(I was sent a complimentary M1 Machine by xTool to facilitate this review. However, the views and opinions expressed here are entirely my own. You can read my full disclosure here)
Are you looking into buying the xTool M1 but have Questions about the machine?
The xTool M1 is a moderately sized, fully enclosed hybrid 3 in 1 Laser Engraver, Laser Cutter, and Blade cutting machine. It is easy to use and can work with a variety of materials to make some amazing projects. It is the perfect tool to take your crafting to a whole new level whether for hobby or small business use.
Ever since the xTool M1 was presented to the world (via a Kickstarter campaign that was fully funded in just 15 minutes) the internet has been on fire with questions from crafters about this new crafting machine.
Here are the answers to the top 20 xTool M1 Questions:
1. How powerful is the xTool M1?
The xTool M1 comes in both a 5 Watt model (which is what I have) and a 10 Watt model. If you want a more powerful Diode laser (still at an affordable price) xTool has a D1 Laser Engraver & Cutting machine that is available in 10 & 20 Watt versions as well as a special xTool D1 Pro 10W + 40W Laser Cutting Bundle. I also hear they are working on their own enclosed CO2 laser though that is not available yet in the US.
Both the 5W & 10W versions of the M1 look the same and work the same. The difference in power allows the M1 10W to engrave faster and to cut thicker materials with fewer passes making it more convenient to do multiple projects at a time. If you have it in your budget I would totally recommend the 10W over the 5W for this very reason. However, as I said both units are great! So you would be happy with either unit.
2. How much does the M1 Cost
There are 2 Models of the xTool M1. You can get the 5W which is $1299 and the 10W which is $1499. Though if you keep your eyes out you can often find them on sale for less!
3. Why is the xool M1 so much less expensive than the Glowforge?
While they may look similar and have some similar capabilities they actually use 2 different kinds of lasers. The Glowforge uses a Co2 laser which is more powerful at 40-45 watts and has the ability to work with a wider range of materials including clear glass and acrylics without needing any masking.
The xTool M1 is a diode laser. This kind of laser is less powerful and by nature a bit more limited in what materials it can cut and engrave which is what makes it less expensive. However, though the M1's diode laser is a bit more limited in what materials it can work with, the list of materials it can work with expands when you add in its ability to also cut materials with a blade. Together with the Laser and Blade, the M1 can actually work with 300+ materials! It is the hybrid nature of the M1 that makes it such a great addition to any craft room. Especially with the more affordable price!
*It's also important to note that diode lasers are also more durable than CO2 lasers. So thats great too!
4. How hard is it to set up the Xtool M1?
First of all, I am happy to report that the xTool M1 is ready to use right out of the box. It takes less than 20 minutes to fully set up and the biggest part is hooking up the exhaust hose that comes with the unit (which was super easy to do) and downloading the xTool Design software. The step-by-step instructions are in the manual that comes with the unit and are very easy to follow.
Once the machine is set up it is just a matter of getting to know the software and experimenting with different materials.
5. What comes with the xTool M1?
The xTool M1 comes with everything you need to get started including sample materials to do your first test projects. Here is the list of everything that comes with the M1:
- The M1 machine
- Power cord
- USB Cable (to connect your M1 & Computer)
- Exhaust Pipe Kit
- Fabric grip mat & Strong grip mat (to use for materials to be cut with the Blade)
- Blade housing for the Xtool & 5 replacement Blades
- A set of Triangular Risers (to use when cutting materials with the laser so air can move beneath the material)
- A variety of test materials (including a sheet of 3mm Basswood Plywood, Vinyl, Faux Leather & a Stainless Steel Dog tag.
6. Are there any add on Accessories you Recommend?
Yes, there are a few I would totally recommend depending on what kind of projects you want to use your xTool M1 for.
- RA2 (extension accessory to engrave on rounded objects like tumblers, glasses, rings, and ornaments)
- Honeycomb & risers (which allow you to work with thicker materials as well as get better airflow for cleaner laser cutting)
- Air assist (which sucks out the dust and fumes while laser engraving and cutting for a cleaner finish with less scorching)
7. What kind of files can you use with your xTool M1?
It is true that the xTool M1 can use a variety of file types. However, the type of file does determine what the M1 can do. XCS files are saved files from Xtool Creative Space. In addition to these files:
dxf, svg (or vectorized files) are the best files. These types of files allow you the ability to score, engrave and cut.
JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIF, CR2 (or raster files) can be used but only allow you the option to score.
8. How to you change the setting to use the blade instead of the Laser to cut?
The top right dropdown (which defaults to Laser Flat) has several options that you can choose from for the machine operation. To cut with the blade instead of the laser you would need to select one of the 2 blade-cutting options. Here are all the options available and what to use them for:
- Laser Flat is for when you want to use the laser to score, engrave or cut an item placed inside the M1
- Laser Cylindrical is used in conjunction with the RA2 add-on accessory for when you want to do rounded surfaces like cups, tumblers, rings, ornaments, etc.
- Open Plane is what you would use when you take off the bottom plate and use raisers to life up the M1 to work with thicker materials
- Blade Cut is what you would select when you want to use the blade to cut your material instead of the laser
- Print and Blade Cut is what you would use if you want to print out a design and then have the blade cut the design out.
9. What is the difference between Score, Engrave & Cut options for the M1
Score, Engrave & Cut are all setting options when using the M1 Laser.
- Score does a fine outline for the design image and lettering
- Engrave goes deeper and fills in the design
- Cut does just that. It cuts out the design.
10. Do I have to use the USB cable to connect the xTool M1 to my computer?
No. The M1 does have Wifi connectivity ability as well. However, I do recommend using the USB cable when possible. Why? Well, what if your wifi connectivity fluctuates in the middle of a project? It would ruin the project and waste the material. This is a lot more likely when doing very long (like several hours long) projects.
