TronXY X3S (In-Depth Review)
The TronXY X3S is the most affordable large capacity DIY 3D printer from TronXY and costs just $300 shipped. With a print volume of 330 x 330 x 400mm, it competes against the likes of the highly popular Creality CR-10 which costs significantly more at about $440.
In fact, the X3S uses a very similar gantry design to the CR-10 and features the similar v-slot aluminum extrusions for its all-metal frame and pulley bearings for all 3 axes. It is shipped as a DIY kit with a few pre-assembled parts. Building it took me approximately 11 hours.
- Build size: 330 x 330 x 400mm
- Technology: FDM
- Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.4mm
- Extruder: MK10 extruder / MK8 hot end
- Extruder drive: Bowden
- Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
- Frame: v-slot aluminum extrusions with pulley bearings
- Z axis drive: dual 8mm lead rods / dual stepper motors
- Power supply: 12V 240W (20A)
- Filament diameter: 1.75mm
- Print speed: 20 – 150mm/s
- LCD screen: 2004A
- Printer dimensions: 52.00 x 49.00 x 49.80cm
- Gross weight: 10kg
- External memory: TF card
- File format: GCode
Those who have been following news of TronXY 3D printers will remember the X3 which is essentially a smaller version of the X3S. The X3 was released earlier this year and although it had a lot of potential, it was plagued with a critical flaw in the design of its print bed carriage which sat on a single aluminum extrusion.
Even after assembling the bed properly, the bed would wobble significantly making the X3 incapable of printing anything properly right after assembly. Although the TronXY user community came up with a solution to this problem, X3 owners who did not have access to a second printer or any kind of printing service were left with a printer that couldn’t produce the upgrade needed to correct the problem.
Realizing this critical flaw, TronXY released an improved version of the X3 and called it the X3S which is the subject of this review. The X3S has two extrusions to support its print bed which completely solves the wobbling problem. The bed itself is significantly larger than the X3’s which measures 220 x 220mm. Apart from the larger print bed and dual extrusions for the y-axis and a few other minor differences, the X3S is actually very similar to the X3. The X3 is still available at a much lower price point and with an included L bracket to support its y-axis extrusion to prevent it from wobbling.
The X3S is one of those printers that feature a console box that is not mounted on the printer itself and sits on its own. Although this looks neat in product photos, both the printer and the console box actually take up quite a lot of space on a desk.
To deal with this problem, some X3 owners have designed mountings to allow the console box to be installed at the bottom of the printer itself although I’m not sure if these mounts can be used for the X3S considering that it has a larger frame. I also find messy wiring to be an issue with the X3S and coming up with clean wiring is probably a challenge that any owner will face at some point of owning it.
The console box houses an LCD screen with control knob, 240W power supply and the main board. It also has enough room for a small MOSFET. Speaking of MOSFETs, the X3S doesn’t come with one pre-installed despite having such a large print bed. This is one upgrade that is compulsory if you want to prevent your X3S from being a fire hazard and also to prolong the life of the mainboard.
Overall, the X3S feels quite sturdy and functional when assembled properly. I like the fact that its v-slot extrusions and pulley bearings allow for a rather simple design without much clutter (except for the wiring). There are some quality control issues that I encountered with the X3S though and this includes some missing t-nuts, bent flexible coupling shafts, a hot end cooling fan that tends to rub against its metal housing, causing a loud buzz sometimes and a few other issues.
This is normal for a Chinese DIY kit with such a large print volume that costs just $300. When buying these kits, it’s best to just lower your expectations and be prepared to troubleshoot problems from time to time.
This is one area in which I had some mixed results with the X3S. In its original form, it is capable of very good print quality if you know how to work around its flaws. My first few test prints with the X3S did not turn out to be very good because the flexible coupling shafts were bent, causing both z-axis lead rods to wobble. Despite installing the shafts correctly (by inserting both lead rod and motor spindle only 5mm into the shaft), the shafts would still remain bent, causing the lead rods to spin out of alignment and causing a lot of resistance in the z-axis movement. This caused plenty of layer shifts on prints, especially tall ones. To solve this problem, I replaced the bent shafts with a pair of rigid aluminum shafts.
With the shafts replaced, the X3S was able to print very well although it can certainly be improved. Below are some sample prints I did using white PLA at 100 microns. The yellow pieces are ABS printed in 200 microns. Although not perfect, these are decent prints considering that no layer/filament cooling fan was used and no upgrades installed on the printer.
One critical flaw on the X3S is its power supply unit which has a capacity of just 240W (20A). Such a PSU may be sufficient to heat up a smaller 220 x 220mm print bed to 100C but for the X3S’s larger print bed, it struggles. In fact, the print bed on my X3S cannot be heated beyond 73C due to the inadequate power and trying to heat the bed up to 70C takes well over 35 minutes which is ridiculously long. If you plan to print materials such as ABS, at least consider upgrading to a bigger 360W PSU.
Speaking of print beds, the bed on the X3S actually measures 330 x 330mm so I find it strange that product pages mention the print volume to be just 300 x 300mm.
In its original form sans upgrades, the TronXY X3S is capable of producing reasonably good prints. That is, if you’re lucky to receive a kit that is free from any sort of defect such as bent coupling shafts. Priced at just $300, it is one of the most affordable large capacity 3D printers currently on the market.
Like any other cheap DIY kit, the X3S has its pros and cons. While it is capable of some nice prints, the supplied 240W PSU is simply too puny for the large print bed so printing ABS is very difficult. The bed on my X3S can heat up to between 50C and 60C but it struggles beyond 70C. In fact, it simply refuses to go beyond the mid 70’s, even after 1 hour of heating.
Other flaws include messy wiring and a very large foot print. This is due to the console box which is not attached to the printer and sits separately on its own.
The X3S is one of those 3D printers that begs to be upgraded. With some upgrades and fine tuning, I’m sure it is capable of printing even better which makes it a very attractive option to those who are looking for an affordable large volume printer.
The TronXY X3S can be purchased at GearBest for $300 shipped. Click here for more details.
Note: The glass bed and rigid aluminum coupling shafts shown in the photos above are upgrades and do not come with the standard TronXY X3S kit.
Features and Performance8/10
Community and Support9/10
- Very affordable
- Full metal frame
- Plenty of room for upgrades
- Bowden extruder
- Large print volume
- Inadequate 240W power supply
- Poor quality control in certain areas
- Large foot print
- No MOSFET for heated bed
- Messy wiring