Because I was unsatisfied with my X-Bot 3D printer, I was looking for a new model. A computer magazine that I trust tested the Dremel Idea Builder ,and they wrote that this machine has one of the best print quality they ever saw in this price range. So I was about to buy this machine. Searching the internet for a dealer with a good price I became aware of the da Vinci Pro. Before da Vinci Pro, I never thought about buying an XYZ printer because they could only print the expensive XYZ filament. But this changes with this machine. So I was torn between the da Vinci Pro and the Dremel Idea Builder. Well, finally I made the decision for the da Vinci Pro because of it’s lower price (700 EUR vs 1000 EUR).
For this review, I skip the “unpacking” part. In my opinion those “unpacking” reports are not very useful, and my printer was delivered with two pages of instructions how to unpack the da Vinci Pro and remove all the securing parts.
As written above I have some experience with the X-Bot printer from reprap.cc, so I will compare these two machines from time to time in this article. Both are in the same price range (700 EUR for the da Vinci Pro, 750 EUR for the X-Bot).
XYZ Ware Pro
After unpacking and loading the filament (my printer was shipped with ABS, but I started with PLA) as described in the instructions, I downloaded the software from xyzprinting.com. The first little disappointment came because I have to create a (free) account and register with my email address. The “XYZware for Pro” is only available for Windows and MAC. Repetier-Host, the software for the X-Bot and all reprap based printers, is available for Windwos, MAC and Linux. So Linux only users can’t use this machine. After software installation I connected the printer via USB cable and launched XYZware. At the first start, XYZware detected that there is a newer firmware for my printer and asked to update it. I confirmed that, but it did not work at this time. So I clicked the “?” in the tool bar and started the firmware update from there.
Once the firmware update was done, I set up the integrated W-LAN. W-LAN is a very nice feature, because you have more freedom to choose a place for the printer. It does not necessarily has to stay in the range of your USB cable. But also this procedure was a little bit of pain. I had to repeat the steps three times before it finally worked. XYZware is sometimes a little bit slow. A click on a button does not immediately perform an action. But then the W-LAN worked reliable and I don’t have had any issues with that any more.
Compared with Repetier-Host, there is much room for improvement for XYZware. First thing is that I was not able to change the language, so all my screenshots are in German language, which was automatically installed on my system. The second, very annoying thing has to do with the printer settings. If one loads a 3D object and press the print button, a dialogue opens with printer settings – so far, so good. If you finished the dialogue, but do not start printing then there is no chance to get this dialogue back. Pressing the print button again starts printing without showing the dialogue again. The only solution I know is to load the object again and press the print button then.
After loading a 3D model (stl and proprietary 3w are supported) the object is placed on the build platform. One can now move, rotate and scale the object.
Print Bed Adjustment
It is very important (for every 3D printer) that the levelness of the print bed is perfect. On my X-Bot I had to do this completely manually. I had to move the print bed to the top position and then move the print head using the Repetier-Host software to the measurement points. Then I had to push a piece of paper between the print bed and the print head and adjust the height of the print bed so that the sheet still could be moved. I know that there are many people out there who have no problem to achieve a perfect levelness this way, I’m not one of them.
Here the da Vinci Pro has a big improvement. The process is very convenience and straight forward compared to the method for the X-Bot.
In the printer menu select Utilities -> Calibrate. The printer starts heating the print head and print bed to the temperatures that are stored in the device. Then it automatically moves the print head to the 4 measuring points and detects the difference in levelness.
After finishing measurement, the screen shows some calibration hints. There are three knobs to adjust the levelness. For each knob a message is shown saying in which direction and how many steps a knob has to be turned. If finished the printer does the calibration procedure again. In most cases it says that levelness is perfect now. If not, follow again the instructions and turn the knobs in the demanded direction. I did this before my first print, and use this calibration since 10 prints with no need to repeat. However, if a printed object is very difficult to loosen and you need much force to do so, it might be necessary to repeat this step. I also repeat this every time I changed the painter tape on the print bed.
