xTool D1 Pro 40W review: This 40W diode laser is really powerful

At-home laser engravers are becoming more and more popular. From the ever-popular Glowforge to brands like xTool, using a laser engraver/cutter at home is now easier than ever. However, for the longest time, diode lasers (which are easier to use than CO2, by far, and we’ll break down why below) have lacked in power. Sure, they’re easy to use, but the limitations in speed, capability, and overall power always made CO2 more compelling if you were looking for something to start your business with. I mean, that’s why companies like Glowforge, OMTech, and Monport have taken off recently. But, xTool, a Makeblock company, wanted to change the game when it came to diode lasers. And change the game it did. We’ve spent the past few weeks with the most powerful diode laser…ever. xTool’s D1 Pro 40W laser system might not be easy on the wallet, but it’s easy to use and delivers absolutely stellar results on basically everything it’s compatible with. Have you been looking for a laser just like that? If so, head below the fold to read our full hands-on review of the xTool D1 Pro 40W laser where we help you determine if spending nearly $2,000 on a diode is really worth it… or if you should pursue other options.

Before we dive into how the laser itself functions, let’s take a little look at what comes in the box, how easy it is to assemble, and what accessories you can get for the xTool D1 Pro 40W laser. Leading the way actually isn’t the 40W laser itself, as right now in order to get a whole kit with the 40W module, you have to buy the D1 Pro 10W to start with. Then, should you get the 10W + 40W kit, the 40W module and X gantry will be in a separate box. However, if you already have any of the xTool D1 Pro kits, then you can buy just the 40W module with X gantry separately. Metal Coaster

xTool D1 Pro 40W review: This 40W diode laser is really powerful

The box is very well laid out, and you get everything needed to assemble the machine in the package, tools and all. The screws are color-coded by the Loctite that’s on the tips, either red or blue, to help you know what goes where. All of the components fit well together, and I was very impressed with the build quality overall. While I never used the 10W module in the kit, if you wanted ultra-precise engraving, that’s what it’s for, as the laser dot is smaller than the 40W module. That being said, the 40W module, in practice, never let me down with how precise it was. Another thing you’ll find in the package is a pair of safety glasses so that way you can keep your eyes safe while engraving. If you have the enclosure, then you likely won’t use these much, but they’re good to have on hand if you need to engrave without it for whatever reason.

Assembly will take between 30-60 minutes depending on if you have experience building lasers or not, but the instructions are very easy to follow and leave nothing to be desired. Once assembled, the 40W module will give you a working are of 16.93 by 13.7 inches (or 430 by 348mm) with the option to expand out to 35.79 by 16.93 inches (909 by 430mm) with an optional kit. Your max workpiece height is two inches, and then each set of risers adds another 45mm (nearly two inches) to the height. And, the best part is you could 3D print your own riser feet if you lose the original ones or just need extra height.

The xTool D1 Pro 40W module comes with native air assist support, though you’ll need to have your own pump (or purchase xTool’s official accessory, and we highly recommend having some form of air assist for your laser.) You’ll also find native wireless and wired support, meaning you can engrave with just a power cord to your laser… though wireless connectivity isn’t compatible with Lightburn yet. However, if you plug a USB cord in, then the xTool D1 Pro 40W works perfectly with Lightburn, which is exactly how we used it.

And, finally, the xTool D1 Pro 40W in this review can engrave at up to 300mm/s. Yes, millimeters per second. While you normally run diode lasers in millimeters per minute for the granularity, the 40W module can hold its own with CO2 lasers in many regards, so I ran it exclusively in millimeters per second and never found that lacking in the slightest.

xTool wants to make it as easy as possible for you to get into the laser engraving hobby or to start your small business. For this, they have an absolute host of accessories to get you started and outfit your setup. Starting off is the accessory that I think everyone should get with their laser – air assist. Whether you’re cutting or engraving, air assist will help keep flare ups (actual flames) at bay, though the xTool D1 Pro we’re reviewing does have flame detection to automatically shut it down if the fire gets too big. Another must-have, I believe, is an enclosure. You might go the route of building your own (I have in the past), but xTool’s enclosure is nice, easy to use, and works great. The enclosure is good for helping to keep fumes in one contained area and gives you a port to suck them out and expel them. I run my fume extraction through the ceiling and out the side of my house, but xTool also has an optional air purifier that you can pick up, too.

