Artillery Sidewinder X1 Review

Artillery Sidewinder X1: Built for show!

Today we’re going to take a look at the Artillery X1. You might have seen a review or two of this printer on other channels from a couple of months ago, but this is the newest iteration, the v4. From what I’ve seen, the X1 supposedly has always been a printer that was really close to being a perfect low-budget machine and only had a couple of flaws that would need to be figured out, so what I really want to know is if Artillery or Evnovo finally managed to push it over the edge and turn it into a great printer or if they’re keeping it as another mediocre CR-10-inspired lookalike.

Alright, so I’m going to be doing 3D printer reviews all throughout November, and I’ll try to cover the ones that, you know, you might look into for getting as a Christmas gift or just for yourself. And I’ll try to make these videos a bit shorter, since I’m sure there will be plenty of reviews to watch from me and from everyone else. And of course, I won’t be giving you the lovely-dovey sugarcoated version, if you want that, just, you know, have a look at the manufacturer’s website or at one of the many “reviews” that just try to get you to buy the printer through an affiliate link.

So let’s get cracking on the Artillery X1, starting with the specs. We’ve got a 300x300x400mm build envelope with a standard V-slot frame, the hotend and extruder are a a direct-drive E3D Titan Aero Volcano knockoff, with a sock, the bed is a coated glass sheet with a mains-powered silicone heater, and it does not have auto bed leveling, but comes with a touchscreen and a filament runout sensor.

What’s unique about the X1 are these flat flexible cables that are used on the Z-axis and on the X-axis. That all comes to a price of around $430.


Print Quality

What sort of a print quality does that get you? I’m going to call this “really decent”.

There is a bit more curling visible than I’d like and on prints where you can see it, it looks like either the filament pulling up on the toolhead, the motion system having some inaccuracies or the spool mount up that likes to wobble the entire frame is still causing some imperfections.

Overall, though, this level of quality is very respectable. It’s also been very reliable for me so far, which is something that you really need for a printer this size. If this one has an oopsie, it can mean days of printing lost instead of just a couple of hours on a smaller machine.

As far as the user experience goes, that’s ok, too.


Set Up

The included manual is detailed, the initial assembly is fast and relatively easy to do, and they’re even reminding you to adjust the v-wheel on every axis.

The alignment of those is notoriously bad on pretty much every machine that uses them and when you try to use the printer as it’s shipped, with loose wheels, you’re not going to have a great time.


Software

For software, Artillery is providing Repetier host with profiles for Slic3r. If you’re not familiar, Repetier host is a really weird thing. It’s made by a German company and basically, it’s another UI on top of your slicer, so it provides a consistent top-level UI and then passes on the actual slicing to Slic3r, PrusaSlicer, Cura, etc. I find that concept super inefficient to use, since you still have to jump into the slicer itself to change any settings, but you’re like, not actually supposed to then use the slicer directly, but instead do your object arrangement and gcode saving through Repetier Host. Maybe it makes sense if you also use their Repetier Server print server, but as is, I would prefer to use any other UI instead of the Repetier Host one.

And because they’re using the “old” Slic3r instead of the optimized PrusaSlicer, the slicing itself can be excruciatingly slow at times, too, this vase took, I think, 15 or 20 minutes just to slice, vs. seconds when using the same setup on PrusaSlicer or a modern version of Cura.

The X1 comes with two profiles, PLA normal and PLA fine, and they’re actually well-tuned and work great with the X1 hardware. 

There’s no profiles for PETG or any other materials included – and with this “improved” hotend, the printer caps out at around 240, or at most 250°C before the PTFE starts to get damaged.


Components

So let’s have a bit of a closer look at the components used here, and let’s stick with the extruder and hotend.

It is a budget Titan Aero Volcano clone, and instead of using the characteristic single-piece frontplate and heatsink, it’s these two parts that are just screwed together dry. Which… works, I guess, at least with a teflon-lined heatbreak, since those are less reliant on proper cooling, but without the air guide structure that the original Aero uses, this version spills air all over your printed part, which is another factor that will make printing ABS, ASA or maybe even PETG somewhat unpredictable on this printer.

The hobbed gear in here is not particularly sharp, and I do expect that to be a limiting factor if you try to push the printer a bit faster than it’s printing now – as is, with the stock 0.4mm nozzle this extruder isn’t working all that hard.

Two parts on the extruder that seem a bit off to me:

The idler lever, which seems to be a problem for a lot of people out there, hasn’t been an issue for me, but the filament guide between the hobbed gear and heatbreak is.

On the original Titan, these are made from POM so that filament doesn’t stick to it as you pull it out of the hotend, on the X1, it looks like it’s ABS, and I did have this clog up solidly once when trying to unload filament. This thing takes a long time to take apart and reassemble.

Once more thing that whoever is making this Titan Aero knockoff has also messed up is the tension adjustment. Not only is the adjustment screw kinda hard to use with the way that the extruder is mounted on the X1, but the extruder body also just doesn’t have the little hole where you can see what your idler tension is set to, so adjusting it on the X1 is a bit of a gamble anyways.

