Let me start with just a few thoughts about why and how I chose to add this maker tool to my mobile makerspace.
First of all I really like my GlowForge C02 laser which I adopted while traveling through the southwestern deserts in 2018. It still works for me and it has been moved around (A LOT). It will continue to be my go-to laser cutter, but I felt like I needed a more mobile fabrication tool for on location use such as teaching a workshop on making where a laser cutter was a small part of many options for learning through creating and making. I also saw a need for a mobile mobile machine that could add possibilities to a project based learning experiences in a school. I could imagine prototyping an idea onsite and getting quick feedback as you test your idea. And then there's the fact that I continue to move back and forth between different locations and moving my Glowforge with me has been possible, but not always practical. These thoughts has me keeping an eye on a more mobile solution like the X-Tools.
But just as I was considering making the X-Tool purchase, Glowforge came out with a similar machine - The GlowForge Aura - craft laser. I must admit deciding between the two was not easy. I joined a few Facebook groups of users of both the XTool M-1 and the Glowforge Aura and listened to members share their success and challenges. I watched several YouTube videos and online articles that compared them.
Although both machines could have met my needs, I was swayed to purchase the X-Tool M-1 for a few different reasons.
- I felt like it would give me insight into more than one company and I might be able to share my experience with both these companies to teachers and students who are looking at entry level laser cutter.
- I liked that the XTools did not need WIFI to operate the machine. Getting a laser cutter on a school network is not always easy, especially if you are a guest teacher and not part of the staff. I've also tried to make projects in locations that don't have wifi access at all. I liked the idea of learning new software that was not subscription based
- I liked that the software was free to download and did not require a subscription for features that allowed you to make small changes to a design, especially the ability to combine shapes by subtracting and or merging compound shapes.
- I liked the fact that I could cut vinyl and potentially show up to a training with one tool (instead of two).
- I was also intrigued by some of the accessories such as the rotary cutter or the risers.