The Artillery Sidewinder is often recommended as the top contender for the best affordable large format 3D printer alongside the Creality CR-10S Pro. We were particularly happy with its extremely sturdy frame, ceramic coated glass bed, direct drive extruder and quiet fans, which resulted in quick, high-quality 3D prints while being amongst the quietest printers we have tested. We found relatively minor issues such as the frustrating spool holder design and recommended it over the CR-10S Pro despite it lacking automatic bed level. Currently found at $499 or lower when on sale, it is amongst the most affordable large format 3D printers while maintaining high reliability and print quality. When picking an Artillery Sidewinder X1, users should be aware of picking up their V4 version, which fixes most of the quality control issues found on Artillery’s earlier models.
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Between 2016 and 2018, Creality was the household name for affordable 3D printers. However, since then, several new brands have emerged, bringing competition to the affordable 3D printer market. Artillery was among the first to create a 3D printer that not only replicated Creality’s designs but actually improved on them in many ways. The Sidewinder X1 promises both print quality and improved ease of use from previous generations offered by the Creality brand.
After a few quality control issues, Artillery has now released its 4th revision of the Sidewinder X1, which claims to address all of the quality control issues in the first versions. Retailing at $499, the Sidewinder X1 is slightly more expensive than the Creality Cr-10 V3. Artillery is also now faced with fierce competition from several new companies like Sovol and Mingda and Creality’s new Cr-10S Pro. In this in-depth Artillery Sidewinder X1 3D printer review, we will take a deep dive into the X1’s strengths and weaknesses and see if the X1 is still a worthy buy in 2021.
Maybe you just started your 3D printing journey, or you have 5 printers at home and are an expert. Either way, we have you covered. The first thing you want to look for in a great 3D printer is obviously, drum roll, please, print quality. We tested the AS X1 with a calibration cube, Mandalorian figurine, and more. We found the surfaces quite smooth, which indicates the extruder was exerting filament consistently, which helps with quality.
If you upgrade from a Bowden style, you will notice a bit of rigging and ghosting due to the heavy direct drive. To push this printer to its limits, we printed a 400mm tall Pikachu! The Sidewinder X1 had no issues at all, and the Pikachu came out great. The objects printed did have a glossy finish due to the heat transfer, but this can be easily fixed by adjusting the temperature!
Now that we know the print quality is phenomenal, you want to look out for ease of setup next. The Artillery Sidewinder X1 is packaged with charcoal foam surrounding the printer. It ships with 2 main components, the printer base and top. Putting it all together only required 4 bolts to be inserted from the bottom into the top and connected various cables to the motors. It’s not fully assembled like some, but it’s also not in 100 pieces like others. If you are experienced like us, it only took us 20 minutes. However, everyone works at their own pace!
Based on our survey, printing speed is also an important factor when choosing a 3D printer. We put the Artillery Sidewinder X1 to the test and found that it could print much faster than its direct competitors, such as the Creality CR10 V3 and Sovol SV03. It printed at a speed of 50mm/s. However, we could easily push it to print as quickly as 70mm/s. If we compare that to the Creality CR10 V3, which only prints at 40mm/s, it’s 30mm/s faster.
Lastly, you want to make sure the printer you choose has a great support network and community to help you along in your journey. The Artillery Sidewinder X1 has quite a large community with numerous groups and forums available to discuss every and all issues!
Ranked #20 of 37 Printers
The Artillery X1 belongs to the large format cartesian family of 3D printers specializing in printing very large objects. These printers are well known for ease of setup, large community support and affordable prices.
With that said, we decided to put the Artillery Sidewinder X1 through a gruelling set of test prints, go through all its groups and forums to get support and more. To get a baseline measurement of its performance, we compared it against its competitors like the Creality CR-10 V3, Mingda Rock D3 and Sovol SV03.
This is a read that you would not want to miss. Choosing the wrong large format printer can result in a subpar setup experience, bad print quality, broken parts and a sky-high electricity bill. We carefully researched to get you the best information possible so you can rest assured your hard-earned dollars are going to the right 3D printer!