The air purifier doesn’t remove 100% of the smoke and odor, but it does a fantastic job if your option is that or nothing. There’s an output on the purifier that you can still pipe outside, too, if you want to push cleaner air into the world instead of pure fumes from laser engraving. And yes, there’s a lot of fumes with laser engraving.

Finally, for the main accessories, you have the RA2 rotary, or, the “Rotary Accessory 2.” The RA2 has a lot of functionality, and is honestly one of the best rotaries on the market. Primarily, I’ll use it in the “chuck” mode which looks like a laith chuck, but there are also options for normal rollers as well as some bars which can be used for engraving rings, ornaments, and other similar items. The RA2 made engraving tumblers so much easier than the old roller rotary that I had, and is well worth the investment if you’re going to be lasering cylindrical objects.

And, lastly, there’s the honeycomb. If you’re only going to be engraving, exclusively, then you don’t need a honeycomb. It’s a metal mesh-style area that allows you to cut cleaner than when sitting on a solid surface. The honeycomb bed gives both the laser beam itself and the fumes a place to go when cutting, making it something that we highly recommend if you plan to cut through material with your laser.

The short answer is – yes, absolutely. It’s a fantastic laser, and honestly one of the best that I’ve used so far. However, that does come at a price, and for what the xTool D1 Pro 40W costs… you could nearly buy a larger and more powerful CO2 system, which will also be more capable all around.

But, we’ll get into that a little later on in the review when talking about the difference between diode and CO2 lasers. In this part of the review, we’re going to focus on how the xTool D1 Pro 40W actually works. With any compatible material I tried, the laser absolutely excelled. From plywood to walnut, leatherette, coated metal, slate, and even acrylic, it absolutely handled everything I threw at it with ease and grace.

Let’s start out with the performance on wood. Coming from a 10W diode and 40W CO2 laser, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The xTool D1 Pro 40W blew away all expectations, though. It cuts through 5mm plywood (1/4 inch) in a single pass at 10mm/s, which is faster than my 40W CO2 can do the same task. It also engraves with pin-point precision at up to 250mm/s, which, again, is faster than my CO2 laser.

The xTool D1 Pro 40W would be a perfect choice if you’re looking to do wooden projects, whether that’s Christmas ornaments around the holidays, engraved cutting/charcuterie boards, or anything else. I was able to crank the speed up without pushing the power too far for everything I tried, and it all just came out great overall.

Now, onto leatherette. While you have to be careful of what leatherette you use (xTool has good stuff to use, or just look for anything PVC-free and laser-safe), the xTool D1 Pro 40W handled it with grace as well. It was able to both engrave and cut at fantastic speeds with extreme precision, doing everything from making hat patches to creating labels that I can put on drawers in the office to help me try to stay more organized. This would make the xTool D1 Pro 40W in our review a great choice for those wanting to get into leathermaking, as it can handle both cutting and engraving a wide range of thickness of leather. So, you could use the laser to cut out a template (or just cut out the final piece), put the holes in it for your thread, and even brand it all at one time. And, if you get 2-tone leatherette, it looks fantastic as well.

What about metal? Well, with 40W of power, this laser can handle metal with ease, too. We made several unique business cards by taking coated metal and lasering off the coating. This can be a great way to step up your business game as you could hand someone a nice, hefty metal business card that you made yourself instead of a flimsy paper one. We were also able to engrave on tumblers at speeds and power settings I wasn’t expecting. It handled coated tumblers, ranging from Ozark Trail to Rtic and more, without breaking a sweat. Once the tumbler was engraved, I simply took some dish soap and scrubbed the area clean to get any leftover residue off and the engravings shined. This was done in conjunction with the RA2 rotary, and setup there was quite simple. Just remember to set the diameter/circumference of your object if using the chuck because that’s crucial for it to know how much to turn the item.

