As the owner of a woodworking business, I’m always looking for ways to improve my products and sales. One of those, as of late, has been looking at adding personalization options to my work. The best way to do that is to add a Glowforge to my tool arsenal.
The problem is that, at a $5,000+ price for the pro version, it is hard to justify the cost without testing the market first. Because of this, I’ve been looking at local options for a Glowforge rental, so I can offer these products without having to commit to the total cost of a Glowforge upfront.
Luckily, there are several options out there to rent a Glowforge, and most of them are quite affordable.
Where to Rent A Glowforge
This first option might be surprising to many, but Joann’s Fabric has been making investments to add a number of machines for rent in their stores. These include Cricuts, sewing machines, and Glowforges!
At this point, you can’t rent a Glowforge in every Joann’s store, but it’s easy to look up your closest option on their site.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Glowforge at Joann’s?
They don’t publicly list how much it costs to rent a Glowforge, but after calling around to a few stores, it seems to be in the range of $15 to $20 per hour.
Glowforge says that the average print takes approximately 11 minutes, so you should be able to get plenty done with an hour of rental time.
With the proliferation of maker spaces popping up around the country, there is a good chance there will be at least one in your town.
While these spaces can vary in what tools they have on hand, many are investing in technology with CNCs and Glowforges as these higher ticket tools are great for bringing in new makers.
My local makerspace has a Glowforge pro on hand that can be reserved and rented by the hour. This is helpful as I know I won’t be wasting any time waiting around for tools.
Most makerspaces have solid websites that list the available tools so just enter makerspace into Google and see what comes up for your area.
Cost to Rent a Glowforge at a Makerspace
Makerspace rates will vary depending on the membership structure. My local makerspace charges $99/year for membership plus $10/hour for shop time. Others will charge a higher annual or monthly amount but offer unlimited shop time.
Makerbook is a new venture that aims to make renting out shop space like renting out a home on Airbnb or a car on Turo. If you have some tools and space you can list them on Makerbook and charge an hourly rate for other woodworkers to come in and use the workshop.
This service is relatively new but there are already a lot of shops listed. In my area there are already three shops listed that have glowforges or other laser engravers for rent.
As each shop sets their own rate the costs are across the board. Looking at shops that listed laser engravers available for rent the price ranged from $25/day to $50/hour.
Facebook marketplace can be a goldmine for finding tools for rent. Searching for laser engraving and look through the listings. Odds are if you contact a few of the sellers and ask if they rent out their glowforge, most will be happy to earn some extra money during what would normally be downtime for their machine.
Even better if you let them know that you won’t be selling anything that completes with their local business!
Given the prices we have seen so far with Joann’s being the lowest and private rentals more towards the high end I feel that that $30 – $40/hour would be a good range to aim for.
If you don’t mind sending someone else your cut files and having the final results shipped back then online services like Fiverr are a good option for renting a Glowforge. These services can be limiting as you’ll be limited to using the material that the seller has on hand rather than being able to provide your own.
There are other online options like SendcutSend or Ponoko. These are more focused on industrial level laser cutting versus engraving though. But if that is your business then these options may be more cost effective with their larger and more powerful lasers.
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.