Theboasts some mighty features for its budget segment - let’s see how the printer holds up in our hand-on review.
Fresh-faced Artillery was founded in October 2018, but it’s already released a worthy contender to Creality’s dominance in the budget 3D printing sector with its first printer, the.
At $400 – give or take – the printer offers an impressive set of features for its price tag.
Since the original released back in 2018, Artillery has rowed through numerous iterations to address (mainly negative) user feedback. With an ear, seemingly, to the ground, the manufacturer has been quick to pick up on this feedback, resulting in the most recent iteration, Sidewinder X1 V4, being a rock-solid printer worth a second look in 2020.
We’ve gone hands-on with the fourth iteration Sidewinder X1 to find out if it lives up to expectations.
Artillery, a Shenzhen-based 3D printer manufacturer (that also appears to market its printers under the Evnovo brand) leads its lineup with the Artillery Sidewinder X1, large desktop 3D printer that boasts topline features such as a sturdy chassis, direct drive extruder system, and a big, fast-heating 300 x 300 x 400 mm print bed.
While all were present on the previous Sidewinder X1 machines, the latest is said to be the one. And our experiences mostly line up with this. Capable of stellar prints, albeit with a small time investment to find the optimum settings.
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 comes snugly packed in a well-organized box and is very easy to set up. After mounting the gantry to the base with four screws, you plug in a couple very neatly arranged wires and the printer is good to go.
Speaking of cables, one reason why the Sidewinder X1 has such a tidy appearance is its cable management. Unlike a great number of budget desktop printers and the fistfuls of spaghetti-like cabling they come with, the Artillery Sidewinder X1 neatly deviates with large ribbon cables.
Overall it results in a clean look that helps the X1 stand apart. However, some users of previous X1 iterations faced problems with ribbon cables wearing out and breaking at the connector pins due to rapid motion. Obviously our contact with the machine is limited compared to an owner running one for months, but during our hands-on review, there was nothing to suggest the cables were put under undue stress, even at the printer’s limits of movement.
The Sidewinder X1 sports hefty 20 mm x 60 mm extrusions for the bed rail and Z-axis, which contribute to the printer’s sturdiness. Plus, it features dual Z-axis lead screws with anti-backlash nuts on the back and to keep them synchronized, a connector belt with pulley. In combination with the 300 x 300 mm print bed and 400 mm of travel in the Z-axis, the X1 is equipped to handle big prints.
The Sidewinder lacks bed leveling sensors, meaning you will have to fall back to the tried-and-true method of sliding a sheet of paper in between bed and nozzle, and turning the knobs under the bed until the bed is even. However, with the Sidewinder’s assisted leveling pinging the hot end to the four corners of the bed for you, it’s a trivial task.
The Sidewinder’s heated bed leaves others in the dust, heating from room temperature to 60°C in approximately 45 seconds. This is due to the insulated bed being AC heated instead of the more commonly used DC-heated variant.
One thing we did notice, though, is that the actual surface temperature of the plate falls short by around 10°C, something to keep in mind when printing with temperature-sensitive materials that require a heated bed. However, the heat was evenly distributed on the whole build plate with no risk of warping due to thermal inequality.
Not only does the printer itself heat up swiftly, but also its design is laid out for fast printing, boasting a sturdy design to counter vibrations from rapid movement, as well as a volcano-style hotend, which, thanks to an elongated melt zone, allows for greater molten filament throughput.
While the possibility to cut printing time down is always tempting, we found the printer to fair noticeably better when slowing the printing speed down, especially with large prints as the printer’s movements caused noticeable Z-wobble in full height prints.
Speaking about settings, this brings us to the slicer. For starters, Artillery does not provide a proprietary slicer, which leaves you to choose from a bouquet of open-source slicers. We decided to go with Cura, for which you can download the profile on Artillery’s website.
While our first test prints were sliced and ran without any problems, we did come back one Monday morning to find an over-the-weekend-print to have failed for no apparent reason midway trough. Upon troubleshooting, we discovered a common bug between the Sidewinder X1 and the g-code generated for it using Cura. We couldn’t reproduce the issue using other slicers, and settle on ReptierHost (using Slic3r) to prepare prints for the Sidewinder X1.
Further print successes came when trying to print ABS – make sure to turn off the print-cooling fan completely and the printer should handle the material without warping.
Speaking of fans, even with the parts cooling fan on (during print jobs where its recommended), the Sidewinder X1 is extremely quiet. The operational noise-level lay around 45 dB, somewhere between a library and a quiet apartment on the decibel table. So, yeah, it is really quiet.
With that said, we did find the part cooling fan to be lacking power. That, or the ducting channeling the air is not as good as it could be.
Printing with the Artillery Sidewinder X1 was – mostly – fun, once the printer’s wilder aspects were tamed and the right settings for printing were found. While the print quality out of the box was passable, with some experimentation it can be great.
Yes, the printer needs some fiddling and tweaking with the settings. Nevertheless, we would still recommend it to beginners (with the patience to tinker) as well as experienced users. It’s a solid starting point capable of great prints – it’s just somewhat up to the user to make the most of it.
The Sidewinder X1 is loaded with features. Here are some of the more noteworthy ones.
The Artillery Sidewinder is equipped with dual belt-synchronized lead screws and two Z-axis stepper motor drivers. Combined with the printer’s sturdy aluminum frame, this feature should reduce vibrations, and therefore minimize Z-wobble, resulting in a smoother finish of prints.
As detailed above, we found tall prints on the Sidewinder X1 to suffer from a wibbly-wobbliness at their upper reaches. Printing slower mitigates this, but still, utilizing that full 400 mm of reach in the Z-axis will require deft printing skills and possible modification from the user.
At 300 x 300 x 400 mm, the Sidewinder X1’s build space is slightly above average. The machine’s form bundles the power supply, mainboard, drivers and other essential components into a flat, closed box base, giving the printer a relatively tidy footprint.
The Sidewinder X1 comes with a geared Titan-style extruder, sitting above a Volcano hotend. This arrangement should result in precise filament control and – thanks to the Volcano’s elongated melt zone – higher filament throughput and the possibility to print fast.
Such an extruder would be ideally paired with a larger nozzle to take advantage of that large build space and dramatically cut print times. The Sidewinder X1 only comes with a 0.4 mm nozzle as standard, meaning you will have to purchase your own nozzles and settle on the correct print settings yourself.
The Sidewinder X1 has the pleasant characteristic of heating its printing bed to 80 °C in under two minutes. Coated with an Ultrabase-like texture, the bed should be good to go with no adhesives necessary. We found this hit and miss, depending on the particular filament material and brands used. It’s a matter of finding the right temperatures and spot-on bed leveling. You can cheat it somewhat by using glue.
The Sidewinder X1’s menu is punchy with a lot of color. And that’s pretty much all there is to say about it. You touch it. It does the things you touch.
Fixed to the Sidewinder X1’s frame-mounted spool holder, the filament out sensor – here a simple mechanical switch – can be a little finicky to use, with stubbornly curly end-of-spool filament the trickiest to feed through.
In action, the sensor works, triggering when the switch is no longer depressed by the filament and pausing the print until you replace and resume the job.
You can purchase the Artillery Sidewinder X1 from the following online retailers:
License: The text of "2020 Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 Review: Hands-on" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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