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xTool F1 Review: Hands-on Tests

xTool F1 Review: Hands-on Tests

xTool F1 Review: Hands-on Tests

F1 is an innovative, modular, dual-laser engraver from xTool. It engraves faster and can work on most materials.

This article critically reviews the xTool F1 laser engraver by putting it to the test. I'll share how it performed and my honest opinion on the pricing, features, upgrades, and more.

ProsCons
Engraves on most materialsDoesn't support air assist
Fast engravingSmall engraving area
Quick setup
Autofocus capability
Outline preview
Expandable with accessories
Pros and cons of xTool F1

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Xtool F1 Test Results: How did it Perform?

I tested xTool F1's performance on different materials with the default settings loaded on the xTool Creative Space (XCS) software.

The software will automatically fill out other settings once you select the material you are working with.

Choosing material on XCS software
Choosing material on XCS software

This is not always reliable, such as when performing cutting jobs, as you'll have to adjust the laser settings based on the material thickness.

Using the infrared laser in F1, I could engrave on black acrylic at 140 - 180 speed mm/sec using 90% power.

The engraving came out pretty good with a clear white color.

Acrylic engraved using xTool F1
Acrylic engraved using xTool F1

To cut the same 3mm thick acrylic, I used the diode laser module built into xTool F1 using 100% power and 2mm/sec speed in a single pass.

Unlike engraving, the cutting job took more time and even surpassed the estimated time shown in the software.

Acrylic cut on xTool F1
Acrylic cut on xTool F1

Also, along the cut line of acrylic, I noticed an angled cut rather than a straight cut, as seen on most diode lasers. This is due to the galvo head reflecting the laser beam from a single point.

I could easily engrave on wood (plywood) with the diode laser using 80% power, 420 dot duration, and 270 DPI.

The engraving had good clarity when performed using the Jarvis mode in a single pass.

Plywood engraved using xTool F1
Plywood engraved using xTool F1

Unfortunately, I was not able to get a clean cut on plywood. The laser beam couldn't pass through the 2mm thickness, which may be because of the adhesives inside the wood layers.

Wood attempted to cut using xTool F1
Wood attempted to cut using xTool F1

I also tried removing rust from an old chisel using the IR module in xTool F1 at 550 mm/sec speed using 50% power.

Removing rust using xTool F1
Removing rust using xTool F1

The result was pretty neat, and this is a viable way to remove rust. Since F1 is portable, you can hold it at different angles to remove rust from complex surfaces.

I used the same settings to engrave an image on stainless steel. Here's the result.

Stainless steel engraved using xTool F1
Stainless steel engraved using xTool F1

xTool F1 Review: What's Unique?

ParameterxTool F1
Laser Modules10W 450nm laser
2W 1064nm infrared laser
Spot sizeDiode: 0.08 x 0.06 mm
Infrared: 0.03 x 0.03 mm
AutofocusYes
Resolution1270 DPI
Removable base plateYes
Max Speed4000 mm/s
Engraving Area115 x 115 mm (expandable)
Footprint179 x 235 x 334 mm
PreviewYes
Rotary engravingYes (needs additional accessory)
Engraving Precision0.002 mm
Supported SoftwarexTool Creative Space
LightBurn
Supported filesSVG, DXF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc.
ConnectivityUSB, WiFi
Warranty12 months
PriceCheck Price
A quick overview of xTool F1

xTool F1 combines the power of diode and infrared lasers.

With its 10W diode laser, you can effortlessly engrave on various materials such as wood, leather, ceramic, glass, rock, and rubber.

Also, the 2W infrared laser can be used on gold, silver, copper, acrylic, stainless steel, plastic, and aluminum.

However, you can't turn on the diode and infrared laser at the same time. You have to work with one at a time.

You can easily switch between the two laser modes from the software. This streamlines the engraving process without any manual intervention.

This switching happens automatically as you choose the material you want to engrave.

If, for some reason, you want to switch the selected laser, you can do so by going into the object settings within the software.

xTool F1 works with xTool Creative Space (XCS) and LigtBurn software. XCS is free to use, while LigtBurn is paid.

xTool Creative Space software
xTool Creative Space software

Unfortunately, when using LightBurn, you won't be able to switch between lasers. For that, you have to use XCS.