Acrylic was also pretty easy to work with, and the black acrylic blew me away. Using some of the 3mm cast acrylic that xTool sells in its material kit, I was able to quickly and easily make a cute and unique keychain. It took under five minutes to both engrave and cut out and it’s something that you could easily make for family members or even sell as part of your small business. Just keep in mind that diode lasers can’t engrave or cut on clear or white acrylic, as that’s something better left to CO2 models.

The last material that we’re going to go over here in this part of the review is slate. Slate is great for coasters, trivets, and more. We were able to engrave coasters faster than on any of our other lasers, and the results speak for themselves. Whether you’re wanting custom coasters for yourself, to use in a business, or to make for presents, the xTool D1 Pro 40W really shines here.

All that to say, it’s great. Literally every material we put through the xTool D1 Pro 40W came out engraved perfectly at the end of the day. Cutting was a breeze with leather and wood, and the metal engravings came out absolutely perfect with a little scrubbing at the end (which you’ll have to do with any laser.) I have been extremely impressed with the performance of the xTool D1 Pro 40W.

Absolutely, no question. With how many materials the xTool D1 Pro 40W works on, and how fast it runs, you’d have no problem building a small business using just this laser. It can engrave, cut, and do just about anything you ask it to. There were multiple days where I had this laser running for hours on end in the evenings putting products in and out of it using templates, and thanks to the homing switches it has, it was able to do repeat projects every single time. I use a set of jigs that I got on Etsy with the laser so I can do repeat jobs easily, and the xTool D1 Pro 40W does it fantastically. Recently, I needed to make several medals for an event at church, and I was able to batch them out on the xTool D1 Pro 40W easily with the jig kit. I just cut out the jig, inserted the metals, and then hit go. When the laser finished a batch, it returned to the rear so I could pull the completed metals out and put new ones in. Then, I just clicked start and it went right back to work.

With 40W of power, you’re able to do things much faster than with a normal 10W or 20W diode laser. Sure, it might not be as powerful or fast as, say, a 100W Thunder Laser, but it’s also a fraction of the price of a Thunder at that power. If you’re just getting started with a small business and want a laser that’s easy to use, capable, and can get you up and going the same day it arrives, then the xTool D1 Pro 40W is a solid option all around.

CO2 lasers are the king in the business world for many reasons. While there are others like fiber, UV, and more, CO2 is generally the go-to for those running laser businesses. So, where do diode lasers come in? Well, until the xTool D1 Pro 40W, they really didn’t. Diode lasers are known for being slower and not as capable as their CO2 counterparts, but xTool really has something special here.

I have the most budget-friendly CO2 laser in my shop right now, a K40. With 40W of power, and a small working area of 8 by 12 inches, the K40 is pretty limited in its capabilities as far as CO2 lasers go. But, it’s still much more powerful than most diode lasers. Until the xTool D1 Pro 40W. But, comparing the K40 and xTool D1 Pro 40W directly isn’t quite fair. The xTool has a working area nearly twice the size as the K40, and the xTool can also be moved around the shop so you can place it on something larger than the laser itself and still be able to engrave; the K40 doesn’t support that. CO2 lasers also require much more maintenance.

While a diode laser has a fan and lens that you have to keep up with, and that’s about it, a CO2 laser has a lens, mirrors, a glass tube, and a chiller that all have to be maintained. Keeping a CO2 laser functional is much more time consuming than a diode laser, and there’s no way around that. And, I think that’s where the xTool D1 Pro 40W has a leg up. It’s just as (if not more, somehow) powerful as the 40W CO2 laser I have, with none of the maintenance requirements. I was down with my CO2 laser for a few months while I worked with the company to figure out why it suddenly lost power, and we finally determined it was the tube. That was a lengthy process of troubleshooting and repair, which required multiple hours of aligning the mirrors. A diode laser requires none of that, as if the module dies, you just replace it by plugging a new one in. And, if the lens cracks, that’s a 30 second fix of unscrewing the cap, inserting a new lens, and screwing the cap back on; nothing needs to be realigned.

