The xTool S1 diode laser engraver is here! This is xTool’s latest and greatest diode laser, 40 watts of power packed into a fully enclosed, eye-safe enclosure. And it has every feature you could possibly want: auto-focus, curved surface engraving, twin-point positioning, and much more. It also hooks into xTool’s existing ecosystem of accessories, from fire suppression systems to their automatic conveyor feeder.
This is my full review of the xTool S1 laser engraver. I hope you enjoy!
xTool is offering the following early-bird bonuses and discounts:
– Free air assist and honeycomb for both 20w and 40w machines. (10.18-11.2)
– Early Birds Alert [10.18-10.21]: Get the lowest price on the S1. From 10.22 to 11.2, use the exclusive discount code ”200S1” on S1 to enjoy $200 off of purchases of $2000 or more.
Find more information about the xTool S1 below (Affiliate Links):
Hey everyone, and welcome back to Hoffman Engineering! Today we are taking a look xTool’s brand new laser engraver, the xTool S1. This premium laser is the world’s first class-1 safety certified enclosed 40 watt diode laser, which means it is eye friendly and you can run it without needing eye protection. The full enclosure means ventilation and fume extraction is easy. And besides it having a powerful 40-watt laser, it has a load of the latest and greatest features like auto-focus, rotary encoders for positioning, curved surface engraving, and a whole lot more. But are all of these features helpful, or are they just marketing fluff? Lets find out! And stay to the end of the video for a clip that hurts my heart.
Before we begin, this S1 was provided to me for review by xTool for free. However, like all of my reviews, they aren’t paying me for this review, and everything I say is my own honest opinion after using this laser for the last few weeks. They have no editorial control. My videos do have affiliate links in the description, so you can help support my channel at no additional cost to you. So let’s get into it.
The xTool S1 is a fully enclosed benchtop diode laser engraver. The enclosure is one of the biggest changes from their previous diode lasers, so lets start there. It is a rectangular machine, with a total working area of 498 millimeters by 319 millimeters. On the front of the machine you have a mutli-use button with a color changing ring to indicate different modes. The lid is made out of a laser-safe green plastic and closes nicely to ensure no laser light, or fumes, can escape. This means you can operate the machine without you, and everyone around you, needing to wear protective goggles. Stare into it all you want. The lid has an interlock switch, which prevents the machine from running when the lid is open.
The lid of the xTool S1 lifts to reveal the interior of the laser. In here we can find the 40 watt 455 nanometer wavelength diode laser, which emits a visible blue laser light. That 40 watt laser is extremely powerful. I was cutting through 1/8th inch birch plywood at 1000 millimeters per minute (or 17 mm per second), but more on that in a bit. The module includes a red positioning laser, so you can easily move the crosshairs where you want to start cutting. There are two other optional laser modules available. There is a 20 watt diode laser module, with a finer laser dot size for more detailed engravings. They also have a 2 watt 1064 nm infrared laser module, which can engrave on all metals and has crisper engravings on plastics.
The laser module attaches to the movable z-axis, moving the laser up and down. This works in conjunction with the depth probe on the side. The module lifts up to extend the probe, then it moves down until the probe touches your material. The S1 then knows exactly how far away the material is, and can move down to the perfect focus position. This probe also allows for detecting a curved surface, such as this stainless steel flask. Using the curved surface tool in xTool Creative Space, it can automatically map out the surface of an object. After mapping, it can then continually adjust the laser position so it is the perfect distance away from the surface during the entire cut.
The movable z-axis also allows for adjusting the laser mid cut, useful for moving the focus deeper into a thicker material to allow for faster cuts. All the focus adjustments work great, and are pretty intuitive to use.
The bottom of the laser module has covers that magnetically attach, which reveal the air assist hose and laser lens. This makes for tooless cleaning of the laser lens. That is far better than the set-screw covers on previous xTool lasers.
Moving back to the frame, both the x and y axis are belt driven and ride on steel rods. These provide fast and accurate motion. xTools claims speeds up to 600 millimeters per second, and with my tests I saw speeds up to about 550 millimeters per second before it plateaued. That is a very usable speed resulting in quick engravings. The motors have encoders on them, allowing for accurate position tracking even when you move the laser by hand. This makes positioning the laser and your design a breeze. I used it to help me save materials, I had this failed piece of wood, and I could use the position tracking to ensure my next cut avoided that area.
