Wondering if air assist on an xTool M1 is worth it? So was I! So I made identical projects using the same project, material, and settings with and without air assist. Here are the results.
Air assist on an xTool M1…worth it? See my comparison!
If you have an xTool M1 machine and haven’t yet gotten an air assist attachment yet, you might be wondering…is it worth it? I was wondering what the difference would be, too. I wrote about my initial projects with the M1 machine in my xTool M1 Review post, so check that out.
I’ve also written about Cutting Acrylic With the xTool M1 and have shared 16 Free Houseplant Trellis SVG Files that I have had a lot of fun cutting on my M1 machine. But getting the air assist really took things to the next level.
I truly didn’t think the difference between intricate projects not using the air assist and using the air assist would be that different. But this post outlines all of the things that have impressed me using the air assist attachment.
Table of contents
- How I’m testing air assist on an xTool M1…
- Project #1: Low intricacy project—geometric plant hanger
- Project #2: Medium intricacy project—teapot box
- Project #3: High intricacy project—fairy dollhouse
- Using air assist on an xTool M1…what’s the verdict?
How I’m testing air assist on an xTool M1…
I wrote about how I was a little surprised by the amount of scorching on the butterfly trellis I cut out without air assist (see below). This was a very intricate design, so there was a decent amount of overlap while the laser was working.
I salvaged this piece to be a beautiful houseplant trellis by just painting it with some black spray paint. But would air assist have helped keep this project looking clean without painting it?
To test this, I cut three different projects for this post—each without and then with air assist. The first project is a pretty simple project that cut very well without air assist. The second is a project that showed some minor scorching but was otherwise fine on the M1 without air assist.
And the third was a project so intricate that I couldn’t even complete it on the xTool M1 without air assist. So you can imagine my shock when it cut beautifully with air assist! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s walk through all of the projects.
Project #1: Low intricacy project—geometric plant hanger
The first project I tested out was a geometric plant hanger. I cut this on 1/8″ baltic birch plywood using the xTool Creative Space default settings for 3mm pine plywood. This cut beautifully in one pass.
Without air assist
You can see some minor scorching below. This is not something that would concern me at all. If I’d stained this piece, it would hide any minor scorching completely.
Even as is, it is largely isolated to certain areas. And it wouldn’t take anything away from the design if I’d chosen to leave the piece unfinished.
With air assist
And here’s a comparison of two planters—the left planter was cut without air assist, and the right was cut with air assist. You can see the differences if you look closely around the outer edge of the planter in the bottom.
The circle at the top for a hanger also has zero scorching when using air assist. Overall, a beautiful job with and without! As a reminder, this is 1/8″ baltic birch plywood cut using the exact same settings with and without air assist.
Project #2: Medium intricacy project—teapot box
Next I wanted to try something with a bit more intricacy. I saw this adorable teapot box designed for dispensing teabags. Though I’m giving it to my daughter to put trinkets in—she’s a little crow and has never met a little trinket she doesn’t hoard.
Without air assist
Take a look at the below in the series of pics. I cut the pieces for this file on 1/8″ baltic birch plywood (xTool Creative Space 3mm pine plywood settings), and it led to some minor scorching.
I personally do not mind scorching around the edges of projects. But the teapot pieces show some pretty decent scorching on some of the smaller areas—like the skinny vertical piece on the windows.
Some of the finger joints showed some pretty decent scorching, too. Keep in mind that these are closeup shots that really magnify any scorching. In person, the teapot looked really lovely, and the scorching didn’t take anything away from the piece.
With air assist
When I cut the file on 1/8″ baltic birch using the exact same settings and air assist, it cut flawlessly! I was really blown away by the results. The cuts were so clean with almost no scorching present.
Even on the skinny vertical window pieces and around the smaller rectangle finger joints. Scroll down for a side-by-side comparison of the two teapot cuts with and without air assist.
Project #3: High intricacy project—fairy dollhouse
As a final test, I decided to work on an adorable fairy dollhouse that had a ton of smaller intricate cuts. It also had a good amount of scoring/engraving.
Without air assist
Have a look at the two pictures below. The scorching is pretty severe. I actually ended up stopping this cut because the scorching was so bad. I didn’t think it was a great idea to continue cutting and scorching the wood.
And when the wood scorches really badly, the smell totally lingers. Given the cut result with no air assist, I was super curious to see how the M1 would handle these cuts with the air assist attachment installed.
With air assist
And honestly…I was blown away! Using the same wood and the same settings in xTool Creative Space (the default settings for 3mm pine plywood), each piece cut flawlessly.
The engraving shows zero signs of scorching, and the intricate cuts were super clean. Have a look at the first batch of pieces I cut in the first few pictures below.
Then take a look at the assembled fairy house. I’m including some closeup shots of some of the more detailed areas so you can get more of an idea of just how well the M1 machine performed here.
Using air assist on an xTool M1…what’s the verdict?
I am a huge fan of the results I saw using air assist on an xTool M1. However, keep in mind that the machine performs very well cutting many projects and materials without air assist.
I’d recommend that you ask yourself what you’ll be working on and let the answer to that questions dictate whether or not you need air assist. If you’ll be cutting and engraving a lot of wood, I highly recommend factoring the cost of an air assist attachment into your overall price.
The great thing about xTool is that you don’t have to make the decision when you first buy your machine. You can do some projects and then purchase the air assist attachment after the fact if you find you need it.