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Review: The da Vinci Mini leads as a low-cost 3D printer

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 17, 2016
While not flawless, the Mini is reliable and produces good quality 3D builds.

When it began to print, the first attribute of the da Vinci Mini that struck me was how quiet it was. After having reviewed more than a dozen 3D printers, I can tell you some are intolerably loud and must be placed in a separate room with the door closed or you'll be tempted to pull your hair out. Others are whisper-quiet, but they are usually more expensive or have enclosed printing areas. This printer is open air and yet it is among the quietest I've ever used.

XYZware

XYZprinting's proprietary 3D management software -- XYZware -- allows very basic position manipulation of an object once it has been loaded onto the virtual print bed and offers the ability to scale the object's size. You can also add multiple 3D model files to a single print job as long as they don't exceed the maximum 5.9-in. cubed print volume.

xyzware image

The chess pieces as seen in XYZprinting’s XYZware management software, prior to printing.

You won't be able to dissect a print job and inspect it layer-by-layer to ensure its quality, which is a feature found in more sophisticated software from other companies. And you have no control over how much support material is applied to specific areas of an object that has protruding or precarious features. (Adding support material ensures features don't droop or fail while being printed.)

That said, I had no issues with the machine's default settings in producing quality prints.

Test results

My first test of the da Vinci Mini consisted of printing a spiral-shaped vase that I downloaded from XYZprinting's online design community. Considering the design had been vetted by XYZprinting, I expected it be a successful print, and it was -- but more than that, I found the resolution on the piece to be impeccable.

davinci spiralvase

The da Vinci Mini handily printed a spiral vase, the file for which XYZprinting supplied with the machine.

My standard test for 3D printers is to have them build a 6-in. Eiffel Tower model. The da Vinci Mini was able to accomplish the task in 1 hour, 40 minutes, which was impressive. Not so impressive was the actual build, which did accomplish the tower but with so many printing errors that it came out missing scaffolding sections and with a good deal of disarrayed filament.

Still, I've seen far worse from far more expensive 3D printers, so I have to give the da Vinci Mini a solid C for effort on the Eiffel Tower build. While this machine may not be able to replicate the most intricate of details on a build, it gets most right, and that's impressive for a sub-$300 printer.

 

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