Assembling the Printer
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 comes well packaged with charcoal foam surrounding all sides of the printer components. The Sidewinder X1 ships in two main parts: the printer base and top assembly. Assembling the printer requires 4 bolts to be inserted from the bottom assembly into the top assembly and connect the various cables to the motors, end stops and filament runout sensor.
Artillery was among the first manufacturers to release a mostly assembled 3D printer and boasted of its quick assembling time. It took us around 20 minutes to unbox the Sidewinder X1 and fully assemble the 3D printer, which is similar to almost all modern 3D printers which the expectation of the Creality Cr-10 V3 took slightly longer due to it shipping in three components instead of two.
Leveling the Bed
Before getting to the first prints, users have to manually level the print bed. This is critical for the success of 3D prints, and if not done correctly, it will not adhere if the print nozzle is too far away. If the print nozzle is too close to the print bed, it could lead to a jam or poor layer quality. Leveling is achieved by turning 4 knobs at the bottom corners of the bed to raise or lower the bed to the correct height. Artillery has provided some documentation on how to correctly level the print bed.
In our tests, we found that the glass build plate was sufficiently flat enough that we could print across the whole surface without worries of prints becoming detached.
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 has a large build volume of 300mm (l) x 300mm (w) x 400mm (h), which allows it to print a large number of different objects. We liked its ceramic-coated glass bed because it was flat enough to allow us to print across its build volume without needing to worry of low or high spots.
It should be noted that the bed heater in the Sidewinder X1 has 4 large dead zones around the level knobs. This affects how evenly the heat is distributed on the glass bed. We noticed temperatures dropped as much as 10 degrees celsius when measuring from the center to the edge of the heated bed. Luckily, this did not affect the bed adhesion or print quality of our prints.
We tested the Artillery Sidewinder X1 in 4 major areas: the ability to resolve details, z layer alignment, dimensional accuracy and print repeatability. For the tests, we used stock 0.2mm layer height settings in Cura.
To test the FDM printer’s ability to resolve details, we printed several detailed models, including the standard test model Benchy, a Mandolorian figure and a calibration cube. The Sidewinder X1 reproduced the details on the Benchy, Mandalorian and calibration cube decently well. Flat surfaces are quite smooth on the calibration cube indicating that the extruder was pushing filament quite consistently. Users that upgrade from a Bowden style extruder will notice that prints exhibit a fair amount of rigging and ghosting due to the heavy direct drive extruder on the Sidewinder X1.
We tested the z-layer alignment consistency of the Sidewinder X1 by printing an extremely long 370mm tall tube. Quality control and design of the z-axis assembly dictate the consistency of the z-axis of a 3D printer. If the lead screw in the z-axis is off or bent by even a fraction of a degree, ribbing artifacts known as z wobble will manifest on the 3D print. A tall smooth object such as a tube will exaggerate any z wobble in a 3D printer. Thanks to the dual lead screws and revised z couplers, our testing did not see any z wobble in our 370mm tall tube.
To test dimensional accuracy and print consistency, we printed a 20mm calibration cube 20 times to see if there are any differences between the different cubes. We noted that our cube measured 20.2mm (l) x 20.2mm (w), which makes the Sidewinder X1 average for dimensional accuracy. We also noticed that between the first and twentieth calibration cube, there was no major difference in finish or dimensional accuracy, making the Sidewinder X1 a very consistent 3D printer.
The Sidewinder X1 is equipped with a volcano-style hotend that allowed us to print objects both quickly and with very large layer heights. To push the Artillery Sidewinder X1, we printed an extremely large low polygon Pikachu measuring nearly 400mm tall. The Sidewinder X1 had no issues printing this model at the large layer height of 0.3mm at a speedy 60mm/s. It should be noted that due to the volcano-style hotend, objects printed with the Sidewinder X1 will exhibit a very glossy finish due to the increased heat transfer from the hotend. Users looking for a more matte finish may want to lower the default hotend temperature by 5-10C.
Setting up Prints
Artillery has bundled its Sidewinder X1 with Repetier Host, a free but bare-boned piece of software designed to control the 3D printer. We prefer using slicers such as Cura and Prusaslicer, which offer much more functionality than Repetier Host. Fortunately, Cura has print profiles for the Sidewinder X1 that we used for the purposes of this review.
