Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 21, 2017
3D Printer XYZ da Vinci Junior 1.0w review

After some deliberation I finally decided to buy myself a 3D printer. I got the XYZ da Vinci Jr. 1.0w for €471 over here in Belgium. I could have gotten it from for $269, but then the electric plug would have been wrong, and as the box is huge it would probably have cost a lot for shipping. Buying it locally meant that I ordered it on Tuesday and got in on Thursday, and if there is a problem I have a shop to go to complain.

The box contains not only the printer, but also a small spool of PLA to start printing with (it's just 100 meters, while a full XYZprinting spool is 240 meters / 600 g), an 8 GB SD card, a power transformer with the world's shortest power cable (1'), and a bunch of tools for maintenance. There was also some print bed tape that provides better adhesion of the printed object to the bed.

I used a laptop with the provided USB cable to set up the printer. The software was on the SD card, but then updated from the internet. There was also an automatic update of the printer firmware. Once I had used the USB cable to set up the Wifi, I didn't need any cable any more, and I could even control the printer from the desktop PC (which doesn't have a Wifi card but is on the same network). That is why I bought the 1.0w version, because I could install the printer in a separate less used room instead of next to my PC. 3D printing is more noisy and smelly than 2D printing, although not extremely so.

The installation of the printer went so fast that I was already printing the first figurines on the same evening. And the quality of the figurines I made at home was the indistinguishable from the figurines that I had previously printed on somebody else's $2500 Makerbot 3D printer. However my printer is limited to 15 cm x 15 cm x 15 cm size of objects, while the expensive printer can make much bigger things. Which right now I wouldn't want to, because 3D printing is a relatively slow affair: It takes me already half an hour to print a 28 mm scale D&D figurine, which is just about 1 m of PLA filament or 2.5 g. Printing something big can take all day.

The only thing I find really annoying about this brand of printers is that XYZprinting sells you proprietary spools of PLA (or ABS for other models of printers) which come with an RFID chip. The chip prevents you from using cheaper no-brand PLA from other sources. So now I'm paying €30 for a 600 g spool instead of €25 for a 1 kg spool of PLA filament, basically twice the price. There is probably a way to hack those chips, but I haven't looked into it yet, because I don't want to void my warranty yet. As far as I have tested up to now the printer consumes about 2 meters of filament per hour printed, so even a 600 g spool with 240 meters does last quite a while.

My biggest remaining problem is that I don't have the tools and skills to create my own things to print. On a 2D printer I can print the text I wrote or the photo I shot, but on the 3D printer I need to search the internet for somebody else's .stl file to print. There are lots of them around on sites like Thingiverse. And there is free CAD software like TinkerCAD to create basic models myself. But what I would really like to have is something like the editor from Heroforge to create custom miniatures for D&D. Unfortunately the FAQ of Heroforge states that they aren't selling downloadable files yet, you need to print the miniatures with them.


Hi boss, I would like to ask you more details about the visual/tactile quality of the printed object. Does it require some refining job or does it come out "almost" perfect? Does it have printing leftovers, rough edges, etc? I usually see printed products that look like very cheap plastic toys, did things change over the last months? Apart from costs and printing time, how would you rate the final result?
"Very cheap plastic toy" pretty much describes it. The main quality issue is that no surface printed with a filament type printer is ever really smooth. The object is printed layer by layer, with one layer typically being 0.2 mm, and as a result the layers are rather visible. Think back of the time when 3D cards in computers were not as powerful and didn't have good antialiasing: The result was visible steps and all diagonal and curved lines. A 3D printer has the same in 3D, visible steps.

Sometimes there are also printing leftovers. And sometimes you even *want* additional plastic stuff around your model, in the so-called "supports", which are sometimes needed to print parts of the model that begin not on the bottom layer (e.g. a figurine with outstretched arms). All these you can easily remove with a scalpel.

What kind of refining job you need depends on what you want to use the object for. The rough surface might be not a disadvantage for example if you want to paint your miniature. I don't paint mine, but I don't mind them being rough.
Ok that makes sense, good feedback. Question: given enough patience/skill can the surface be refined enough to look smooth and -in general- more polished? Does the plastic allow any kind of additional work, apart from cutting out rough edges and leftovers? Painting over a rough surface can be good and bad at the same time: good for skin/fur/wood/rock elements... bad for swords, armors and shiny parts. Unless you can apply some kind of lucid/shiny paint over it, if that's even possible.
In this day and age... where is the video of that thing in action? ;-)

Copying other peoples models might mean copyright infringement, heroforge wants your money and not give you their templates.

Blender is a free software to create your own models.
The existing "cheap plastic toys", predominantly made in China, are cheap because they are injection molded. That means hot, liquid plastic is injected into a mold. And if the mold has a polished surface, the resulting plastic part will have a polished surface too. Actually "polishing" plastic to a shine is difficult, it might be easier to try and melt the surface so it becomes shiny.

The PLA used by this printer is more brittle than the polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP) used in most plastic toys. It's easy to break things off if you want to, but too easy to break it if you don't want to as well. The layers don't help, they create an anisotrophy, meaning the part breaks easily along the layers.

Videos on this printer in action can be found on YouTube, no need for me to add one, that is not my kind of media.
Tobold you're a horrible product seller :-P
Tobold PLEASE try something like this :)
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