E2 completed.

Everything has been progressing very well. Most parts are into full production and we have been adding to small finishing touches here and there.

Our final optical system will be delivered in a couple of weeks and that is when we will be able to start posting cutting and engraving results we can stand behind as achievable. The optical system is currently receiving the special coatings needed to improve their efficiency.

The electronics are working beautifully and the process of approvals with them has begun. 

Software and camera integration are the areas that are starting to slightly lag and we will be pushing them along more now that the bulk of the production is in place.

We are so excited to start sharing more pictures, videos and performance results with everyone but need to have everything in place first.

Just wanted to update my thread here. I have made a decision to go with your product as a low cost startup business asset instead of the GlowForge. The intension will be to take out a small business loan in about a year and get a large c02 machine as business growth. That will give me two types of cutters in my studio.

I assume everything is still coming along ok?

Your intended shipping date still look good?

Any news of the cutting specifications for the E2?

Cheers, Brook