Loading and slicing files in Cura is easy, especially with the included print profiles for the Sidewinder X1. Cura has taken the guesswork out of getting 3D models ready for printing. Users simply load their sliced 3D models into a USB stick and insert it into the front of the Sidewinder X1. We appreciated that the Sidewinder X1 accepts full-size USB sticks instead of microSD cards found on many of its competitors like the Creality Cr-10 V3, which makes it easier to handle the larger USB sticks. Once inserted, users start prints by selecting their files on the colour touch screen. Overall, it was a pleasant experience to navigate this 3D printer due to its easy-to-read and intuitive colour touch screen.
Equipped with both TMC stepper drivers and quiet fans, the Artillery Sidewinder X1 is one of the quietest printers we’ve ever tested, with an output of 38db at idle and 42db in motion. This is significantly quieter than its competitors due to Artillery shipping with the Sidewinder X1 with quieter cooling fans. We wish other 3D printer manufacturers shipped their 3D printers with quieter fans since the largest generator of noise on modern 3D printers is not the motors but the fans.
Many 3D printers equipped with direct drive extruders are forced to print slowly due to the additional mass of the extruder. However, the Sidewinder X1 is constructed out of heavy 2060 aluminum extrusion, compensating for the heavy direct drive extruder. This allows the X1 to print at much faster speeds than its competitors, such as the Creality Cr10 V3 and Sovol SV03.
The default Cura profile has the Sidewinder X1 printing at a respectable 50mm/s. However, we found that we could easily push the X1 to print as quickly as 60-70mm/s. In comparison, the Creality Cr10 V3 must print at 40mm/s due to its direct drive extruder and light frame.
A big advantage of a direct drive extruder over a Bowden drive extruder is the ability to print flexible filaments quickly and reliably. When printing with TPU, we found that the Sidewinder X1 could print with the flexible filament at 30mm/s with no issues. In comparison, a Bowden drive extruder would typically sprint TPU at a slow 15mm/s.
The Sidewinder X1 uses an adjustable spool holder found at the top of the 3D printer. The spool holder is made out of 2 halves, with each part screws into the top of the Sidewinder X1 frame. Adjustments are made by loosening each of the screws to shift each spool holder closer or further away from each other. This spool holder design is incredibly frustrating to use as it must constantly be adjusted to accommodate different spools of filaments. Most 3D printer manufacturers use a simple rod to hold spools of filament, which can accommodate different-sized spools without adjustment. We would have much preferred to see Artillery use this design compared to the adjustable holder included in the Sidewinder X1.
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a large format 3D printer, with overall dimensions of 550mm (l) x 400mm (w) x 640mm (h), sporting a build volume of 300mm (l) x 300mm (w) x 400mm (h) and weighs in at 16.5kg. This is a large machine that requires a wide and very sturdy table to accommodate its weight. Users may find it difficult to handle on their own and may need another person to help move the 3D printer around.
Its large weight can be attributed to the 2060 aluminum extrusion and large metal base. The 2060 aluminum extrusion is extremely strong and rigid, making the Sidewinder X1 one of the sturdiest 3D printers we’ve ever tested. Compared to the 2040 aluminum extrusion used in every other competitive printer, the 2060 extrusion is 50% wider and 50% heavier, making the Sidewinder X1 significantly more challenging to move around. However, we feel that the additional weight is a worthy tradeoff for its increased rigidity and increased print quality.
A unique feature of the Artillery Sidewinder X1 is its use of ribbon cables to connect its various electrical components, such as the stepper motors and hotend. The flat ribbon cables improve the aesthetics of the X1 by giving the printer a much cleaner and more professional look. However, users of the original model reported that the connectors were frequently disconnected as there was no way to secure them in their sockets. In our V4 model, we did not experience any disconnects and found that the ribbon cables stayed secured in their sockets even after over 100 hours of printing.
Thermal Runaway Protection
One of the biggest concerns of 3D printing is the heater in the hotend or on the heated bed, potentially losing control and catching fire. Thermal runaway protection is a software feature that monitors the heaters to ensure it stays within an acceptable temperature range. Most modern printers, including the Artillery Sidewinder X1, have this feature enabled. As a side note, we would never recommend a printer without this critical feature. In the case of the Sidewinder X1, if it detects that the heater’s temperature is going out of an acceptable range, then it will display a heating error message, cut power to the 3D printer and wait for the user to restart the machine.