F1 laser engraver can be connected to a computer (Windows or Mac) via WiFi or USB.

Also, with the XCS mobile app, you can operate the F1 using an iPad, iPhone, or Android device.

One exciting update the XCS software recently got is the built-in AI image generator that allows you to input text commands and get unique AI-generated images.

This offers a quick and creative way to add royalty-free artwork or designs to your projects without needing external image resources.

Unlike most laser engraves, F1 doesn't use stepper motors to move the laser head along the XY axes. Instead, it uses a dual mirror galvanometer, making it faster than regular desktop laser engravers.

The machine has a lead screw drive along the Z-axis, allowing smooth focus adjustments.

You can either set the laser focus manually using the knob on the right side of the machine or enter the workpiece thickness on the software, and the machine will automatically adjust the focus for you.

laser focus adjustment knob on xTool F1
Laser focus adjustment knob on xTool F1

To compare, xTool D1 Pro, another capable machine from xTool, can only engrave at a max speed of 400mm/s, which is ten times slower than the F1.

Maybe that's why xTool calls it the F1, because of its sheer speed (4000mm/s).

The galvanometer system's ingenious structure ensures precise and smooth engraving, allowing you to make detailed designs more accurately.

Preview switch on xTool F1
Preview switch on xTool F1

xTool also has a frame and design outline preview feature. To make this work, xTool uses a harmless blue light and galvanometer.

This quickly shows the area on the workpiece the laser will print and how the design will look.

Live preview feature of xTool F1
Live preview feature of xTool F1

F1 laser engraver has a unique design that allows you to use it in a desktop configuration or handheld.

Handle on xTool F1
Handle on xTool F1

This enables you to engrave at different angles on otherwise hard-to-reach surfaces.

F1 also has a removable base plate. Once you remove it, you can aim F1 at any flat surface and fire the laser to engrave on the surface.

Removable base plate on xTool F1
Removable base plate on xTool F1

You may wonder if using the machine this way is safe. Yes, F1 has an enclosed design that blocks the laser beam while the built-in exhaust fan draws out the fumes.

exhaust fan on xTool F1
Exhaust fan on xTool F1

F1 also has an emergency stop button on the left side that you can quickly reach to stop the machine's operation.

emergency switch on xTool F1
Emergency switch on xTool F1

If you plan to use the machine in an enclosed area, such as an apartment building, I recommend getting the desktop smoke purifier from xTool.

F1 is also compatible with xTool's slide extension and RA2 Pro accessories. You can purchase them separately or as a bundle with the machine.

The slide extension expands F1's default work area of 115 x 115mm to 400 x 115mm.

slide extension on xTool F1
Slide extension on xTool F1

The RA2 Pro allows you to engrave complex shapes like cylinders and spheres.

Working with the RA2 rotary
Working with the RA2 rotary

The Engraving Process: What's it Like to Use xTool F1?

The engraving process using xTool F1 is quite simple.

First, connect the F1 laser engraver to a computer or mobile device using WiFi or USB and import the design you want to work with.

Connectivity ports on xTool F1
Connectivity ports on xTool F1

The software supports image files like SVG, DXF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc. Among them, SVG and DXF are vector formats. Whereas JPG, JPEG, PNG, and BMP are raster image formats.

It's best to work with vector files as they are made using lines and curve paths, which a laser beam can easily follow to make accurate and repeatable engravings.

Once the image is ready, select the material you are working with. When you choose the material, XCS automatically adjusts the laser settings with their recommended values.

You can either proceed with this setting or adjust it manually to fit your setup.

Next, set the laser beam in focus by entering the workpiece thickness in the software or using the focus adjustment knob.

Now, you are ready to run the engraving or cutting job.

You can use F1 to cut on thin workpieces like paper cards, foils, etc. I don't recommend using it to cut wood or acrylic, as F1 doesn't have an air assist.

Yes, you can cut them with the diode laser onboard F1, but you won't get clean cuts.

As with any laser, ancillary equipment like ventilation and protective gear is necessary when working with xTool F1.

A Closer Look at The Pricing Debate

Unfortunately, xTool F1 is not frugal. The basic package, xTool F1 Standalone, costs about $1999, almost four times that of a standard desktop "diode" laser engraver.

