The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is a moderately priced closed-frame 3D printer with a large build volume and overall good performance, but a potentially balky filament-feeding system.

It’s easy to imagine a 3D printer as something of a magic cube in which all sorts of wonders are created. The $449 XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro does its best to evoke this: a translucent-orange box that takes plastic filament and turns it into innumerable objects, practical and decorative by turn. This romanticized perspective of 3D printing, or some variation on it, doubtless runs through the heads of many of the newbies and students for whom the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is intended, and this moderately priced 3D printer delivers an experience that should capture the imagination of young users, while offering add-ons to help stave off obsolescence for more experienced ones. Only a balky filament-feeding system encountered in our testing prevents it from earning a top pick.

The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is a closed-frame 3D printer with a boxy shape, rounded corners, and angled top edges. In front is a door that swings upward, below which is an LCD for easy control of functions such as filament loading/unloading and setting the extruder the proper distance above the print bed (Z-axis alignment). The 1.0 A Pro’s closed frame reduces both noise and the potential for accidental burns from its hot extruder. Its primary supported kind of filament, polylactic acid (PLA), is easy to work and odorless. These factors make the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro a good choice for 3D-printing beginners, (supervised) children, and classrooms.

The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro combines elements from both XYZprinting’s Junior and Pro series. Junior models are customizable, supporting add-ons such as—in the case of the printer under review—a laser engraver module (a $200 option) and a hardened-steel nozzle extruder (see the image below) that supports printing with XYZprinting’s carbon-fiber filament as well as metallic PLA. (XYZprinting often sells the hardened-steel extruder as part of a bundle with the 1.0 A Pro, which costs little more than the printer alone). Both the aforementioned accessories were sent to us with our test unit.

The company also describes its Junior printers, geared to the classroom, as small enough to fit on a desktop. I suppose that depends on whether you need to use that desk for anything other than 3D printing; the 1.0 A Pro measures a sizable 15 by 16.5 by 16.9 inches.

The 1.0 A Pro’s jumbo frame does allow for a large build area (6.9 inches in each dimension). That is slightly larger than the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini’s 5.9 inches and considerably larger than the Monoprice Cadet (4.1 by 3.9 by 3.9 inches) and Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer (4.7 inches in all dimensions).

Like the printers in the Junior series, da Vinci Pro models support add-ons and also allow for the use of third-party filaments and software. The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is an upgraded version of the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A. I had reviewed an even earlier model, the XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0, in 2015, and the printer under review here is a marked improvement over it, with a larger build area and better software, among other advancements.

After removing a copious supply of tape, clips, cardboard, and foam-rubber spacers—in place to prevent the 1.0 A Pro from being damaged in shipping—you install the XYZware suite of software, either from an included SD card or from XYZprinting’s website. (To run it, you will need to set up and log into a free account with XYZprinting.) Next, you will cover the print bed with a square sheet of what resembles masking tape. Objects adhere to the sheet during printing, yet they can be pulled off with a minimum of effort when printing is complete.

The trickiest part of the printer’s setup is in getting the filament to feed properly from the spool to the extruder. Much of this involves correctly seating the filament-feeding guide tube—a so-calledBowden tube,” whose inner diameter is just larger than a strand of 1.75mm filament—that runs from the top of the filament feeder into the extruder assembly. You have to jab one end of the tube into a small hole on top of the filament feeder, and the other end into the top of the extruder assembly.

To get the tube to stay in place required surprising force. It was helpful to press downward with the index and middle finger of my free hand on the sides of a tiny black gasket located on top of each hole while inserting the tube with the other hand. This was relatively easy to do for the extruder assembly, but harder for the less-accessible filament-feeder top. Even when the tube was in place, I learned to give it a gentle tug to make sure it was securely fashioned. (Left to its own devices, one end of the tube popped out a couple of times during printing, scuttling my print jobs.)

Once the feed tube is in place, you can add a filament spool to the spool holder located on the left side of the printer’s interior. You then feed the free end of the filament into the bottom of the filament feeder, pressing down on a lever to clear its path upward into the guide tube. You can then run the loading routine from the printer’s LCD, in which the extruder is heated up, and the filament gets pushed through the guide tube into the extruder.

The print bed is unheated, limiting the filament types that the 1.0 A Pro will support. XYZprinting sells 600g filament spools of standard PLA for $22.95, carbon-fiber ones for $29.95, and metallic PLA for $34.95. (The latter two require the hardened-steel extruder nozzle.)

You can use compatible third-party filaments, though they lack the RFID chip of XYZprinting’s own spools, and you’ll have to enter some settings in the software. You can also use larger filament spools, though you’d have to print your own external spool holder to support them.

Connectivity is twofold. For standalone printing, you can process a file and save it to an SD card, which you then insert into the printer’s card slot. You can then view the files on the SD card on the LCD and access the one you wish to print. Alternatively, you can connect the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro to a computer via an included USB cable. I did all of my printing over a USB connection, first loading a file in XYZware’s XYZprint program, processing (resizing, and so on) the object to be printed, which you can monitor on a representation of the build plate onscreen.

You thenslicethe file (the software breaks it into layers for printing), choose the type of filament to print with, and launch the print. XYZprint is adequate, although it lacks the range of settings found in the open-source program Cura, which many 3D printer manufacturers use as the basis of their software. Although Cura isn’t included with the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro, you can print files created in Cura and saved to SD card on the printer.

The nine test prints I completed showed average overall print quality. The only misprints were from two cases in which the feed tube became detached from the filament feeder as described above. I did eight of the prints at Normal (200-micron) resolution, and one at High Detail (100-micron). I noted a slight improvement at the latter resolution, but not enough to warrant the extra time consumed in high-resolution printing, except in cases where the best print quality is paramount.

The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro did well with a test object in which a variety of geometric shapes, as well as raised text, are printed at a steep angle—nearly all of the shapes were well formed. A couple of test prints looked a bit rough-hewn, with obvious layering, but most looked decent.

The biggest selling point for the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is its spacious build volume, which allows users to print considerably larger objects than they can with most open-frame budget 3D printers. (A related downside is that this makes it larger than many competitors.) The difficulty in securing the filament feed tube was an annoyance, but once firmly in place, it should stay secured (except, perhaps, if you get the hardened-steel nozzle and frequently change extruders).

On the whole, though, the XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro’s closed frame and its PLA-centric bent are ideal for newcomers (either at home or in a classroom), while it offers enough versatility and accessories to keep intermediate users happy.

The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is a moderately priced closed-frame 3D printer with a large build volume and overall good performance, but a potentially balky filament-feeding system.

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Source: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/xyzprinting-da-vinci-jr-10-a-pro

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