Cable Relief and Cable Management
The heated bed of the Artillery Sidewinder X1 moves while the printer is in motion. This is a potential safety risk since the power cables connected to the heated bed could snap after hundreds of hours of use. To prevent this, 3D printer manufacturers install a cable relief bracket to reduce the chance of the power cables breaking down over time. We were disappointed that Artillery did not include this cable relief bracket to help mitigate the risks of cable snaps.
The inclusion of ribbon cables to connect the various electrical components did not only improve the appearance of the Sidewinder X1 but also made it safer. As many 3D printers have a snag risk with their cables, the flat and tidy nature of the ribbon cables keeps them out of the reach of moving parts and fingers.
Finding Replacement Parts
Many of the parts and components found on the Artillery Sidewinder X1 are replaceable, including the hotend, extruder, control board, motors and motion system. Artillery offers replacement components along with 3D printer retailers such as Matterhackers and 3D Printing Canada. While most of the parts are common with other 3D printer manufacturers, the ribbon cables are unique to Artillery, and users must source them directly from Artillery.
Accessing the Control Board
Base mounted electronics are a common feature of modern 3D printers. Users simply remove a few screws to uncover the entire bottom portion of the base, revealing all the Sidewinder X1’s electronics. With its large base, users have an enormous amount of space to access the control board and other electronics of the X1. This makes working with the control board an easy and pleasant experience.
However, Artillery has hot glued the connectors to the control board, requiring users to melt the glue before removing cables. While this is common practice with most 3D printer manufacturers, we dislike having this extra step before working with the Sidewinder X1’s electronics.
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 brought several features that were novel back in 2018 and continue to highlight the Sidewinder X1 is a top contender in 2021.
3:1 Geared Direct Drive Extruder
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 features a cloned E3D direct drive Titan extruder. A direct drive extruder offers many advantages over Bowden extruders, including more precise filament control and the ability to print flexible filaments like TPU reliably and quickly. Though Artillery uses a cloned E3D Titan extruder, it does not suffer from the quality control issues that many other cloned extruders have. In our tests, we did not experience a single jam or print failure due to the extruder.
TMC Silent Stepper Drivers
Many modern printers come equipped with TMC silent stepper drivers to dramatically reduce the amount of noise a 3D printer makes, and the Artillery Sidewinder X1 is no exception to this. Equipped with TMC 2100 silent stepper drivers, the Artillery Sidewinder X1 is one of the quietest printers we have tested.
Filament Runout Sensor
Directly beneath the filament spool holder on the Sidewinder X1 is a filament runout sensor. This sensor will detect when the X1 runs out of filament, pause the printer and wait until the user loads in new filament before resuming. This is an incredibly useful feature, especially for a large format printer like the Artillery Sidewinder X1, as there are very few things more frustrating than having a multiday print fail due to the 3D printer running out of filament.
Ceramic Coated Glass Plate
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 comes equipped with a ceramic coated glass bed which is very similar to Creality’s carborundum glass bed or Anycubic’s Ultrabase glass bed. This is a great usability improvement since users do not need to use build adhesives like glue sticks or hairspray for prints to stick reliably to the bed. Filaments such as PLA, PETG and TPU stick very well to the ceramic-coated glass bed when heated and release with little to no effort when cooled.
We prefer glass beds to the flexible beds found in competitive machines such as the Mingda Rock 3 due to how flat the glass bed is. Flexible beds on affordable 3D printers tend to be placed on warped aluminum heated beds which is bad for print adhesion.
The Artillery Sidewinder X1, when released in 2018, was a massive leap for affordable 3D printers. It brought features like its modern design, direct drive extruder and a ceramic coated glass bed, which are now considered essential in any modern 3D printer. While the first iterations of the Sidewinder X1 suffered from quality control issues, we found the V4 did not exhibit any of those issues and proved to be a very reliable printer capable of good quality 3D prints. Its print quality, speed and quietness have placed the Sidewinder X1 at the top of our large format 3D printer recommendations.
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