11. What Materials work with the xTool M1 Diode Laser
xTool M1 machines can work with hundreds of materials. Here are some popular materials you can use with the xTool M1:
Wood - (You can work with all kinds of wood.) You can score, engrave and cut wood. The thickness of the wood you can cut in 1 pass depends on if you have the 5W or 10W. For my 5W though I can cut thicker wood I find I prefer 3mm for the best results without having to make several passes with the laser. The 10W can cut 5 or 6mm wood in one pass. For thicker wood and harder wood, you will probably need to do multiple passes to cut through. For laser engraving plywood like basswood, bamboo, and even acacia wood are popular.
Acrylics - The M1 laser can cut and engrave on a variety of colors of acrylic including black, red, green, and yellow.
Metal - the M1 can laser cannot cut metal. However, it can engrave harder metals like stainless steel, coated metal, and anodized material.
Certain types of Foam - such as polyester (PES), polyethylene (PE) or polyurethane (PUR) are very suitable for processing with the laser cutting machine.
Slate - The M1 cannot cut slate but engraves on it beautifully.
Cardboard & Thicker Cardstock- Both of these materials cut out beautifully with the M1 laser giving you crisp fine lines.
Laser engraving rubber stamp Sheets - You can cut and engrave these sheets to make your own custom stamps and decorations. Just make sure you vent well for the fumes.
Leather & PU Leather - You can cut out leather with the M1 Laser and you can engrave on both leather and faux leather. (I usually cut out thin faux leather using the blade option)
Food - Yes you can engrave and in some instances cut out food with the M1. I have used it to engrave on poptarts and cookies. I have seen demonstrations of it cutting out designs in chocolate.
12. What Materials DO NOT Work with the M1 Diode Laser
The M1 laser is a blue light Diode laser which does have more limitations on which materials it can work with. Here are a few of the big ones:
Certain Colors of Acrylic - Blue acrylics and clear glass. However, you can still engrave on these materials. You just need to make sure you mask the area first using either masking paper or paint.
Soft Metals - It cannot engrave soft metals like gold, silver, brass, and copper. These soft metals need a high laser power than a diode laser to heat and mark.
There are also materials you should never try to use with any laser diode or CO2. These are the big ones:
PVC (stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride.) It is a polymer that produces chlorine gas when exposed to a laser.
Coated Carbon Fiber - If the carbon fiber is coated, then its coating can release various toxic gasses. These fumes are very harmful and can lead to respiratory diseases.
HDPE (High-Density Polyurethane made from petroleum) You cannot cut this material with a laser because it will melt and gets gooey when exposed to a laser. It can also catch fire easily.
Polystyrene and Polypropylene Foam These are two types of foam. You dont want to use a laser on them because they catch fire quickly, and when you try to cut them using a laser machine they wont cut they will just melt.
13. What materials can you cut with the M1 Blade`
The xTool M1 blade can cut standard crafting materials (like a Cricut explore air) I wouldn't use it to cut anything too hard or thick or even delicate however these materials cut great:
- Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
- Faux Leather
- Sticker paper
14. How do you size and align the designs to go where you want on the materials?
The xTool M1 has a built-in 16MP High-resolution camera which allows you to see in the xTool Creative Space Design Software what you place in the unit. Then you can select your design and size it to what you need and then place the design exactly where on the material you want it to be scored, engraved, or cut.
15. Can I share files saved from my Xtool Creative Space with others?
Yes! When you save a file from xTool Creative Space it saves as a XCS. file which you can then share with anyone via email.
To use that XCS. file the person you shared it with would need to;
- Open xTool Creative Space
- Select File (top left of screen)
- Select Open Project
- Select the XCS. file
Note: These XCS. design files only work with Xtool Creative Space software.
16. How long does it take to do a project with the M1
This all depends on what material you are working with, how big or intricate the design is, and if you are using the laser (to score, engrave, or cut) or the physical blade.
When you click the green Process button an estimated time will pop up for the project. the estimated time is usually conservative (meaning it usually takes 30-50% longer on average)
So far I have had projects that took less than 15 minutes and projects that took about 4 hours. It all depends.
17. What is the work space of the xTool M1
The workspace or material area of the M1 is 15″ wide x 12″ tall.
18. Do I have to wear safety glasses to watch my progress on my M1
No. The xTool M1 is a fully contained unit that has a special transparent blue light-filtering lid that allows you to watch what is happening in real-time inside the M1 while it is working. If you remove the bottom plate and set your machine one riser to work with bigger materials make sure you do not look at the laser from underneath without proper protective eye cover. But you are safe watching through the lid.
19. Can I Pause my project without ruining it?
You can pause your project at any time and then unpause to continue without ruining your project. I have done this many times when checking to make sure it is engraving or cutting the material as I desired.
The pause feature is also important option in case anything goes wrong (like a fire) The moment you press pause or open the lid the machine freezes and wont start again until you select start and push the button on the front.
20. Can I use my xTool M1 to engrave Food
Yes, you can engrave food with the xTool M1. I have engraved designs in cookies and pop-tarts and have seen people engrave on pies and even use the laser to cut out patterns in chocolates.
One thing to note. If you are wanting to use the M1 to laser engrave/cut the food I would recommend doing that BEFORE you use it with other products that could contain toxic or semi-toxic materials like metals and acrylics and leather. No matter how well you clean out your machine (because it is enclosed) you don't know if all the harmful particles have been removed.
If you are wanting to work with food regularly as well as other materials you might want to consider getting 2 M1 machines and dedicating one specifically for food to avoid the contamination issue.
Do you still have questions about the xTool M1? Ask them in the comments below and I will make sure to answer them for you!
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