xTool S1 review

Powerful diode laser engraver ideal for advanced crafting and professional use.

Jan 27, 2024 - 20:30
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xTool S1 review

The xTool S1 emerges as an attractive option as a choice of a mid-level diode laser engraver, perched at the top of its class and serving as a bridge to more advanced CO2 engravers such as the xTool P2. The machine's fully enclosed design not only boosts safety but also renders it ideal for a range of locations, from education to small businesses, as well as among modellers and crafters. 

The machine's versatility is further enhanced by its interchangeable tool heads, expansive engraving area, and an array of useful accessories. While the xTool S1 does command a premium price, it justifies this with its robust build quality and a suite of high-end features. 

However, with the increasing market of enclosed laser engravers, you have to wonder whether the xTool can sustain its premium pricing in a competitive field. After testing the best laser engravers, we'd say the S1 is a fitting choice for those looking for a balance between sophisticated features and a user-friendly experience in laser engraving.

xTool S1: Design

xTool S1 review

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

The xTool S1 boasts a design that blends functionality with aesthetics and is a well-made, mid-level diode laser engraver that has been designed to fit neatly on a desk or work surface. Its build quality is excellent, with a sturdy, fully enclosed structure that enhances safety compared with the open architecture design and contributes to the machine's overall stability during operation. This enclosure is a significant feature, ensuring the laser engraver's suitability for various environments, including educational settings, small businesses, and home workshops.

xTool S1 review

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

Despite its substantial size, the xTool S1 has been designed so that the size and shape can be handled by one person in order to lift and move. This doesn't mean it's small, and it does take up a fair amount of desktop space. This aspect might require some planning for those with limited workspace.

For users who opt for the Air Purifier, which I would as always recommend, once attached, this can fit under a desk. Likewise, accessories such as the riser base and rotary tool are all relatively easy to fit, if sometimes a little fiddly and time-consuming. 

From its setup process to ongoing use, the xTool S1's design is intuitive and user-friendly. Its features, like interchangeable tool heads and a large engraving area, are all well thought out, providing a seamless experience. 

xTool S1: Features

xTool S1 review

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

The xTool S1 laser engraver and cutter is the top tier of diode laser technology, designed with safety, precision, and versatility at its heart. With its IEC-approved Class 1 laser safety certification, the S1 ensures a safe operating environment, making it suitable for various settings, including educational institutions. The machine's Toolhead is available in several power options - 40W, 20W, and 2W IR laser modules, which allow for a broad range of material compatibility and, of course, budget when it comes to the 20W or 40W option with over $500 difference in price. The speed, peaking at 600mm/s doesn't sacrifice stability or precision, and while this sounds fast, it is becoming a standard maximum speed for these enclosed systems.

One of the standout features of the S1 is its pinpoint positioning system, which ensures absolute precision of engraving on multi-shaped objects. This system is especially beneficial for batch processing and handling objects of different shapes. The auto-focus system utilises a dynamic focus engraving capability, all designed to ensure flawless results on uneven surfaces, such as slate.

For larger projects, the S1's bed size of 498x319mm and optional Automatic Conveyor Feeder comes in handy (Although not available in the UK), allowing for expanded creativity. The optional RA2 Pro rotary attachment, perfect for detailed engravings on cylindrical objects such as mugs, further enhances the machine's adaptability.

Specs

Laser Power Options: 40W, 20W, 2W IR Speed: 600mm/s Material Compatibility: Wide range including metals, acrylic, plastic Engraving Area: 19.6"× 12.5" (498*319 mm) Safety Certification: Class 1 laser Features: Auto-focus, dynamic-focus engraving, pinpoint positioning Software: xTool Creative Space, compatible with Lightburn Additional Accessories: Automatic Conveyor Feeder, RA2 Pro rotary attachment, riser base, air purifier Focus: Electric Z-axis for dynamic focusing Batch Processing: Multi-shape batch marking, no jigs needed Connectivity: WiFi and USB options Air Purification System: Optional for clean workspace Maximum Material Height: 133.5mm with riser base

Air quality during operation is a key consideration for many, especially in an educational or office setting; the S1 addresses this with a smoke exhaust system and optional air purifier. The xTool Creative Space software provides a seamless, user-friendly experience, and if you need more features, the S1 is also compatible with Lightburn.

Despite its large capacity, the S1 is lightweight enough to be handled by one person, so it is easy enough to move when needed and fits comfortably on a desktop, although it will occupy most of the space. The optional Air Purifier, designed to sit under the desk, complements the machine well, ensuring clean air without occupying additional space.

xTool S1: Performance

xTool S1 review

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

The xTool S1 is an exceptional machine for mid-level laser engravers, arriving almost ready to go and having a relatively straightforward initial setup process. Once you get into using the machine, then the day-to-day use and maintenance is straightforward, with most things handled automatically by the engraver and software. 

The initial setup takes about 20-30 minutes, with the most time-consuming aspect being the connection to the machine for software use. Initially, I found using a USB connection was necessary, which remained the primary connection mode throughout the test.

xTool S1 review

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

Swapping between the 40W standard head and the 2W IR head is seamless, with the machine automatically recognising each. The integration of the riser base, while slightly more time-consuming, results in a sleek look that maintains the machine's style and, of course, enables you to fit in large objects. The rotary attachment installation can be tricky at first but becomes more manageable with experience; it's the same accessory as used with the P2 and equally handy and should be on your essentials list with the purchase.

The xTool Creative Space workstation is the central software hub, offering a well-designed and user-friendly interface with plenty of control options. The precision of the 40W diode is particularly impressive, delivering high-detail engraving and crisp cutting quality, making it ideal for modellers and small-scale businesses. The S1's capability to produce some of the best laser-cut objects is a testament to its quality. It is a highly recommended choice for those looking to venture into laser engraving without stepping up to CO2 machines.

xTool S1: Final verdict

xTool S1 review

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

If you're looking for a laser engraver for business, education or regular use for modelling or crafting, there are many options out there, from open frame to fully enclosed. After testing many laser engravers, I found that all have their place, but when it comes to 40W laser options, my preference will always be an enclosed design. 

The xTool S1 is a premium option, especially considering the power and the fact that this is a diode rather than a CO2 engraver. It blends power, precision, and versatility, especially with interchangeable tool heads, and caters to a wide range of creative applications, which makes it far more versatile than many other laser engravers out there, including the more expensive CO2 options. 

The machine's design prioritises user safety and ease of use, making it an excellent fit for educational environments and professional workshops; of course, once you add the Air Purifier, which is a further expense. Despite its premium price, the xTool S1 justifies its cost with outstanding build quality, advanced features and a choice of extras. 

The combination of a spacious work area, high-speed capability, and compatibility with multiple materials and accessories makes it a great choice for serious crafters and professionals looking for a powerful and reliable machine. The xTool S1 is a solid investment for those seeking a reliable, high-performance laser engraver that bridges the gap between diode and CO2 machines.