Now that you got your printer up and running and spitting out calicats like there’s no tomorrow, you might be inclined to do a firmware upgrade to get the latest and greatest. Unfortunately Artillery only provides one firmware based on Marlin 1.1.9 which is the latest version of Marlin 1.x released in August 2018. There is a good reason for that which we will discuss a bit later, but for now don’t do any upgrades to the firmware.
You should run your printer for a couple of weeks to make sure it works fine in the default configuration. Play with the slicer settings, experiment with different materials, see what works and what doesn’t and try to understand why. Then feel free to start modding and upgrading.
Should you need out of warranty replacement parts (or just don’t want to wait for Artillery to send them to you), here is a list of suppliers of original Artillery Sidewinder and Genius spare parts across the world:
https://www.abs-3d.de/ - Machined aluminium print beds
As mentioned in the setup procedure, print a bed cable strain relief, flat ribbon strain relief and a dust filter. Very handy and easy to install upgrades that will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
One thing that might give you a bit of a headache in the begining could be the nozzle that came installed in the printer. Leaving asside the fact that it’s a low quality nozzle and it will wear out over time, mine was already partially clogged from the factory. I spent about 4 days trying to tune my slicer settings and the presure of the extruder idler lever until I decided to replace it with the spare provided with the printer. After that everything magicaly worked like it should have from the begining.
So do yourself a favor and order some good quality nozzles to have handy. But don’t go for the steel nozzles just yet as their main purpose is printing abrasive materials which you will not be doing any time soon.
One thing that can influence the quality of your prints is the cooling. The default fan shroud is fine in most situations but it does have a small flow derived from the fact that it blows all the air from one direction. This will create more stringing on the back of your print when using materials such as PETG that loves to string. Replacing it with a fan that distributes the air flow from 2 directions will help reduce this stringing issue and improve the cooling of your part during the printing process.
I am still experimenting with different shroud designs but I still have not found a perfect one so I can’t really make a recommendation here. But feel free to experiment with the designs you find on thingiverse and see what works for you. Just keep in mind that since the shroud will be close to the nozzle you have to print it in PETG or better yet ABS or ASA.
A good comparison between different shroud models can be found in the video What is the BEST fan for your Sidewinder X1 3d printer?. Some of them require a different fan tho.
There is some controversy regarding the benefit of adding a bed probe like the BLTouch or clones. The bed on the Genius is rather small and leveling it is easy enough so that it does not really require a leveling probe. On the Sidewinder on the other hand it makes more sense as the bed is biger. It also makes sense to add one if you are using different printing surfaces like magnetic PEI sheets on top of your bed and keep swapping between them.
But don’t think that adding a bed probe will magically solve your leveling issues as unfortunately is not a straight forward process, it requires some calibration and a firmware update for both the mainboard and the TFT.
I wrote a detailed guide on How to setup a BLTouch probe on your Artillery printer
Has the process of moving SDCards from your computer to the printer and viceversa tired you out ?
Fear not, there is a much better way of doing things! Get yourself a Raspberry PI and install OctoPrint. Both Prusa Slicer and Ultimaker Cura can connect remotely to the OctoPrint server and be used for printing. The Cura plugin even allows you to monitor the webcam (if you have one on your PI) and control your printer.
The only downside is that you won’t get any feedback on the TFT while using OctoPrint, except for the nozzle and bed temperatures. This means no print time, no pause and no way to abort the print from the TFT in case something goes wrong.
As there is a lot of empty space inside the base of the printer, I have installed my PI next to the vents on the left side, behind the TFT. This way the PI is in the way of the airflow cooling the printer and it does not go over 50C even without a radiator.
Changing the default PTFE lined heatbreak with an all metal one will allow you to use extruder temperatures above the 240C recomended for the one that comes with the printer. This will grant access to printing more specialized materials but could create issues for the more basic ones like PLA. In my experience of about 6 weeks since I upgraded to an all metal heatbreak I did not experiece such issues but I guess it’s too early to tell.
One way to make your printer blend in your living room is by building an enclosure. This will also prevent draft from ruining your prints and protect the printer from dust.
I built myself an adapted version of the Original Prusa i3 MK3 ENCLOSURE - Ikea Lack table with modified top supports to which I added 60mm in height to match the height of the Genius. Of course the plexiglass panels are now 500mm in height instead of the 440mm specified in the guide. The Lack tables are cheap but also hallow inside so I had to add some 3D printed L shaped brackets to all the legs for more stability. All of the modded files are can be downloaded here
There is no need for extra cooling of the printer’s electronics as the temperature inside does not go over 40C which is fine as most components start having issues only above 50C. But, just to be safe you can drill a hole in the bottom table where the printer’s case fan is just to make sure it’s got enough room to vent.
As mentioned in the 3d printer overview there are 2 components (the mainboard and the TFT) that work independently and have separate firmwares and only communicate with each other via a serial port which is also shared with the external USB of the mainboard. This shared serial port design unfortunately blocks the USB firmware upgrade process for the mainboard.
In order to update your mainboad’s firmware you need to open the printer and disconnect your TFT from the mainboard by unpluging it’s ribbon cable at one of the ends (whichever one has less glue on it). After that you connect your printer to a PC and use Prusa Slicer to upload the .hex firmware to the mainboard.
