In this Voxelab Aquila X2 3D printer review, we look at the specs, features, and quality of print you should expect from the unit.
Creality successfully established itself in the market of budget 3D printers by releasing the Ender-3 printer and its subsequent modifications in 2018. The success of the digging inspired competitors to use similar solutions in their designs, with an emphasis on reducing the cost of the product.
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Voxelab Aquila X2 3D Printer Review
The Voxelab Aquila X2 comes semi-disassembled with relatively few parts. Inside the box, you will find:
- A set of fasteners in signed bags
- A set of tools
- A needle for cleaning the nozzle
- An SD card with a card reader
Inside the box, each aluminum stand is wrapped in cellophane film.
The printer also comes with a few meters of red PLA, which is in line with its low price point. The spatula is neatly packed in a zip bag.
The upper crossbar has a handle, for easy transportation of the assembled printer, as well as side caps.
The printer also has an additional nozzle, which can be used as a spare part.
When assembled, the Aquila X2 measures 473 x 480 x 473mm and weighs 8.2 kg.
The printer electronics are located at the base. They comprise of a 24V/350W power supply, and a 32-bit Aquila Main Board v1.0.1 control board with the quiet analogue TMC2208 driver.
A 4.3-inch color display with encoder is attached to the base of the printer separately.
The printer interface is simple both in design and in functionality. The main screen contains menus for print, control, settings and information.
Several functions are available in the Settings menu. These include setting temperature and preset temperature profiles for ABS and PLA, setting motion (maximum speed and acceleration), and setting angles for each axis and setting steps. The menu displays the operation of the filament sensor.
You can also change the language on the menu. However, there are only two languages available in the base firmware, i.e., English and Chinese.
The “Control” menu contains all the main functions, such as movement along the axes, turning off the motors, sending to the “home point”, selecting preset profiles, loading and unloading filament, cooling, among others.
The “Print” menu appears after selecting the file on the SD card,
Aquila X2 uses Prusa kinematics, where a movable table is responsible for movement along the Y axis. It’s construction area is 220 x 220 x 250 mm.
The printbed is made of glass in form of a separate plate, which is attached to the heating element of the table on two aluminum brackets. The maximum table heating temperature is 110°C. This means that the printer can work with refractory PETG and ABS materials.
The printer is equipped with the standard hot end used in both the CR10 and the Ender-3. This hotend has a maximum heating temperature of 250°C.
The plastic casing of the hot end has two coolers: for blowing the heatsink and for the model.
The printer has the MK8 X-axis feeder, which is also found in the Ender-3 series. There is also one brass feed gear and counter roller.
Additional parts for the Aquila X2 have been added to the SD card. One of them is a wheel for the gear of the feeder. However, there is no point in printing it because the mechanism works fine in its original form. There are no problems with the feed of the bar.
Preparing for the First Print
There is no calibration menu in Aquila X2. Therefore, to calibrate, you need to set four points in the corners of the table using the “movement” tab. From there, set the gap with the adjusting wheel at which a sheet of paper will pass with a small force between the nozzle and the table surface.
Voxelab has its own VoxelMaker slicer, which comes with Aquila X2 on the SD card. However, the 3D printer is also compatible with Cura.
To work in Cura, you need to create an Aquila X2 profile according to the instructions on the SD card.
The paper clips included with the printer seemed unreliable. For example, with a slight pressure on one of the sides, the glass plate moves. This can lead to displacement of the layers during printing. We decided to strengthen the fastening with clerical clips.
Printing Calibration Models
For the first print, we chose a standard XYZ cube calibration model. We printed the model using Esun PLA + plastic. The settings were 215/60°C temperature and print speed of 60 mm/s.
Here is how the prints turned out:
The model printed without problems. There are no displacements of layers and material smudges. The geometry is even.
The next print was a test model that comes with the Aquila X2 on the SD card. This is a more difficult test with several geometric shapes.
Here is how things turned out:
The model also printed well. The geometry is correct, there are no gaps, there are no sagging under the arch. The only difficulty arose at the point of merging of the two ends of the arch. The issue was that at high speed, the nozzle ran into the material. This caused a barely noticeable displaced layer. However, we can solve this problem by installing a retraction along the Z axis in the slicer.
After the calibration models, we decided to use the same material to print a cable channel for switching the extruder, since during printing, the extruder cable touched the heating table cable.
Here are the results:
Due to the large number of supports, there are noticeable traces on the links of the cable channel. However, the model copes with its function.
We chose an assembled gear mechanism model for printing on PETG. We used Overture PETG. The temperature was 235/80°C, while the printing speed was 80 mm/s.
Here are the results:
The model printed evenly. The layers are even and there are no overextrusion drops on the walls. The model mechanism works; all gears rotate without hesitation.
The only noticeable disadvantage of printing is a lot of threads and seam marks on the models. This is a common problem for PETG printing, but especially on long retraction extruders. The only solution to this problem is by installing a direct extruder.
Printing with a TPU extruder like this is difficult, but possible. To print, we chose the speed at which soft material will not stick in the feed mechanism. We tried to print membranes for the Pop it anti-stress toy.
For the material, we used green Esun eTPU-95A. The print settings were 230/70°C for the temperature and a speed 30 mm s.
The body was printed from Esun PLA +, which we’d used earlier for the calibration models.
And here Aquila X2 surprised us again. It coped well with printing the eTPU-95A the first time. The feeder did not jam the bar, there were no tears or displacement of the layers, and even there were relatively few threads by the standards of printing on TPU.
As for the Pop it itself, the eTPU-95A membranes are stiff. But with a little effort, the Pop it can be used.
Finally, we put a stress test for 22 hours. We printed complicated vase – the protruding ribs on the surface of the vase create a large amount of retraction. For this test, we used clear Esun PLA. The print settings were 215/60°C, for the temperature and speed of 60 mm/s.
The Aquila X2 coped with the vase well. There were no problems. All geometry was printed.
However, there were a lot of filaments in the printing process, which is not typical for PLA. But as it turned out, translucent PLA has components that affect the appearance of filaments, almost like PETG. The noticeable traces of the “spider web” on the vase were a little upsetting, but this was because we chose the wrong material. All models printed from the orange PLA + that came with the Aquila X2 printed without ‘spider webs” at the same settings.
Overall, the Aquila X2 has proven itself worthy.
The Voxelab Aquila X2 looks a lot like the Ender-3 V2. Its components are made at the same level: belt adjusters, V-shaped roller profiles, heating table, display with encoder, and so on. The hotend and feeder are also the same.
However, the printer has some disadvantages. These include the weak brackets on the heating table, and the inconvenient location for switching the hot end. However, all these shortcomings can be easily corrected. Moreover, considering the low cost of Aquila X2, these drawbacks can be easily overlooked.
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