3.1. Initial impressions of the Artillery Sidewinder X1¶
These notes are based on my experiences with the Prusa i3 Mk3 and Artillery/Evnovo Sidewinder X1 printers. If you are using a different printer, please verify the hardware details are similar.
I received my Artillery Sidewinder mid-March 2020 and it’s now mid-May. It’s a nice enough printer, but it has some definite faults. Here are some initial impressions on the Artillery/Evnovo Sidewinder X1 printer after roughly 60 days.
I had watched numerous YouTube videos on the printer, and was expecting to have to do a lot of adjustments. I was very surprised and pleased that it assembled in minutes and all movement was spot-on. I haven’t noticed any assembly issues.
The biggest failing has been the AC heated bed. The cables simply aren’t protected well enough. I knew this, but figured I’d address it after the big COVID printing push. 15 days in, I got MINTEMP errors and -15C bed temp readings. I determined the thermistor cable had snapped. Despite the thick jacket around the bed cables, it had worn through at the chassis. Fortunately, the AC cables remained intact. After 3 days of emails, Artillery agreed to send a replacement bed heater pad (the thermistor is hard-wired to it) on a “priority basis” but it still hasn’t shown up. I ordered a spare from a small shop in Las Vegas which arrived promptly, but in the meantime, I was able to splice in a repair. I’ve printed up a very robust cable chain and will add a 3mm strand of ABS filament (following Prusa’s model) when it arrives later today. This is a HUGE failing for a new user, especially considering that’s AC power cabling!
The Ultrabase-style glass bed is a beast. It heats very quickly, thanks to that (potentially lethal) AC heating. It had a clear depression in the center. Not the usual bowl shape, but with the left & right sides noticeably higher than the center. I ran the procedure of loosening the bed, running 2 cycles of heating to 100C for 10 minutes, then cooling, reassembled and did the final leveling at 70C. That helped. I repeated the process again and added 2 shims made out of 3 layers of the high-impact packing foam inserted between the frame and bed insulation. There is still a dip but I’d say less than 0.04mm. Adhesion was OK to start with and is excellent now.
I do miss being able to take the bed to the sink for a cleaning. At one point during the COVID push, I had used a lot of glue stick. Washing it off, I managed to get a couple of drops on the display and the lighting is a bit uneven now.
I ordered a 10ml sample of the VisionMiner nano bed adhesive. This stuff is AMAZING. Parts grip, but release once FULLY cooled. No cheating on this one, you have to let that glass cool off, sometimes 30 minutes or more. But very good adhesion when warm. Clean the bed with isopropyl alcohol, then apply per the instructions and it works very well. No brims needed even for extreme adhesion tests. I do use mouse ears on large parts that tend to warp in corners and that is sufficient for both PLA and PETG.
The extruder is a cheap geared Titan clone. The tension arm is notorious for breaking off despite being injection molded. Do NOT apply pressure to the top of the lever, only at the bottom. The original is working so far, but I have to remember to be careful. The tension arm is a bit wobbly. There’s a fast print brace that fits in that makes it much more secure. I have a metal replacement arm on hand and recommend that as a priority purchase. There’s a fiddly bit of PTFE at the top that is important but easily lost. However, it is an absolute breeze to insert filament and do cold pulls. I may replace the clone extruder with a genuine BMG or other E3D extruder once I am confident in what needs to be done.
The filament sensor is a joke. I think I will be able to swap filament using Octoprint, but 50:50 success so far. Otherwise, I move spools nearing empty to the Prusa.
I hate the touch screen. TH3D has produced an “upgrade” that replaces the silly touchscreen with an LCD panel and knob just like the Prusa. This also incorporates a REAL filament runout sensor, so I’ll be installing one soon.
The Artillery firmware is marginal. I’ll upgrade to TH3D’s firmware when I do the panel swap.
The Artillery printers are well suited for high volume printing. The Volcano clone hotend performs as advertised. You can’t (readily) get nozzles smaller than 0.4mm, so these aren’t good 1st time hobbyist printers for anybody wanting to do miniatures. They do, however, push filament through at fast rates without complaint. I’ve mounted a 1.2mm nozzle, and provided I don’t mind chonky parts, I can print at full speed at 0.96mm layer height. It seems happiest with a 0.6mm nozzle for most things.
For some reason, Artillery ships a PTFE-lined heatbreak, which limits temps. I’ve got a all-metal titanium E3D heatbreak on order. With a PTFE tube trim, installation should be simple.
I’m glad I had a Prusa to learn on. The Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a good 2nd printer for somebody with some experience and the ability to fix basic problems on their own. Support is sketchy, though Facebook is supposed to be where most of the information is available. Don’t use it much myself. If this had been my first printer, I’d probably be mostly satisfied but figuring everything out would have slowed me down quite a bit.
My original decision was between the Artillery Sidewinder X1, Genius or Sovol SV01 due to cost and delivery time constraints. My impression of the Genius was overall about the same as the Sidewinder, but the small bed put me off. The Sovol SV01 has a nicely sized build area but I wanted a bit more room for the COVID printing and I’m glad I did. I think the Artillery is a bit higher quality overall than Sovol/Creality based on what I’m reading and viewing online. I am so glad I didn’t try a Bowden-style setup.
Now that things are slowly returning to normal, the Sidewinder is going to be my “big stuff” printer, likely with a 0.8mm nozzle mounted most of the time, and the Prusa the “detail stuff” printer, likely with a 0.5mm nozzle mounted most of the time.
Good 2nd printer, or 1st if you have a smart friend nearby for help.
Things are going to break, and quickly, so add spares to your order with the money “saved” by going with a cheaper printer.
I like the larger build volume, but would gladly have bought a 2nd Prusa Mk3 or the promised 400x400 (maybe) if they were available.
Contact and feedback
You can find me on the Prusa support forums or Reddit where I lurk in many of the 3D printing-related subreddits. I occasionally drop into the Official Prusa 3D discord server where I can be reached as bobstro (bobstro#9830). You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last edited on Mar 23, 2021. Last build on Apr 19, 2021.