The XTool D1 Pro diode laser engraver has been one of the machines I have written about and gotten the most questions about lately. Now I have been lasering with it for a while, what is it like in real day-to-day use?
xTool Review TL;DR
The xTool D1 Pro is not just a great value diode laser engraver, the D1 Pro is an excellent laser cutter for beginners, hobbyists, and DIY enthusiasts. The machine, when fitted with a 10w or better diode laser module and xTool enclosure, could even be the beginning of a small business as a maker.
Overview of the xTool D1 Pro
xTool is the name most people recognize but the company behind the machine is Makeblock, better known for educational robot kits, etc. The D1 is just the latest in their line of laser engravers, arriving in 2021.
It quickly became one of the most popular diode lasers on the market, due to its quality construction and powerful laser heads, and with certainly a lot of competition aiming to beat them on price at the sacrifice of features, quality, or documentation.
While the xTool D1 Pro comes as a nicely packaged open-frame kit, unlike its fully enclosed sibling the M1 and some competitors such as Gweike and Glowforge, everything goes together easily and there are no concerns you are going to catastrophically get the build wrong.
Working with the xTool D1 Pro
The XTool D1 Pro is a diode laser that might at first look seem pretty typical, but in use, it stands out in quality with its high-grade aluminum construction and with documentation and tutorials that are actually good.
While the model I was sent is the 10W version for this review, there is a very capable 20W option also available, and now even a pricy 40w announced. For most purposes, the 10W will suffice for all but the most demanding of use cases.
Comparing a diode laser to Co2 is not apples to apples, they work on a different frequency with trade-offs. So a Co2 can’t mark metal without additives but can cut most acrylics. In the diode world, some acrylic will need to be masked to be cut by the laser but you can mark stainless steel (and with the 20W even cut some thin metals), and there is even an option of an IR laser head too.
Of course where the XTool beats all but the most “off-brand” lasers is price. You won’t find a cheaper, but still quality, entry into the laser cutter market. This is partly because the package is really focused on the essentials to get you laser cutting. Having cartesian stepper motors, belts, and extrusion-type construction, it’s not much different to the laser heads that you can attach to your 3D printer or CNC.
Future models, maybe even the version currently available, will have added limit switches and safety features, so they are improving the design all the time.
Even with the air assist and other useful accessories, you are still going to come in way under the price of a truly pro laser engraver, or even desktop models such as the Glowforge or Gweike. You can purchase from Amazon too, meaning shipping speed and price might be an advantage depending on where you live. I would advise you to buy the excellent LightBurn for a small additional cost but you can, of course, get up and running with their free software too.
One of my favorite aspects of using LightBurn on the machine is I don’t have to convert to SVG, PDF, or DXF, LightBurn understands the Adobe Illustrator .AI file format directly, saving me time.
The downside is this is fully open, with no ventilation or enclosure, so you will need to have a fan blowing and good ventilation in the room, especially if cutting noxious stinky materials. I purchased the enclosure and was happy to have it. Many people have built their own enclosures at much lower prices than the prebuilt varieties.
xTool D1 Pro Specifications
xTool D1 Pro has a maximum cutting area of 430mm x 400mm (or in inches, 16.93″x15.75″). You can expand both the width of the cutting area and also the height using optionally purchased expansions.
My unit came with a 10w diode but 5w and 20w are available, even a 40+w if you can find it. The laser has a very small laser spot, at only 0.08mm, making it excellent for fine engraves and small kerfs on cuts.
Mine did not come with a honeycomb crumb tray so I purchased one to protect my work surface and prevent flashbacks from the laserbeam hitting the surface and bouncing back to the material.
As well as various software tools (eg. Laserbox) available from xTool and other places for MacOs, Windows and Linux, one of the major selling points of the machine is LightBurn compatibility, which is fast becoming the standard for these types of machines.
For myself, the USB cable for connectivity is absolutely fine, but I understand there is wifi and an app that I didn’t bother to explore. There is also a TF card (or SD card?) slot apparently, again I didn’t try that.
At only roughly 5kg it is a light machine to throw around, making it almost a portable unit if it wasn’t for its 24″x24″ dimensions. Having an open frame it means “workpiece height” has a different meaning to most “lasers”, you can essentially pop it on top of the item you want to engrave then go to town!
Pros and Cons of the xTool D1 Pro
Overall the xTool D1 Pro is an excellent introduction to the world of laser engraving.
- Low entry price means you can get started and see if lasers are for you.
- 10w and especially 20w are capable of cutting
- Ease of use – Lots of great tutorials and videos, but it is pretty straightforward and intuitive once you get going too.
- LightBurn compatibility – While there is free software, LightBurn is the best software.
- Base price might not be what you pay – Honeycomb, air assist, and enclosure are not necessarily included in the price
- 10w/20w vs 40+w – Not as powerful as Gweike or Glowforge that the xTool might be compared with
- Kit – Self-assembly, no matter how easy, is still self-assembly
Conclusion: xTool D1 Laser Engraver, yes or no?
If you are looking for a low-cost but quality entry into laser engraving then I would highly recommend this laser. The xTool D1 Pro is not just a great value diode laser engraver, the 10w xTool is an excellent laser cutter, I can only imagine how much more capable it is in the xTool D1 Pro 20w incarnation. With 10w it is certainly able to cut 3mm plywood, MDF, acrylic, card/paper, and leather – all the things that most people will want to do until they graduate to full production.
If you have a bit more budget, check out the fully-enclosed, 40W (!) xTool S1 diode laser which takes everything that is so great about the D1 and ramps things up a notch.
xTool Laser Cutter Frequently Asked Questions
The xTool is a good laser engraver, and more than that it is capable of laser cutting too. This engraving machine is well-made, with beautiful metal construction, lightburn compatibility, and a large working area comparable to much more expensive Co2 lasers.
The xTool D1 is absolutely worth it, it is excellent value for money, and I imagine a serious hobbyist could more than make back the cost of the machine by selling crafts.
In some ways, the xTool is better than Glowforge in that it can work offline, without a wifi connection, and is Lightburn software compatible, but I would say Glowforge is easier for beginners, despite xTool having a great quick start guide, and Glowforge is more capable being a Co2 laser, with more laser power.
It’s hard to choose which is better but if you have the extra money, the xTool M1 is the best laser of the two, because it is fully enclosed and has the laser header or blade-cutting option.
The xTool D1 can cut 3mm plywood, basswood, and acrylic, or better when fitted with the air assist, and can even mark stainless steel and ceramics.
The xTool D1’s maximum cutting size is an area of 430mm x 400mm (or in inches, 16.93″x15.75″). Purchase risers to increase the Z height of the xTool D1 Pro to engrave to a maximum workspace height of 140mm. An extension kit is available to expand the usable X and Y axis work area to 946x432mm.
The main differences between the M1 and D1 are the M1 is fully enclosed, has a built-in camera, and has the laser header or blade option allowing it to be a knife-cutting machine for paper, vinyl, etc.
The price of the xTool D1 varies depending on which laser head you opt for (they vary in output power, plus there is even an IR option), if you are buying from Amazon or direct, and the promotions Makeblock/xTool that are running, but the xTool D1 Pro used in this review was priced at around $600 US or £650 in the UK at the time of writing. Check the current price here.