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At just $799, the XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 AiO 3D Printer is one of the most affordable single-extruder 3D printers on the market. (The Da Vinci is available in the UK for £649; pricing and availability for Australia will be announced later.) Yet, it's a full-featured machine that can build large 3D objects and also doubles as a 3D scanner. In testing, it proved to be both reliable and easy to use, too.
There's one caveat, however. The 3D printer uses proprietary consumables that are comparatively more expensive than those used by other 3D printers. The printer also has a few other minor shortcomings, including a nonremovable print platform (which makes it hard to clean the printer's interior after a job) and the fact that you can't swap filaments during a print job to print in multiple colors.
But these are all small sacrifices for a great 3D printer at an amazingly low price. If you're interested in, or even just curious about, 3D printing, the Da Vinci 1.0 AiO is an easy recommendation.
Similar to the case of the be3D DeeGreen, which costs $2,000, the Da Vinci 1.0 AiO doesn't require a lot of work to get it up and running.
Out of the box, the printer is preassembled and precalibrated. You need only to unpack it, which involves removing a lot of padding materials, tapes and plastic loops that keep the parts secure during transit. Though this takes process takes quite some time, it saves a lot of work later.
Why? Because the printer is well-packed for a reason: so that its parts won't shift during transit. This might cause you to have to re-calibrate it, a process that can take much longer than unpacking. Calibration is an important process where you make sure the print platform's entire surface is at a consistent and perfect distance from the print-head's nozzle. If you don't do it correctly, the printer can't produce an object that accurately reflects the 3D model. If you do need to manually calibrate it, the Da Vinci's print platform comes with three screws underneath. It's unlikely you'll need to re-calibrate it, however -- I didn't.
Measuring 18.4 x 20.1 x 22 inches (46.8 x 51 x 55.8cm), this printer is quite large for a single-extruder model (one that can print in only color at a time). The benefit of the Da Vinci's large physical size is that can accommodate a large print platform and indeed, it can build 3D objects of up to 7.8 x 7.8 x 7.8 -inches (about 20 x 20 x 20cm), much larger than what's possible on the DeeGreen. Below the print platform, there's another round turntable platform for the printer's scanning function. The Da Vinci can scan objects of up to 6 x 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 x 15cm).
The only part that needs assembling before you can use the printer is the included ABS filament cartridge. Unlike other 3D printers that use open filament spools, the Da Vinci's spool is contained inside a cartridge. Similar to a laser printer's toner cartridge, you insert it into a slot at the back of printer (the 3D Systems Cube also uses a proprietary cartridge). At the bottom, the cartridge has a sensor contact port that allows the printer to automatically recognize the presence of the filament, its type (ABS or PLA) and how much is left.
Letting the sensor tell the printer when you're low on filament is more convenient than having to manually check a filament spool. In return, though, you have to buy an entire new cartridge when it's empty; you can't just add more filament to it. A cartridge, which sells for $28, holds 600g (1.3 pounds) of filament. By comparison, be3D sells DeeGreen filament at $30 for each 750g (1.7 pound) spool, and Monoprice sell its own at $35 for each 1kg (2.2 pound) spool, and you can use the Monoprice filaments for be3D 3D printers and vise versa. Note that for now, XYZPrinting doesn't take back its used plastic cartridges for recycling. You will need to discard them yourself.
Filaments are the raw material for 3D printing, just like ink cartridges in inkjet printers. They come in different colors and are basically easy-to-melt, quickly congealing plastic strings that are fed through the print head nozzles during a print job. In the case of the Da Vinci, each cartridge comes with the filament string protruding for you to grab on and feed into the printer's print-head.
As for how 3D printers work, during a print job, the print-head pulls the filament string, melts the plastic, and extrudes it onto the platform underneath through the nozzle. The platform lowers gradually depending on the height, and the print head moves around depending on the width and shape of the object being built. As the extruded plastic piles on top layer by layer, it congeals very quickly and after awhile it will slowly form the object. This process is called fused deposition modeling (FDM), and also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). This is the current 3D printing technology used in all consumer-grade 3D printers.
As a single-extruder, the Da Vinci can work with only one filament cartridge at a time, and the printer doesn't allow for swapping out a cartridge during a print job. This means, you can only print objects of one color with the printer.This is not a big problem, however, since you can always paint the object after a job is done.
|Extruder||0.015-inch nozzle single extruder|
|Print platform||Heated print plate|
|Print Technology||Fused Filament Fabrication|
|Build volume||7.8 x 7.8 x 7.8 in (20 x 20 x 20 cm)|
|Layer thickness||0.4 / 0.3 / 0.2 / 0.1mm|
|Nozzle diameter||0.015 in. (0.4mm)|
|Print speed||3.54 in/s (90 mm/s)|
|Scan volume||6 x 6 x 6 in. (15 x 15 x 15 cm)|
|Printer control||2.6-inch LCD|
|Printable materials||Proprietary cartridge containing PLA or ABS filaments (600g each)|
|Power source||230 V / 120 W|
|External dimensions||18.4 x 20.1 x 22 in. (46.8 x 51 x 55.8 cm)|
|OS support||Windows 7 (and later), Mac OS 10.9 (or later)|
On the front, the Da Vinci has a 2.6-inch LCD screen accompanied by six navigation buttons. You can use this screen and the buttons to manage the printer, including loading/unloading the filament, calibrating, viewing the printer's status and so on. On the back the printer has a standard USB port to connect to a computer using an included standard USB 2.0 cable. Since the printer has no SD card slot, the only way to use it is via a computer.