Between the change in material for the filament guide, the downgraded hobbed gear and this, it seems like another one of those cases where a cloner will try replicate a part, but make little changes that don’t seem like a big deal to them, because they don’t know how the part actually works, but in reality, those changes do make quite a difference. Overall, it’s still an average, usable setup, it’s just that there’s no point in this being an E3D knockoff when you don’t get most of the benefits of the original.

Ok. I also wish the Volcano was using a larger nozzle than the 0.4 out of the box, because as-is, the printer can’t move fast enough with its large glass bed and relatively heavy toolhead to make use of the Volcano’s higher meltrate, prints still take a long, long time to finish if you actually use this printer to make large parts, as intended. The printer has 400mm of usable print height, but even when using just 1.5% of that available height and the faster slicer profile, you’re already looking at 10 hour of print time.

A 0.6mm or 0.8mm nozzle would really help this printer along.

Before I jump into the electrical and electronics, which are… a pain point for this printer, let’s quickly stick with the heated components, the heated bed, where prints should stick to, and that does work well.

It’s got this, I guess, screen printed surface on the glass, which works great for PLA. It sticks well during prints and releases easily afterwards, it does leave a bit of a texture, but there is a massive problem with the way the bed is built and that’s that it is incredibly unevenly heated, which is actually not all that uncommon for bed that just use a glass sheet with a silicone heater stuck on.

With this one, the spots in the corners where the height adjustment screws are located are significantly colder, so any warp-happy prints that extend out to those areas might give you some trouble sticking down. Really, the fully usable area is about the size as on better printers one size class down.

Alright, so while everything up until this point is… fine, I guess, the electrical issues, for me, are an absolute deal breaker because they’re not something the average user will be able to fix or even recognize, but they’re also a ticking time bomb that could quite literally set your house in fire at any given time.

I’m not talking about the flat flex cables that have been an issue for people in the past – they work perfectly fine on my machine and I’m not seeing any hot spots in the connectors that would degrade them over time.


Electrics

What I’m talking about is the 230V, main-powered components in here. This printer uses a 230V heated bed, which, if done correctly, I think is a great addition, because they are able to get to temperature really quickly. Couple issues with this one. When I unboxed the Artillery X1, the 230V heater mat was already starting to come loose from the glass on one of the corners.

If you would use the printer like that or if it ever comes loose again during a print, that corner is going to burn up quicker than you can say “fire extinguisher”.

Next, the way the heater’s wiring is routed from the base to the moving bed. It uses some sort of a semi-rigid sleeving, but instad of rolling smoothly, it kinks in three distinct spots. That’s going to put a ton of stress on the wires and they will eventually break. By the way, if you want to know how to set up an electrical fire, this is it. This thing is the reason why I do not want to use this printer.

Now, what’s interesting is that it looks like the X1 at some point used a different type of sleeving that actually bent more smoothly, you can even see that in the background of some of their YouTube videos. But the fact that they apparently downgraded this stuff or didn’t properly validate for use – I don’t know, that doesn’t sit right with me.


Electronics

If we look at the electronics, it’s an 8-bit MKS GEN L mainboard, coupled with a 32-bit controller for the touchscreen.

The main board runs Marlin 1.1.9, which has all the safety features enabled as far as I can tell, but again, the wiring on all of this, even though it’s not safety critical, is still quite bad. There’s mismatched connectors all over the place, locking plug into non-locking sockets, single “Dupont” style female connectors into header with pins that I know are too short to make proper contact, and it’s all held together with hot glue.

Spicy detail about at AC wiring: This pin down here is exposed live voltage whenever you switch the printer “off”. Considering that the frame of the printer is not properly grounded, that does become a rather “juicy” detail.

I think the nail in the electrical coffin is the lack of CE, which should be obvious considering the flaws – this printer and its power supply do have the “China export” logo, but not the “CE” logo that would certify that this machine is built to European safety standards and is legal to import into and sell inside the European Union. It’s also lacking the paperwork that would need to be included with the machine, so if you order it from outside the EU, it might actually get confiscated by customs.

Yes, there is a “CE conformity certificate” that apparently applies to the X1, but when you just google the issuer, the Shenzen HX company, you find expired permits they’re showing off on their website as well as a blacklist entry on the TÜV website because apparently Shenzen HX is involved with forging TÜV testing reports for face masks.

I could keep on going here, like the touchscreen is alright, but it’s one of the worst translated and hastily-thrown-together interfaces on a printer these days, and even though the print quality and functionality as a 3D printer is fine, as soon as you look under the hood, it becomes a rather scary machine to use. Artillery or Evnovo have fixed issues on the X1 models before and I really hope they fix the rest of them, too, but until they do, this is a printer I’m going to have to advise you to stay away from unless you’re know what you´re doing and are really committed to fixing its flaws.

And thank you all for watching (or reading, in this case)! I’m probably not going to earning any affiliate commissions from any of you buying the X1, but if you think this video helped you out in any way, you can support the channel just by leaving a like on the video or even on Patreon or YouTube memberships. I definitely appreciate everyone who’s already doing that, because it means I won’t need to suck up to the manufacturers of these machines to make producing these reviews worthwhile.


Aliexpress (AFF) Shop

💙 Enjoying the videos? Support my work on Patreon!

Product links are affiliate links – I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you)

All my video gear


You can support me without spending a single penny!