The xTool S1 Laser Cutter Evaluation: A Nice Diode Laser With a Big Value Tag

Up to date Jan. 13, 2024 6:00 a.m. PT

Written by 
James Bricknell

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James Bricknell Senior Editor

James has been writing about expertise for years however has cherished it for the reason that early 90s. Whereas his fundamental areas of experience are maker instruments — 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters — he additionally likes to play board video games and tabletop RPGs.

Experience 3D printers, maker instruments resembling Cricut fashion vinyl cutters and laser cutters, conventional paper printers Credentials

  • 6 years working professionally within the 3D printing house / 4 years testing shopper electronics for big web sites.

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Sq. Toes of Lab Area


  • Highly effective diode laser
  • Glorious software program
  • A lot of equipment
  • Implausible enclosure


  • Very dear for a Diode
  • Smaller footprint
  • Wants a pc subsequent to it

When working with laser cutters at dwelling they primarily fall into two classes: Diode lasers and CO2 lasers. CO2 lasers just like the xTool P2 are sometimes extra highly effective and minimize and etch extra supplies whereas diode lasers are typically unenclosed and have much less chopping energy.

The S1 from xTool is one thing a little bit totally different. It is a diode laser with a big enclosure and a strong 40-watt laser that may minimize and etch absolutely anything you want, with a number of caveats.

Xtool S1 laser module in the light with darkness around it Xtool S1 laser module in the light with darkness around it

James Bricknell / CNET

When the S1 arrived I used to be impressed by the general look of the machine. Most diode lasers seem like a 3D printer that is been damaged down and reformed as Frankenstein’s monster. The S1 has a smooth black enclosure with a darkish inexperienced hatch and appears costly {and professional}, one thing you do not at all times see.

This overview relies on the “fundamental equipment.” It contains the Air Help module, designed to cut back scorching in your laser etching, and a honeycomb chopping platform, which I like to recommend over the standalone machine. At $2,400 it is $200 greater than the standalone however air help is a should if you wish to generate nice cuts that may be given as presents or offered on Etsy.

xTool S1 Specs

Laser energy 40w
Laser sort Diode
Work space 498 x 319
LED show No
Enclosed Sure
Precision 0.01mm
Max pace 600mm/s
Max materials thickness 18mm

Diode lasers have come a good distance for the reason that early days of 4-watt lasers that would barely scorch wooden. The 40-watt  behemoth on the S1 can minimize as much as 18mm wooden in a single go and can etch nearly all the pieces you need, together with slate, anodized aluminum and coloured acrylic. 

The one factor it struggles with is transparency. Clear acrylic sheets and glass are all however inconceivable to work with; if you wish to use them, a CO2 laser is probably going your greatest wager. It even works on xTool’s enjoyable silicone Apple Watch straps. These may be lasered to take away the highest layer of silicone and present the rainbow shade beneath. It may be difficult to get proper, however the impact is superb when you do. I additionally managed to etch a mirror end canine tag, which I believed the diode laser would wrestle with, and it got here out excellent, method higher than I believed it might.

A slate coaster with a Star Wars logo and a watch strap with rainbow etching A slate coaster with a Star Wars logo and a watch strap with rainbow etching

James Bricknell / CNET

Whereas the chopping space might be thought-about small, the S1 does have a passthrough characteristic that — with the extra riser accent — permits you to broaden the 498 x 319mm chopping space to a powerful 498 x 3000mm space. That is sufficiently big to etch one big piece or use it to make a number of items in a conveyor belt fashion. All of the equipment, just like the rotary device for tumblers and the conveyor rollers, add worth, particularly in case you make multiples of the identical product. 

The S1 is each very superior and fundamental on the similar time. It makes use of a really guide plotting system to determine the place your materials is — you need to bodily drag the device head round and press the button to mark the boundary of the fabric — and it does not have a digicam. That is fairly typical of diode lasers and there are after-market cameras that work with third-party software program like Lightburn, however the S1 is considerably costlier than most diode lasers. I have a look at laser at this value level for people who find themselves greater than hobbyists, it is for individuals who need to earn a living on a facet hustle or as their job. Time is cash; with out the digicam, doing something takes far more time.

Fortunately, the software program that the S1 makes use of is excellent so it may possibly mark the realm very precisely however with out the digicam, you need to bodily be along with your pc and the laser in the identical room. My PC is in my workplace so there’s a whole lot of strolling backwards and forwards, however that should not be a difficulty if in case you have a laptop computer in your workshop. Xtool additionally has an
app that may do a few of the each day work, nevertheless it is not totally featured, so cannot work in all circumstances.

The S1 software program has a really intelligent beta referred to as “Curve Course of.” It makes use of a mechanical probe to the touch a curved floor, like a plate or bowl and measure the variance on the curve. It then outputs a
mannequin of the curves to put your design on. Then, when chopping, the top strikes up and all the way down to maintain the main focus actual so the etching is even throughout each a part of the fabric. It’s extremely cool to observe and is a characteristic that may solely get higher over time.

Multiple laser cuts using leather, acrylic, and slate Multiple laser cuts using leather, acrylic, and slate

James Bricknell / CNET

I am nonetheless on the fence about high-priced, high-powered diode lasers. The S1 might be the most effective diode laser I’ve used, nevertheless it nonetheless struggles to chop clear acrylic or work with any clear supplies. That is an inherent difficulty with diodes so I should not fault it, however the $2,400 price ticket means I anticipate a little bit greater than the $800 – $1,000 ones you usually see. The Flux Beamo is a 30W CO2 laser with a comparable chopping space that may minimize clear supplies and is priced equally to the S1, so it is a powerful choice. 

That being stated, the software program on the S1 is improbable, and with the supplies that Xtool has calibrated it with it really works very nicely. In the event you make issues in leather-based, slate, or wooden then the S1 will match all of your wants and the dearth of clear chopping will not matter anyway. The largest promoting level of the S1 is the casing. Sure, it’s costlier than the standard machines prefer it, however the enclosure has an environment friendly air flow system, and, with the honeycomb strive beneath, is far safer to make use of than an open-air laser. It even has an emergency shut-off button in case one thing goes flawed. The additional options are price the additional cash in my eyes.

The xTool S1 may not be proper on your first laser, nevertheless it’s an amazing machine to purchase in case you already perceive the method and are able to improve, particularly in case you earn a living utilizing your laser gadgets.

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