Inov3D would like to thank Gearbest for sending us their Tronxy X3S for review. We always try our best to give a fair review with the Good and the Bad Points. With any review, we will contact the company if we find any problems to try and get those issues resolved before we finish the review. We would also like to thank david ashenbrener, brent pell and yourdy alcaide for taking the time to help us out with the tronxy X3S.
What are the stats of the Tronxy X3S you ask?
- Frame material: Aluminum
- Nozzle quantity: Single
- Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
- Build Volume: 330 x 330 x 420mm
- Layer thickness: 0.1-0.4mm
- Memory card offline print: SD card
- LCD Screen: Yes
- Print speed: 20 – 150 mm/s
- Supporting material: HIPS,PC,PLA,PVC,Wood
- Material diameter: 1.75mm
- Language: Chinese,English
- XY-axis positioning accuracy: 0.012mm
- Z-axis positioning accuracy: 0.004mm
- Voltage: 110V/220V
- Packing Type: semi-assembled packing
- System support: Windows XP and up, Mac
- Certificate: CE, FCC, RoHs
- Product weight: 12.5000 kg
- Product size: 52.00 x 52.00 x 60.60 cm / 20.47 x 20.47 x 23.86 inches
if you are interested in purchasing the Tronxy 3D printer X3S click here
Now let’s get down to business
The Tronxy X3S came well packaged, just like most of the printers we have reviewed. All parts were secured in their own compartments and included a colorful manual.
There is not much to the manual because the printer does not take long at all to build, as it comes, mostly, assembled. The manual does explain everything well. We love the colour scheme of black and red. It kind of makes it look like a Creality CR-10. So far we are really impressed with the Tronxy X3S.
It comes with a layer cooling fan (This is good because most Chinese 3D printers that we have seen do not), dual Y axis bed support with adjustment bed knobs, dual Z motors and lead screws, and an outstanding print area of 330mm(y) x 330mm(x) x 420mm(z).
The electronics enclosure is extremely nice. Everything on the control board and LCD panel comes pre-wired. Everything comes with plugs and mesh wire guard on the biggest majority of the wiring. This makes for a pretty clean looking setup when you’re done.
The time it took us to build the Tronxy X3S from start to finish was around 1 hour. This was making sure everything was tight and putting all the main parts together and wiring everything up. There were no problems at all with any of the parts when putting everything together.
The Tronxy X3S comes with a CR-10 style hotend. This hotend is bolted directly to the X carriage, which makes it very stable. If you decide to replace the hotend with a E3D v.6 or any other style hotend you will have to redesign the entire X carriage.
The heated bed that comes with the Tronxy X3S is an impressive 330mm x 330mm. It is an aluminum bed with PCB traces on the bottom side like most common heated beds that come with other 3D printers. The print bed does take a long time to heat up.
It struggles to get past 40°C. This won’t matter if you are just printing PETG and PLA, but ABS on the other hand, you might struggle with. It also comes with a poly-carbonate sheet and a BuildTak like build surface. We decided to print directly on to the poly-carbonate sheet and we haven’t gone back. The prints stick well, even at a good distance away from the poly-carbonate sheet. You can remove it and flex the poly-carbonate sheet to help release the model.
Yes, this printer comes with a spool holder. It is only good for spools that have a large center hole (45mm or larger). We have fixed this by cutting off the part that limits the spool from sliding on and making a friction fit cap to hold the spool on. However, if you have spools with a smaller hole than 45mm, you will still need to figure out some other way to hold those spools.
The Melzi controller included with this printer kit is a CXY-v.2-0508. A modified version of a Melzi 2.0 which is a clone, of sorts, of a Sanguilolu 3D Printer controller. The CXY-v2 board is powered by the ATMEGA1284P micro controller and includes 4 stepper drivers. The CXY-v.2-0508 will only support one extruder. Stepper drivers included on the chip are either A4982 or A4988. I’m not sure, as the heat-sinks are glued in place with thermal compound. I did not want to chance breaking something to take them off.
Some things we were not impressed with
- Our X3S came with no UK Mains Plug. Instead, it came with a US plug. This is a bit of a downside if you live outside the US because we had to go out and purchase a kettle lead/PC cable or a travel adapter, but we understand that most of the international companies supply US Plugs, so this makes it understandable. Just be warned, if you are outside the US, you will likely receive a US plug.
- The dial knob for the LCD panel was a bit stiff to turn when it got to a certain point. This was because the dial knob was not properly lined up with the hole on the control box. However, if you happen to run into this issue, it is a easy fix. Pull the dial knob off and take off some of the metal around the hole. This should fix the problem. Or, alternatively, you could make your own knob, but slightly smaller, and put it in place of the old dial knob.
- The CXY-v.2-0508 controller that comes stock on the X3S is a Melzi clone, includes only four stepper drivers, and will only support one extruder. While not a major issue, this can be a bit limiting if you are looking to add support for multiple colors/materials.
- The Tronxy X3S comes with a 12v 20amp power supply. With the large print bed that this printer has, upgrading to a 12v 30amp power supply would help tremendously.
- The firmware was a bit flaky at times. When homing from the LCD panel, sometimes the printer would home only the X and Y axes. I had to home the device two or three times to get everything to home correctly. Could not get the printer to work with Cura. I could connect and manually control the printer from the Pronterface inside Cura 15.04.6, but when i would send a print, the printer would error out and nothing would happen. Cura 3.2.1 (the latest version) would not work at all. More on solving this later.
- When we did our first print, the machine homes all three axes, then begins to print. Just before it starts to print, the Z axis lifts a few millimeters, which is not good. The X3S seems to have a offset on the Z axis and we can’t find anywhere on the LCD screen to change this offset. Again, more on solving this later.
