So today, I received the main part of my new 3D printer set-up, the Sidewinder X1.
This isn’t the 3D printer I thought I was going to get, but I’ll get to that story soon. I’ve been wanting a 3D printer for several years now and watching the features increase and the price decrease until last year when I decided to do my 1 Million Calories Challenge, I included a small thing where I decided my reward for hitting my goal was going to be a 3D printer.
Sometimes, knowing that there was an opportunity to buy myself something cool was all that kept me tracking my calories, even when I absolutely felt like the project was stupid or a failure.
My intention, at the start of this year was to buy a Creality Ender 5 Pro. It had just recently been released as an update to the Ender 5 and it was getting pretty good reviews. I had done some research on 3D printers, and was pretty into the Creality Ender 3, but after watching some build guides, I was hoping for something a bit more my speed, something that was a bit more put together out of the box.
I also was worried about the stability of the frame, as it didn’t look very stable to me. That lead me to the Ender 5. The Ender 5 seemed like a great build platform and the price was decent too.
I looked around online and was only able to find an option to get it from GearBest in China, and so I ordered a unit. They told me that it would be two weeks until it shipped. I waited a month and the printer still hadn’t shipped. Their support people told me it would be another two or three weeks until it shipped, so I finally decided to ask for my money back.
I couldn’t find another retailer with an Ender 5 Pro, so I had to change my plans.
I was tempted to get an Ender 3 Pro, but I was still nervous about how much building and tinkering I’d have to do to get it up and running. It was hard to not gravitate towards that printer as so many people had tuned theirs to get the kind of results I was looking for, but how many hours had they spent getting it to work so well?
In the end, I checked out Amazon. I knew that it was likely if I ordered something from there, it would ship pretty quickly. Their prices weren’t too far off the ones I was seeing elsewhere, and their support for returns or defects had always been helpful to me in the past.
I looked at the printers they had available in my price-range and then started researching each one. Should I get the Ender 5, non-pro, and upgrade it? Should I get the Anycubic Mega-S, a printer I had wanted a long time ago? What about starting with a resin printer and getting the Elegoo Mars?
In the end, I decided to get the Artillery Sidewinder X1.
The printer is similar in design to the Ender 3, with just the two extruded metal side rails, but the Sidewinder X1 has a larger build volume, a nicer touch screen, a direct drive extruder, and a higher z-axis resolution.
Also, there are directions online for making a diagonal support brace using some metal rods and some 3D printed parts, so I can make the platform more stable.
As an aside, that’s one of the things I think is really neat about 3D printing: being able to customize the printer with 3D printed parts.
The Sidewinder X1, unlike the Ender 3, also comes mostly pre-assembled. All I would have to do is connect the base to the gantry and plug in some cables, and it should be good to go.
So into my cart it went, and after less than a week, it was here!
And just like I had hoped, it was easy to assemble. I will admit that when I do new things like this, I get pretty stressed. I was sweating as I tried carefully to set things up. I also spent a ton of time second guessing myself. Did I tighten the belts enough? Are the wheels properly tightened? Are the cables seated correctly?
Annie named it Wallace. I asked her why and she shrugged. So Wallace it is!
I did my first test print and it came out well. I had some issues getting the print off the print surface though as it isn’t removable… Maybe that’s an upgrade I’ll have to do at some point.
Overall, I’m excited. I know I have a ton to learn to actually make use of this new tool, but so far, the out of the box experience has been amazing.
Would I recommend others get a 3D printer? Not unless you want to tinker with it. It’s a hobby and like most hobbies, it can cost a fair bit of money, use up a bunch of time, and bring joy only if you are interested in the journey of learning.