xTool Air Assist
Laser engravers need an air assist pump. Not “should I get an air assist”? You need one. Period. An air assist pushes particles and soot away from your job giving you a cleaner engraving. They maximize efficiency in cutting and prevent flame ups and fires. They keep your optical glass clean. For years I have been using a Hydroponic pump ($60) which quite honestly works great and is about half the price of an xTool Air Assist pump ($139)
And yet something happened that made me make the switch to the xTool Air Pump.
When I would plug this air assist in or unplug it, my monitor would either go blank or corrupt the signal. I would then have to turn it off and then back on to restore the picture.
Then once or twice I had laser jobs just stop mid stream for no reason.
My first suspect was this air pump and I was able to confirm this was the culprit by simply plugging it into another electrical outlet. Actually, I completely isolated it by plugging it into a portable power supply, a Jackery 500.
No matter what I did I could not reproduce the laser failure with the air pump on another circuit.
What Caused This?
What caused this failure? While I can’t be 100% certain it sure sounds like Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) or Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). Motors and pumps spew EMI and the typically cheap USB cables that we use with our lasers are unshielded. An unshielded wire can also be referred to as an “Antenna”.
Your USB cable consists of 4 wires. 5v, Ground, Data +, and Data – (and maybe a shield).
A stray signal can be picked up by a data wire and can corrupt your laser data streaming from your computer to your laser.
Before you think I’m making this up I spent a career as a DOD Electronics Tech Rep working on the Aircraft Visual Landing Aid systems that go on Aircraft Carriers. EMI and RFI are very real phenomena .
More Reasons To Switch To xTool Air Assist
The pump I have listed above is LOUD. And it vibrates pretty obnoxiously. It will dance its way right off of a table as there are no vibration dampening feet on it. There is no on and off switch on the pump either. In fact I would almost be willing to bet the EMI is maxed out when plugging the pump in or unplugging it to start and stop it.
Could I add a switch to it? Yeah. Do I want to? No.
Making The Change To The xTool Air Assist
While it is possible for me to run my pump off of another electrical outlet, it isn’t terribly practical for me to do so. So I decided to go ahead and purchase the xTool Air Assist.
It’s quite modern looking and it has 4 rubber feet for vibration absorption and reduction.
After i plugged it in I noted that it does not dance around and it is QUIET! Really quiet.
A few inches from the plug is an in line switch as well! xTool has already dealt with all the deficiencies I have noted from my hydroponic pump that I noted above.
Assembly is a snap and an online manual can be found here.
The xTool Air Assist is rated at a flow of 30 liters per minute. The hydroponic pump I have is listed at 70 liters per minute. So my first thought was that the xTool pump wasn’t nearly as strong. Using the highly scientific method of turning them both on and feeling the air flow from both at the same time my conclusion was………..A TIE. They both seemed to be moving the same amount of air. Here’s something a tad bit more scientific.
It’s pretty clear that the xTool Air Assist is moving more air and displacing more water. And this is despite the flow ratings of the other pump which claims more than twice the air flow.
What is not to love here (except the price difference)?
- No EMI issues revealed yet
- Silent operation
- Vibration dampening
- On / Off Switch
- Better air flow
Not any cons but one suggestion. I have two xTool lasers sitting next to each other and sometimes operate them at the same time. The hydroponic pump comes with a 6 position valve stem which allows me to use more than one port at a time. The xTool air assist does not come with a multi position port attachment. Can you add one on after market? Sure. It might be nice to be able to provide air assist to two lasers at once though.
The Laser OG can and does strongly recommend the xTool Air Assist pump.