Reviewing the Qidi X-Smart 3 3D Printer

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June 18, 2024

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When looking for a cheap 3D printer, there are two brands which are often recommended – Bambu Labs, and Creality.

Creality has long been the established brand for cheap printers, and I have owned both a CR-10 and an Ender 3 in the past. Bambu Labs, a relative newcomer, has stormed onto the scene with their A1 and A1 mini printers.

A name you don’t often hear is Qidi Tech. Qidi are no stranger to the 3D printer market, though historically have targeted the higher end of the market. With the X-smart 3, this is no longer the case. Available for just £249 at the time of writing, the X-smart 3 is not only a cheap printer, but has a somewhat unique design amongst its competitors.

I bought one of these back in December 2023, and having used it for a few months, have a few thoughts on the printer.

We also have a video review of the printer you might be interested to watch, which is available here.

Specifications

To start, we’ll take a look at the specifications. The Qidi X-smart 3 is part of the X-3 line of printers, being the smallest of the trio. With a build area of 175x180x170, it is comparible to the Bambu Lab A1 mini. Note that there is conflicting information on the build area (the build plate states a size of 185×185), but the size stated here is the size used by slicing software.

X-smart 3 build plate
Build plate of the Qidi Tech X-smart 3

One feature of the X-Smart 3 that is often missing from printers of a similar price point is the basic enclosure. While this is not heated or sealed, it’s enough to trap heat around the build area, and some users have had success using filaments typically requiring heated enclosures. It also helps to eliminate drafts from affecting the print – a bonus if you’re using sensitive filaments.

Another notable design choice is the use of a CoreXY layout. Typically found in more expensive printers, the CoreXY design moves the nozzle in both the X and Y axis, with the bed moving down on the Z axis to advance the print. This contrasts with competing printers at this price point, which use the more traditional ‘bed-slinger’ design. This design moves the bed along the Y-axis. The reduced movement of mass in the CoreXY design can improve print quality, and the lack of bed movement in the Y-axis makes the space required for the printer smaller.

Features such as bed mesh levelling, a filament runout sensor, Wi-Fi and a are included as standard. A camera can be added to the printer, but this is an optional extra.

A minor downside of the X-smart 3 (and indeed the rest of the X-3 range) is the use of a proprietary nozzle. This nozzle is slightly shorter than what has become the standard nozzle design, meaning only nozzles designed for the X-3 series are guaranteed to fit correctly. That said, the difference is small, and the longer nozzles will work just fine.

Unboxing & Initial Setup

The printer comes entirely pre-assembled, and is surrounded by a decent layer of foam. Contained within the foam, you’ll find the included accessories:

  • 250g filament
  • Glue stick
  • 16GB USB drive
  • Scraper
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Allen keys
  • Replacement nozzles
Accessories included with the X-smart 3
Accessories included with the X-smart 3

Before printing, there are a few pieces of packaging to remove from inside the printer, which are used to keep the internals secure during shipping. It’s safe to turn the printer on as soon as it’s unpacked, as the initial setup process will guide you to remove the internal packaging.

Packaging surrounding the hot end
Packaging surrounds the nozzle/hot end, to secure it during shipping

Part of the setup involves a process known as input shaping. Input shaping attempts to compensate for resonance caused by the vibration of the printer during printing, which is influenced by the surface the printer is sat on. Make sure the printer is installed where you intend to do this before competing this step. You can redo this process later on, which is recommended if you move the printer.

Using the Printer

To get you started, Qidi include some pre-sliced models on the included USB drive. I tested the printer by printing the included benchy, which looks great.

X-smart 3 benchy
Benchy model printed on the Qidi Tech X-smart 3

I then printed a few other prints, which I sliced myself. These too came out looking good, though some ghosting was visible on the corners, particularly on the larger prints.

X-smart 3 battery holder
Battery holder printed on the Qidi Tech X-smart 3

The included build plate held on to prints tightly, but there were not problems removing them once the prints were complete. It has a textured surface which shows up in the print – I like surface texture, but it’s something to consider when orienting your print on the bed. Qidi sell a smooth build plate for the printer should you wish to achieve a smooth finish.

A downside of this printer is the high volume level when the printer is turned on. This is in part down to the movement of the belts, but the bulk of the noise comes from the motherboard cooling fan. This fan is always active when the printer is turned on, and is the first thing you will notice on powering it up. This is something I’ll be looking to replace in the future, to reduce the noise level of the printer.

Slicing Software

Qidi include a copy of their own slicer on the included USB drive, which is a fork of BambuStudio. I opted not to use this, instead using OrcaSlicer, which can be downloaded here: https://github.com/SoftFever/OrcaSlicer/releases

OrcaSlicer is itself a fork of BambuStudio, and is sponsored by Qidi Tech. I’d like to see them push OrcaSlicer more in the future, as I see little value in maintaining a custom fork for their relatively small printer range.

I won’t go into detail here on OrcaSlicer, other than to say there are built-in profiles for the X-smart 3.

Network Access

If your printer is connected to a network, it’s possible to access a web interface to monitor and control the printer remotely. It’s not well documented, but you can access this web UI through port 10088, using the IP address stated on the printer.

X-smart 3 ip address
Network screen, showing the printer IP address. In this example, the web UI can be accessed using the URL http://192.168.0.60:10088

It can also be accessed through the ‘Device’ tab in OrcaSlicer.

X-smart 3 web ui
fluidd interface used by the X-smart 3 printer

The X-smart 3 uses the fluidd interface, which is commonly used by printers running the Klipper firmware. It is a full featured interface, allowing control of temperatures, hotend/bed position, bed levelling and print job management, among other features.

You can also send sliced files directly to the printer through the slicer, which will occur automatically when the printer is available on the network. This removes the need to use a USB drive to transfer sliced files.

Filament Issues

One issue I’ve had with this printer is actually with the Qidi PLA Rapido filament, which I chose to purchase alongside the printer. While the surface finish is good, so far, every roll I have used has tangled multiple times through the roll.

This has lead to several failed prints, and I’ve had to resort to manually unwinding the filament by hand to check that it’s loose before the printer tried to extrude it. This is obviously inconvenient, and despite printing well, I doubt I’d purchase any more of this filament.

Conclusion

To conclude, I would recommend anyone looking for a low cost 3D printer to take a look at the Qidi Tech X-smart 3. I love the enclosed CoreXY design, which is not something you typically see in printers at this price point. I have yet to try more advanced materials, but you’re likely to get better results using ABS or PETG in a printer with an enclosure than you would with one that’s open.

I’d just suggest looking elsewhere for filament.

As a reminder, you can see our video review of this printer, including seeing it in action during a print, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIc5DrOaXZ4

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