When it comes to 3D printers the old saying “you get what you pay for” is usually true. For this very reason I was very sceptical of the performance of the Tronxy X1 3D printer that costs approximately $140, or around R1 665.
On paper the specifications don’t look too bad, however. It comes with a 150 x 150 x 150 millimetre print area which doesn’t make it a very big printer, but more than enough to get started with 3D printing.
The bed also isn’t heated so you are better off just printing PLA with it. It has a 0.4mm nozzle and does off-line printing so you don’t need to keep it hooked up to a computer for printing.
This is a kit you have to assemble yourself. As usual the included SD card has all the expected goodies such as an assembly manual, software and a test print file. The structure parts consist of a mixture of laser cut acrylic parts, aluminium extrusions, a steel bracket and even a printed part.
Everything comes nicely packed in a small box and the only complaint I have around the parts list is that most of the screws came in a single bag. This just means some sorting out before you start building, but can be confusing to the newbie who doesn’t know the difference between M3 and M4 screws.
The kit also includes the tools to put everything together and some sample filament for your first test print. The assembly manual was pretty good and I managed to assemble everything in two hours. There were no missing parts, nothing was broken and it came together fairly quickly.
Assembly consists mostly of screwing the right parts to the right places as per the manual. The extruder came mostly built which also makes it a bit easier. After putting together the structure I started connecting all the electronics.
Again the manual was very easy to follow and it was clear how the wiring needed to be done. As with most kits these days, most of the wires had connectors on with the exception of the power wiring as these screwed into screw terminals on the main controller. The kit even included a screw driver just for that purpose.
Once everything was built and connected I powered it up, did basic bed levelling and tested that the hot-end heats up. I loaded the sample filament in the printer and started the test print that comes loaded on the SD card and 20 minutes later I had a finished test print.
In terms of assembly and getting to your first print it went smoothly and I didn’t have any issues, so if that’s your biggest worry with this specific kit printer, it can be put to bed.
The parts are all decent quality, but I did find that the tolerances aren’t that great, especially around the Y-axis (the print bed) and the Z-axis (up and down). While the first print came out good you can see that there is a wobble on those two axes.
I did the initial print on the supplied print sheet, but after the first print the next couple of prints didn’t stay stick very well. It’s not a big deal though and some blue painters tape covering the print sheet and the prints stay stuck perfectly.
The addition of the LCD and offline printing is nice and not something you expect to see on an inexpensive machine. I printed a few more pieces for testing including the famous Benchy.
Apart from the previously mentioned wobble, the prints came out rather nice. I use Simplify3D for my slicing and I found a nice profile for this specific printer.
The wobble is obviously a problem, but because of the price, this printer has obtained quite a community who designed and shared improved parts for it. There are loads of designs on Thingiverse that you can create to improve your machine.
I tried a few of the basic improved parts and it made a good difference. I think with some more 3D printed upgrade parts you could turn this into a very decent printer.
If you are looking to start playing with 3D printing then this isn’t a bad option. You will be limited in size and materials and you would need to do a few upgrades to improve the quality of your prints. But if your budget is tight and you want to try it out before spending more on a bigger machine, then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Thanks to Gearbest for sending this printer to us to review. You can get it from them for $140 (~R1 665).