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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.

davinci eiffeltower 

The Eiffel Tower print job was less than perfect, but sufficient, especially for a machine in this price range.

By comparison, XYZprinting's da Vinci Junior failed rather spectacularly in trying to print the Eiffel Tower; its result was a mess of filament barely resembling the precise virtual model it from which it printed.

Another challenging test of a 3D printer is making multiple objects simultaneously. I printed four Pokemon-style chess pieces on the Mini, which took three hours, two minutes.

The pieces, which have Pokemon character figurines atop them, came out as well as any other desktop fused-filament fabrication printer I've tested, even vastly more expensive machines. And, the pieces were spot on representations of the .STL files from which they were printed.

davinci chesspieces

The most impressive print job consisted of four chess pieces that were printed simultaneously.

My last test for the da Vinci Mini was another chess piece, but this time it was a rook with a spiral design on its outside. The design, something like a swizzle stick, wraps around the piece and can be a challenge for 3D printers to replicate. On top of that, I decided to upscale the size of the chess piece to see if the machine would still accurately reproduce it. In short, it did.

Model adhesion and speed

One shortcoming of the lower-end da Vinci 3D printers is their print beds, which are made of aluminum and require the user to cover the surface with masking tape for better adhesion.

XYZprinting even recommends you slather the masking-taped surface with glue stick to increase adhesion. And with all that, some models still tend to break away during a print, which is disappointing, especially when the model is almost completed. For most of my prints, however, the models held tight and were easily removed once finished.

Like the da Vinci Junior before it, the Mini is a relatively slow printing machine. It is, however, slightly faster than its predecessor. It took one hour and 20 minutes to print an octopus figurine that had a 3-in. diameter and about 1-in. height; the Junior took 12 minutes longer to print the same model. That, however, compares to another 3D printer I reviewed -- the Lulzbot Mini -- which needed just 30 minutes to produce the same figurine. However, the Lulzbot Mini, which has become my benchmark machine, is a $1,350 printer.

Conclusion

While less expensive than the da Vinci Junior, and with fewer bells and whistles, I believe the da Vinci Mini is a superior machine.

 

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