But unlike these machines, xTool F1 is not only a diode laser engraver. It also features an IR laser, which means you get the goodness of two different laser machines in one.

You'll have to spend more bucks if you have to buy two separate machines with each of these laser modules and a galvo head.

Yes, you may be able to save some money by buying these machines separately without a galvo head, but that will be soon spent on electricity as they take more time to complete a job.

Ultimately, it's only fair to compare xTool F1 with one of its kind: LaserPecker 4.

xTool F1 vs LaserPecker 4

ParameterxTool F1LaserPecker 4
Laser Modules10W 450nm laser
2W 1064nm infrared laser
10W 450nm laser
2W 1064nm infrared laser
Spot sizeDiode: 0.08 x 0.06 mm
Infrared: 0.03 x 0.03 mm
0.003 mm
AutofocusYesNo
Resolution1270 DPI1,289 DPI
Removable base plateYesYes
Max Speed4000 mm/s2000 mm/s
Engraving Area115 x 115 mm (expandable)160 x 120 mm (expandable)
Footprint179 x 235 x 334 mm260.5 x 218 x 283.5 mm
PreviewYesYes
Rotary engravingYes (needs additional accessory)Yes (needs additional accessory)
Engraving Precision0.002 mm0.003 mm
Supported SoftwarexTool Creative Space
LightBurn
LaserPecker Design Space
LightBurn
Supported filesSVG, DXF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc.G-Code, JPG, PNG, BMP, SVG, DWG, DXF, etc.
ConnectivityUSB, WiFiUSB, WiFi
Warranty12 months2 years
Price$1,999 (without any offer)$1,999 (without any offer)
A quick comparison of xTool F1 and LaserPecker 4

The xTool F1 and LaserPecker 4 (LP4) are two of the most popular dual laser modular engravers on the market.

In terms of design, the xTool F1 has a more compact, portable body with a lift-up lid for easy access, allowing convenient material loading.

At the same time, LaserPecker's magnetic panels are a little tricky to adjust when switching the workpieces.

LP4 offers a slightly larger 160 x 120mm engraving area than the F1's 115 x 115mm.

Their laser specifications are nearly identical. Both feature a 10W 450nm diode and a 2W 1064nm IR laser.

Beam alignment is straightforward on both models. But F1 offers the autofocus ability, so you don't have to manually adjust it every time you start a new job.

Safety features are robust on both lasers, including emergency stop buttons and tilt protection.

Unlike LP4, xTool F1 comes fully assembled and is ready for the job right out of the box.

In terms of accessories, both offer a range of accessories for versatile engraving. But unlike xTool, LaserPecker (as of now) doesn't offer an air filter.

Air filters help manage the fumes. This is important when working in closed spaces like a room.

Interestingly, the LaserPecker mobile app has more features than the XCS app. This helps greatly if you plan to operate the machine with an Android or iOS device.

Also, they offer two years of warranty. Whereas xTool offers a one-year warranty for F1.

Final Thoughts

xTool F1 is a great investment for hobbyists and small businesses looking to generate some side income.

If you run a business selling small quantities of products, you can use F1 to customize your products by printing your logo or designs.

When outsourcing such jobs to bulk customization companies, you'll be forced to order in large quantities, which increases your expenditure.

Also, because of F1's high engraving speed, you can complete each job faster, and there is minimal setup time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I autofocus xTool F1 using LightBurn?

No, you cannot automatically focus the laser beam from xTool F1 through LightBurn software. For that, you'll have to use the xTool Creative Space software.

xTool F1 doesn't connect to my WiFi?

xTool F1 may not connect via WiFi if your network uses a frequency outside the standard 2.4 GHz. Also, if you are trying to connect for the first time, you must initially connect F1 with your computer via USB and configure your WiFi network information.

Should I buy xTool F1 or a standard diode laser?

If your projects primarily require engraving on a wide range of materials, xTool F1 would be a better choice. Since F1 has an infrared and diode laser, it can engrave on most materials, including metals. Also, its galvanometer allows for faster engraving speed. Unfortunately, because of its low power output, it's not the best at cutting jobs.

About John

Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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John

Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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