The printer comes included with two pieces of software called XYZWare (Windows and Mac) and XYZScan (Windows only, for now). Both applications are very easy to use with large self-explanatory buttons.
The XYZWare is for 3D printing and allows for standard customization, including changing the size of the 3D object (scaling); the print quality of normal, good (default) or excellent; print speed; the level of filling (hollow or solid) and so on. You can also add multiple 3D model files to a single print job as long as they don't exceed the max print volume.
In my trial, the Windows version of XYZWare works much better than the Mac software, which had a few bugs such as inconsistent status messages, or randomly freezing when moving from one model to another. The problems weren't too distracting, though, and XYZ says it will continue to improve it.
As for what to print, there's a huge collection of 3D object models at Thingiverse that you can use. You can also make your own using free software such as SketchUp or Autodesk 123D. And finally, in the case of the Da Vinci, you can scan an object into a model file. Effectively, the machine allows you to make copies of 3D objects of 6 x 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 x 15cm) in volume or smaller.
Similar to XYZWare, XYZScan also worked well. To scan an object, just run the software and select "Scan," the machine will raise the print platform to reveal the turntable scanning platform below. This is where you place the object that you want to turn in to a 3D model. Next, click on Scan Now and that's it. The machine has two laser scanners, one on each side, that will scan the object as the platform turns it around. Regardless of the size of the object, in my trial, it took less than five minutes to finish a scan.
The XYZScan software allows for a scanning options, including Auto (where the color of the object will be determined automatically), dark, and light. Once an object has been scanned, you can touch it up with a few other options including the level of surface smoothness and the level of the details. You can save a scan as a .das file, which permits more editing later, or as an .stl file, which can be printed out. Once saved as an .stl file, which is the most popular open-source file format for 3D models, the object can't be edited further.
The Da Vinci 1.0 AiO 3D Printer worked well in my testing, both as a printer and a scanner.
As a printer it worked quite fast. For example, a case for the iPhone 5s took about an hour to finish, which is a bit faster than the DeeGreen. The printer's estimated time, displayed on the front LCD, is way off, however. For example, a large job was estimated to take 19 hours turned out to need just 10.
The printer also worked reliably, and I didn't run into any fail prints at all. However it did take much longer time than the DeeGreen to initiate a print job. The initiation process includes heating up the nozzle and print platform (another five minutes or so), and moving the platform to the start position. The platform moves incredibly slowly, taking as much as half a minute to travel slightly less than 9 inches.
Note that while the you can print only from a computer (not from an SD card), once a print job has been sent to the printer, which takes just a few minutes, even with a very large object, you can safely disconnect the computer and the printer will take care of the rest.
In terms of consumables, there's a lot less you can print out of the Da Vinci's cartridge than the DeeGreen's spool of filament. This is partly because a XYZPrinting cartridge only holds 1.3 pounds of filament while a be3D spool hold 1.7 pounds. However, it could also be that cartridge's sensor doesn't gauge the level of filament remaining correctly. In my testing, when the cartridge was reported empty, I opened it and there was still a relatively large amount of filament left. That said, you can still print many objects, including large ones, out of one cartridge.
As a scanner, the Da Vinci also worked very well. Overall, the scanned object has the same physical size as the original. In terms of details, however, this depends. Objects with smooth surfaces tended to be more precisely scanned than those with lots of details, angles or rough surfaces. This is also true with larger objects versus smaller ones. In all, I'd say the accuracy is in the range of 90 to 99 percent.
The Da Vinci is quieter than the DeeGreen or any of the other 3D printers I've known. It does make noise, however, which sounds vaguely like someone practicing the saxophone but trying to muffle the sound at the same time.
The Da Vinci 1.0 AiO 3D Printer is full of pleasant surprises. First is the price -- at $799 it's significantly more affordable than many other 3D printers on the market, including those with smaller print platforms. Then there's the fact that it's also a 3D scanner. And finally, both of its scanning and printing functions worked very well, right out of the box.
The machine is not perfect, however. My biggest concern is the fact that it uses proprietary consumables that are not only more expensive than those of other printers, but will also potentially produce a lot of trash.
If you can live with those factors, however, this is the best deal when it comes to 3D printing, for now.