The TFT can be updated via a SD Card (16Gb or less), so it’s a bit easier.
Do not upgrade your firmware until your machine is fully functional using the firmware it came with. Upgrading the firmware will not magicaly solve your problems with the machine (if you have any) and won’t make your prints any better (whith some exceptions like Linear Advance).
Main reason you want to upgrade your firmware are the new features. While there are not many radical improvements from the stock firmware there are a few quality of life ones.
As explained in the 3D printer overview, Artillery printers run on Marlin 1.x firmware (1.1.9 to be more precise). Because the printers use an 8bit board there is no real advantage to using Marlin 2.x as all the features the board can handle are implemented in the 1.x version.
Great article explaining why Marlin 1.x is enough for our printers: Artillery X1 and Genius: Why Haven’t I Done a Marlin 2.x.x Firmware yet? ABL Sensors?
Here are several firmware available, all based on Marlin. Most of them include an instalation guide and also a TFT firmware companion. I will try to keep this list as up-to-date as possible, but it’s better check on each site what each firmware has to offer.
G2Barbour’s M600 Enabled Firmware for both Sidewinder X1 and Genius
Firmware that I use for my Artillery Genius (more or less same as Waggster but on Marlin 1.x and with my own personal tweaks)
Original Artillery Sidewinder Firmware (source code only)
Original Artillery Genius Firmware (source code only)
Many people online will recommend geting a flexible spring steel sheet covered in a layer of PEI. Well, I got one just about as soon as I got my printer. But the Ultrabase clone of the bed was working fine for me most of the times, you just have to clean it often and give it a scrub from time to time, I did not wish to disable it by placing the magnet sheet on top. I though I can put some mangets under the bed to keep the spring steel on top of the Ultrabase and test it like that (just like it works on Prusa printers). Unfortunately just placing magnets on the sides is not enough to keep the spring steel sheet flat as the middle tends to deform while heating.
My only complain so far with the default Ultrabase-like bed surface was the fact that you have to wait a lot for it to cool down so it can release the prints, and even at room temperature (24C) I had a hard time removing my PLA ones. And the isolation underneath the bed heating silicone element is not helping with cooling (but can’t argue with it’s pro’s during printing).
So, after about 10 weeks of staring at that PEI sheet every day thinking of alternative ways to attach it to the bed I decided it’s time to experiment so I went ahead and installed the magnetic sticker that on the bed. And now I’m glad I did and a bit sorry it took me so long to do it.
I will list a few of the things noticed during my first weeks of using the felxible PEI sheet:
You can get this kind of spring steel PEI sheet from Amazon, Aliexpress, Banggood, your local retailers etc. They are basically everywhere. Mine is Eryone Magnetic Flexible Printing Surface and I got it from Amazon. I can’t really recommend it since I cannot compare with others but so far it’s been really good to me. But whichever you get, measure your bed to see the minimum size you need. For the Genius that would be the 235x235mm. You can also get them textured if you want and even double sided (one side flat and the other textured).
I have now ordered a BuildTak foil to place on the other side of the spring steel sheet and make it double sided.
If your a bit OCD like me and like to keep things organized, you can print yourself some lables that can be atached to the cables inside your 3D printer to make them more easy to recognize so you don’t mix them up. Here are some of the options:
Stepper Motor Cable Mark by xDOOTx
Cable Clips by pcsentinel
Multimaterial Cable Clips by JuanPuchol
If you feel adventurous or have nothing better to do, you can try to upgrade the mainboard to a 32bit version. The most popular boards are the SKR series from BigTreeTech (BTT) but other options exists such as the MakerBase MKS SGEN L which is a direct replacement for the MKS GEN L 8bit board the Genius and the Sidewinder are both equiped with. At the moment theese boards don’t bring anything ground breaking to the table but as Marlin 1.x firmware is no longer developed this is more of a future proof upgrade. There are no new features in Marlin 2.x just yet, but probably there will be in the future as more 32bit only content evolves.
When it comes to stepper drivers, best available right now is the TMC2209. It features StealthChop2 which makes your printer even quieter belive it or not, and makes you wanna replace your extruder fans with something silent cause that’s all you will be hearing from now on. Another feature is StallGuard4 which does load measurement so it can detect when the motor is not moving or has dificulties in moving. This is useful for providing sensorless endstops. If that’s not a thing for you, the TMC2208 is also a good choice. One other thing those drivers have in common is that they can comunicate with the board via UART (serial) so their parameters can be configured from the firmware and you don’t have to go around setting jumpers or adjusting v-ref trimmers. They also give a lot of feedback to the firmware so it can also adjust various things on the fly.
Whichever board you choose remember it’s best to pick the steppers from the same manufacturer for compatibilities reasons.
SKR 1.3 Upgrade for Sidewinder X1 covered by 3dprintbeginner is a detailed guide on how to install the BTT SKR board.
I have also made a quick Upgrade Artillery Genius or Sidewinder to a MKS SGEN L 32bit board overview guide.
A list of upgrades and replacement parts can be found on 3D Nexus’ article Artillery 3D Printers, Parts, Upgrades And Mods
3dprintbeginner’s pick at his favourite upgrades Sidewinder X1 Upgrades – Paid and Free