The xTool s1 comes with triangular prism brackets for holding your material off the floor of the machine. As an optional accessory, they sell this honeycomb panel which slides into the machine. The panel comes with 4 strong magnetic hold-downs, and they work great. The panel allows for great ventilation, which you will need with the powerful 40w laser.
Wrapping up the frame, the interior is evenly lit by two led lightbars, one at both the front and back. This is also where the port for the optional RA Pro rotary attachment connects to, allowing for engraving on curved and cylindrical surfaces. The lightbars also contain four sensors for the built in 5-direction flame detectors (the 5th sensor is in the laser module itself). That will immediately cut power to the machine when it detects open flames. It will also trigger the optional Fire Suppression system, which will flood the enclosure with CO2 gas to extinguish any flames. The fire suppression system is an amazing safety accessory, one that is really only possible on a fully enclosed machine like the S1.
Moving around to the back, we see the ventilation duct. The exhaust fan is reasonably powerful, and does a great job of pushing smoke out through the ductwork. I have a window insert with a custom 3D printed adapter, and it does a great job of keeping smoke and fumes out of my office.
Also on the back are all the inputs. We have the power switch, the power input, a USB type C to connect to your computer, and a USB port for a proprietary hardware lock. On the left we have data inputs for accessories like the Air Assist and fire suppression system, and their corresponding tube inputs.
Wait, did I say proprietary hardware lock? Yes, I did. xTool provides a hardware lock that prevents the machine from running unless it is inserted into the machine. It’s their version of a lock-and-key lockout seen on other lasers, so only authorized key holders can use the machine. Thankfully xTool is kind enough to provide 2 keys with the laser.
The optional air assist compressor connects to and can be controlled by the laser. And not just a binary on and off like some other lasers, but it can even adjust the air speeds in the middle of the cut. There is a dial at the top, with settings for the “auto” mode, as well as speeds 1 through 3. The air assist even has a replaceable filter on the bottom, so particles in the air don’t damage the laser’s lens.
Finally, on the side of the laser is an emergency latching switch for easy access. They really did a great job thinking about the safety aspects of this laser.
I’ve talked through many of the optional accessories already, but xTool made the S1 fit in nicely with their existing ecosystem of accessories. It works with the existing RA Pro rotary attachment, fire safety system, and smoke purifier. It even works with their automatic conveyor feeder, allowing for up to 8 feet of material to automatically be moved through the laser. The conveyor and rotary attachment require purchasing the optional Riser Base, which allows the laser to work with larger and thicker materials.
With just the base S1 model, you can work with materials up to 42 millimeters thick. The riser base increases that max thickness up to 125 millimeters. Using the honeycomb panel without the riser has a max thickness of 15 millimeters, and the panel plus the riser increases that to 99 millimeters. Thankfully all those distances are nicely laid out in the detailed, fully colored manual.
As for software, the xTool S1 works with Lightburn as well as xTool’s Creative Space. The xTool Creative Space is the centralized hub for the laser, it’s where you can design and share projects for all xTool’s lasers, as well as where you go to update firmware for the machine. You can connect to the S1 via USB or wirelessly by connecting to wifi. They even have a project library where you can quickly select a project that others have shared. Once you have the design picked out, you click on the Distance button to probe the material and set the autofocus distance. One neat feature of the xTool Creative Space is the Twin-Point Positioning system. You move the laser to the top-left of the area you want to cut, and press the button on the laser. You then move the laser to the bottom-right area, and press the button. This then shows in the design space the outer bounds of your material, as well as the location of the laser in real time. This makes it extremely easy to layout your cuts with confidence.
Once you’ve selected your speeds and powers, you can enter framing mode which outlines the area it will engrave. Then press the button to start the job.
Lightburn works just as well. The pre-built profile includes macros which will auto-focus using the probe. The only difference with lightburn is that it doesn’t support the twin-point positioning feature or the wifi connectivity.
The xTool S1 comes well-packed, with plenty of foam to prevent damage. Assembly was straight forward, lift the machine out, remove all the foam, and peel the protective plastic. Then you just have to slide in the laser module and connect the cables. You can unscrew the vent cover and attach the duct if needed. Finally slide in the honeycomb panel, plug in the air assist, and you are ready to cut. One note, the duct does require about 6.5 inches of clearance from the back of the machine to a wall.
The xTool S1 is a laser engraver, so let’s talk about how well it cuts and engraves. As expected, it works extremely well. The 40 watt laser chews through materials.