Overall, this printer is a pretty solid printer. However, there are a few upgrades that could make it even better. Below is a list.
- Replace the 12v 20amp power supply with a larger 12v 30amp supply. This should help with the heatbed heating slowly.
- Upgrade to a silicon heat pad on the bed. This will also help the bed heat a bit faster as it adds some insulation to the bed, plus heats more evenly.
- Add a mosfet to control the heatbed and hotend. This will take a lot of the strain off the controller board and reduce the chance of burning out your controller and reduce the risk of fire hazard. This is a fairly cheap upgrade and is well worth it. Biqu Mosfet.
There are several versions of the MKS boards. Both are ATMEGA2560 boards (the same as Arduino Mega/RAMPS). One important thing to note is that the MKS Base boards have the stepper drivers integrated on the board. The MKS Gen boards do not. You can chose the stepper drivers to run your machine.
Upgrading to the MKS Base boards will offer you no real benefit over the stock Melzi board included with the kit. As the only real difference would be that the MKS Base boards include a ATMEGA2560 over the ATMEGA1284P and one additional stepper for second extruder. The steppers integrated on the MKS Base are A4988 steppers. The same as on the stock Melzi controller.
If you are looking to upgrade your controller to allow for another extruder, I would recommend, at the least, to replace the stock controller with an MKS Gen board. With the MKS Gen, you can chose between A4988, DRV8825, or any of the TMC21xx series silent steppers.
Both of these options should work as a drop-in replacement for the stock Melzi board. Take in mind, these boards will not be a drop-in replacement as far as mounting them into the stock enclosure. You will have to make some modifications to mount these boards.
The major problem we had was with the Z offset. What is a Z offset? Once the printer starts printing, it will start – + above the print bed. In this case it was 0.18 mm above the bed. The way we fixed this problem was by homing the printer, level your bed at all four corners with a feeler gauge, then go into your control panel and save offset. If this does not work, try the methods below.
- In Simplify3D you can set an offset on your starting gcode by going to process / scripts / starting script. After the homing procedure (G28), enter G1 Z-0.2 F400 (-0.2 is the offset you want to add – or + the offset you need to add may be different). To check the offset, home the Tronxy X3S and just before it starts printing, look at your controller. There should be a offset in Z.
- In Simplify3D, go to process / g-code / global G-Code Offsets / Z-Axis. Change this to your offset.
- Plug the USB cable for your Tronxy X3S into your PC. Open the control panel (The icon that is second up from the bottom on the right. It looks like a gear). Enter your port (COM3, COM4, etc.) and baud rate (115200). Make sure to check verbose. With Caps Lock on, type M851 Z0 (zero not O). Hit enter. This will zero your Z offset. To make your own Z offset, type M851 (space) Z (then whatever you want for your offset). Then save it by entering M500.
- If none of these methods work for you, move on to the next section.
Flaky firmware can be annoying. We know. So we have compiled instructions on how to flash a clean version of the Marlin firmware (Specifically configured for the Tronxy X3S) onto your machine. Flashing Marlin on the X3S
Spool Holder Fix
As we mentioned above the spool holder is limiting. We have provided some fixes to get you up and going. All you do is remove the part that stops the spools going onto the shaft, Print this add-on, put your spool on, and plug the add-on onto the shaft. This spool holder is built to have a friction fit. Depending on the accuracy of your 3D printer, you might need to scale the model up or down. There are small slits in our spool holder add-on to help put this on. When you insert it onto the shaft the slits close up a small amount allowing it to go on.
Once you get this printer working it can print amazing prints, the model we chose was a tree stump house. This is a great model to show of the wood filament as you know its a tree and they are wood. There wasn’t hardly any post processing, all we had to do was take off some stringing and some sanding, everything printed perfectly.
For this printer we chose to use K Camel’s beige wood filament. This filament worked great on the Tronxy X3S it was easy to sand, you can hardly see the layer lines and the amazing thing about this filament is that it smells just like WOOD!. K Camel’s filament comes in different colours yellow, grey, brown and beige. We can not state that all these colours are wood as we haven’t tried them yet.
|Parameters||Colours||Where to BUY|
|K Camel Filament|
Finishing The Model
For finishing of this model we did not need to use primer as we wanted the wood effect, instead we used wood varnish. This was to stain the filament to try a new technique that worked very well. All you have to do to get this effect is by brushing it on and wiping it off don’t leave it on to long or it will dry in, it is a very runny paint, this helps to get into the lower areas leaving them darker. To give it a little bit more detail we made some stones with plaster of Paris, added a path with logs on each side that were printed with a 3D pen. The technique we used for the base was static grass, if you are unsure what this is have a look at our static grass application video.
For the stones and the steps we used ledbelcher base, nuln oil shade, then followed by necron compound dry. The path was basically the same but the only thing that was different was we used stirland mud texture to start with, as you can see it leaves a texture that you can put any colour onto. Now to fully finish the model we painted the door red with some gold touches on the door knob and hinges, maybe sounds plain but it does make the model stand out. Are you are wondering what type of paints we used for some parts of the model as you are thinking “ooo these paints sound good” well these are called citadel paints, they come in all sorts of formulations which can give you different effects and techniques.
The Tronxy X3S is a solid build. The Aluminum frame makes this printer a solid, sturdy machine. This machine is a clone of the Creality CR-10 with a cheaper price point. If you’ve been looking to get a CR-10, but are having a hard time spending the money, the Tronxy X3S would be a solid alternative. In the end, if you’re looking for a low cost, large format, Cartesian style 3D printer that is fast, accurate, and quiet,the Tronxy X3S may be the printer for you if you are a tinkerer.