When I unboxed XYZPrinting's Nobel 1.0 stereolithographic (SLA) 3D printer, I'd just finished shipping off another top-rated and remarkably accurate SLA machine, the Formlabs Form 1+.
XYZprinting is known for its low-cost printers -- the Taiwanese company has made its bones in the market by offering up what are arguably the least expensive plug-and-play 3D printers available today; its da Vinci Jr. 1.0 retails for just $350. So I was skeptical that its version of a liquid photosensitive polymer-based printer would stand up to the competition.
In some ways it did -- in others, it didn't.
At $1,500, the Nobel 1.0 is XYZprinting's most expensive 3D printer, but cost is relative. It is about half the price of other SLA machines, such as the previously mentioned Formlabs Form 1+ and FSL3D's Pegasus Plus.
SLA printers use a tank filled with photosensitive resin and an ultraviolet light source (a laser) to trace out the design of a model that's been uploaded to the machine. A print (build) platform is lowered into the resin pool and the laser strikes the pool of resin from underneath, hardening the resin as it draws out the pattern layer by layer. The build platform lifts out of the pool and an object is created upside down.
The Nobel 1.0, which was unveiled in January and will go on sale in the third quarter of this year, is shaped like an obelisk. It's nearly two feet tall, but it's got a relatively small footprint (11.0 x 13.2 in.), so it fits nicely on a desktop with room to spare. It weighs only 21.2 lb. The build area is a respectable 5.0 x 5.0 x 7.9 in.
Simple to set up and use
As with all of XYZprinting's machines, the Nobel 1.0 was a snap to set up in under five minutes. As with the company's other 3D printers, the Nobel 1.0 has a 2.6 x 1 in. LCD display controlled by six buttons, four of which are cursor controls that allow you to traverse a menu for utilities, settings and other information. There is also a central "select" as well as a handy "home" button for returning the menu to its original setting.
The machine has onboard file storage and a USB port for uploading stereolithography (.stl) files for printing via a USB cable attached to your computer. Onboard storage is useful because, once a model is uploaded from your computer to the printer, you can disconnect and go on your merry way while it prints. The Nobel 1.0 requires a computer running Windows 7 or later; other printers I've reviewed were compatible with Windows, OS X and Linux platforms.
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