I was cutting through 1/8th in birch plywood consistently at 17 mm/s in a single pass. Engraving quality is also very consistent, with speeds up to 550 mm/s. The air assist does a good job of clearing the smoke, so cuts have little discoloration around the edges. My kerf tests show an offset of 0.11 millimeters. That means the laser dot is reasonably well aligned, but it is not the smallest laser dot size. That dot size did not seem to affect my engravings, however. I am more than happy with the results of my image engraving onto wood, running at 500 mm per second. If you want a smaller laser dot for more accuracy, you can always swap to the 20 watt laser module.
Diode lasers cannot cut clear acrylics, but opaque acrylics work great! I was cutting through 1/8th inch black acrylic at 8 millimeters per second, the fastest of all the diode lasers I’ve reviewed so far. I was happy with the engraving quality on these keychains, but there is some residue on the edges. It might be better to slow it down at a lower power to clean up the cuts.
My leather tests also showed a high quality, consistent engravings. My test engraved deeper than I was expecting, looks like I underestimated the power of the 40 watt laser. Like with the acrylic, it might be worth while to slow it down and run at a lower power to clean up the edges.
I absolutely love engraving slate on the S1. These coasters turned out great, and the alignment laser and positioning system helped me easily center the design. No more guess work needed.
These anodized aluminum cards were also no problem for the S1. I was engraving at 100% power at 300 millimeters per second, which means each card only took 4 minutes to engrave. That is very quick, with great results.
Finally we have stainless steel. By varying the speed and power, you can get some very nice colors on stainless steel. Blues, browns, and grays showed up well on my tests. The flask was also a fun project, because I could use the curved engraving feature of xTool Creative Space to map out the surface for a consistent engraving over the entire surface.
Lastly, lets talk about issues I ran into. During one of my earliest tests, Lightburn ran into a USB communication issue which stopped the machine mid-job. However, xTool has been quickly pushing out new firmwares, and I have not run into that issue again in my hours of testing after updating to the latest firmware. They’ve also been releasing new lightburn profiles, simplifying the macros for autofocus and the rotary attachment. The only hiccup I ran into was user error, where I would forget to close the lid before trying to move the laser in lightburn, and wonder why the laser wouldn’t move… But I ran into no other issues during my testing.
So in conclusion, the xTool S1 is a top-of-the-line diode laser engraver with all the bells and whistles. The enclosure is amazing, allowing me to keep a diode laser directly in my office. Being class-1 certified, meaning no eye protection is needed, is a huge leap of safety for this machine. The 40 watt diode laser is incredibly powerful, with cutting speeds at the very top of the charts of all the lasers that I’ve tested. Between the positioning laser, rotary encoders, and software assists like the twin-point positioning makes it very easy to accurately position the laser over your material. Autofocus works great, and xTool’s curved surface engraving is just the cherry on top. Every feature seems to work as advertised, which is not something I can often say. I also love how it fits into the existing xTool’s ecosystem, with it working with the existing rotary attachments, fire suppression system, and even the conveyor feeder.
If you know anything about the xTools lasers, it’s that they command a premium price for all the features they pack into their machines. And the S1 is no exception. The S1 launched with an MSRP of $2499 US Dollars for the 40 watt version. Initial orders include the air assist and honeycomb panel for free, but purchasing them separately will cost $169 USD each. The 20 watt version is $400 cheaper, selling at $2099 US dollars. Orders in the first two days after launch have a $500 discount, bringing the pricing down to $1999 and $1599 respectively.
Whether or not the xTool S1 is worth it depends on a few factors. If safety is paramount, and you are in an environment where multiple people could be around the laser at anytime, then the piece of mind that comes with the S1’s laser-safe enclosure is almost priceless. The ability to contain the fumes and vent outside or into a smoke purifier can also make finding a place in your shop for this laser much easier. If all you need is a powerful 40 watt laser, then you could find more traditional benchtop laser engravers at a lower price. But all the If you are looking for the safest, and yet most powerful diode laser on the market, then I would highly recommend the xTool S1.
So thank you all for watching my review of the xTool S1 laser engraver. Let me know what your favorite feature is in the comments below, or let me know what features it’s missing! And be sure to subscribe to Hoffman Engineering so you don’t miss any of my future videos.
For those of you who stuck around to the end, let me show you a clip that hurt my soul. Are you ready for the best peel of all time? Yeah… that hurt to watch. So thank you all for watching, and I’ll see you all next time!