So, even though the xTool D1 Pro 40W costs four times what a K40 costs, and is only a few hundred shy of some 50W CO2 laser systems, if you’re not ready for the maintenance of a CO2, then xTool has you covered. The xTool D1 Pro 40W is very capable of supporting a small business, is extremely easy to use, and doesn’t require near the maintenance or knowledge to run as a CO2 laser does. So, while more expensive overall, it’s worth the price in my opinion if you’re looking for something that fits the aforementioned requirements.

We’ve not touched on the price of the xTool D1 Pro 40W yet, so let’s talk about that for a second. To buy the base kit which includes the xTool D1 Pro kit with 10W and 40W modules, you’re looking at a MSRP of $2,250, though it’s typically on sale closer to the $1,800 or so range. Add to that the RA2 Pro, risers, air assist, and honeycomb, and you’re looking at a MSRP of over $2,700 and a current sale price of just over $2,000. xTool does offer 0% financing through Affirm for up to 18 months, so that could help make the decision a bit easier for you as well.

But, at nearly (or over) $2,000, the xTool D1 Pro 40W in this review isn’t budget-friendly by any stretch of the imagination. However, it’s extremely capable. You could go out and buy a 10W diode laser and still engrave on most of what we talked about here today, but you’ll be doing it at 1/4 the speed. What takes the xTool D1 Pro 40W four minutes will take you 16, and what takes it 15 minutes will take you an hour, should you go with a 10W system. Of course, you could also spend a few hundred more to get a 50W CO2 laser from someone like Monport or OMTech, but then you have to deal with chillers, mirror alignment, and all the other maintenance that we’ve talked about. And, really, you’ve only gained a little bit of speed and the ability to work with clear acrylic. Of course, if clear acrylic is a must for you, then the xTool D1 Pro 40W won’t work and you need to look at something else (maybe the xTool P2?) But, otherwise, the xTool D1 Pro 40W still wins in our book for capability, ease of use, and functionality.

In the end, this is a nearly $2,000 purchase, so you shouldn’t go into it without ample research. While we didn’t cover many specifics speeds and power ratings here today, we hope that this review has helped you to learn more about what the xTool D1 Pro 40W is capable of. And, we only didn’t cover those settings because even with the same machine, they’ll be different for everybody, so you really should get your own settings dialed in through trial and error just like we do to make sure that your machine is working optimally.

At the end of the day, do we recommend the xTool D1 Pro 40W? Yes, we do. I’ll be honest, going into this review I was quite a bit skeptical of what it could handle. It’s a $2,000 diode laser, after all. Could it really outperform my 40W CO2? CO2 is the “best” laser, after all. Well, my opinion on that has changed through the course of this review. Yes, xTool sent this laser out for us to review at no cost, but they don’t get to read this review or have any input into the words or feelings we have toward the laser at all.

What started out as me trying to figure out whether or not the xTool D1 Pro 40W was any good has ended with me singing its praises, and that’s not an outcome I expected to happen. I fully expected to go into this review saying something like “It’s great, but buy a CO2 laser instead.” But, after spending a few weeks with the xTool D1 Pro 40W during this review, and finding out just how reliable it is, how precise it is, and how easy to use it is… I can’t not recommend it. If you don’t have the funds, or just want to play around with lasers to get started with, there are many 10W systems that will do just fine for most people. But, if you want to take your laser engraving to the next level or get a business off the ground, the xTool D1 Pro 40W is honestly my main recommendation at this point.

If you need a CO2 system, though, xTool has you covered with its all-new P2 laser. It’s a fraction of the cost of most of its competitors, more capable, and just as easy to use. xTool really has the ease of use thing down with its machine, and is becoming the Apple of the laser world, in my opinion. Regardless of which model you pick up from the company, I really feel you won’t be let down, and it’ll help you to get either a hobby or business off the ground with little learning time on the laser side of things.

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xTool D1 Pro 40W review: This 40W diode laser is really powerful

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