After calibration and placing the object, a click on the print button opens the printer settings dialogue. Because the reason for me to buy this 3D printer was that I can use third party filament, I started my first attempt with PLA that I bought for 14 EUR / kg
As you can see here, the da Vinci Pro does not detect a cassette with XYZ filament. Also new for XYZ printers is that one can change the Nozzle and print bed temperature.
The next page of the printer dialogue let one specify the the Z-resolution. 0.05 to 0.4mm is possible. Until today I tested only 0.15, 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4mm. One can also specify the fill level and type. For my front plate I choose 100%, because the object is only 2mm thick.
The speed Tab has nine values that one can change. My first print of my front panel was made with 0.3mm Z resolution and the default speed values above. The printing took approx. one hour. That is not very fast. My X-Bot was twice as fast. I did a second attempt changing all 15mm/s values to 30mm/s. The print then took 45 minutes. In the third attempt I use a higher Z-resolution (0.2mm) and again use the default speed values. This took 1 hour 15 minutes.
If you have a thin, high object it is necessary to print a border around the object. The width can be adjusted here and you can choose if you need a raft. For support material there is a combo box to choose different options, but this box is greyed out, so you can only choose if you want supporting structures or not.
The da Vinci Pro has no SD card, but for printing it is not necessary to have the computer running the whole time. After clicking the print button, XYZ Ware slices the object and send the data wireless to the printer. Once the printing data is submitted, the computer can be turned off, the printer is working without the computer now.
A big thumb up for the reliability. Only my very first print failed. The reason was that I directly printed on the print bed. It seems that in this case the print bed is to low. Then I added regular painter tape and from then, all prints are usable. Because the painter tape has a little rough surface, I also add Kapton tape above the painter tape. I have used this “construction” for 10 prints now, without the need to replace it. However, some not so far day I have to repeat this.
With my X-Bot I could never achieve this reliability. For me, approx. every third print failed with the X-Bot and I had a massive “stringing” problem. Biggest problem with the X-Bot was the filament feeder. It happens very often that the gear wheel of the feeder turns by and the print was unusable then. With the da Vinci Pro I never had a problem like this.
I think the printing quality is OK for a printer in this price range, but I can understand if if one expected more. Since I have only the X-Bot to compare, I can say that the quality is nearly the same for both machines, but the X-Bot is faster (but much less reliable). The following pictures show some front panels which are intended for installation of a housing. Printing panels might not be the optimal use case for a 3D printer, but here they can show what they can (and what not).
The following panels were printed on end and not flat as the others. To do this the da Vinci Pro has to print support material. The pictures are taken after removing the support material and the border. Because the panel was printed on end, both sides of the object look alike.
I changed the filament and use Synergie 21 now. It costs more but with 25 EUR incl. VAT per kg still not expensive. I also removed the Kapton Tape and use painters tape only. The following print was made at 210°C and 55°C print bed temperature. The pictures were taken right after the print, without any post processing steps. This is a quality I can live with.
And here the same settings but doubled Speed parameters (30mm/s instead of 15mm/s). Although the speed was doubled, the overall printing time reduces only 20 minutes.
And this is the final Prototype:
My front panel was designed with the dimensions of 103 x 53 mm, and the printed object has exactly this dimensions. But for some reason the breakthroughs for the components are a little bit smaller as designed in the CAD Software. The big breakthroughs left and right should be 24,5mm, but in the printed object they are 23,5mm.
The da Vinci Pro is a 3D printer for beginners and people who can live with the low speed if the quality should be acceptable. Of course we want both, quality combined with printing speed, but that is not possible for 700 EUR (at least not with the da Vinci Pro). I am amazed about the reliability. At the time writing this I printed 20 objects an none of them failed. And I really like the print bed levelling procedure. The fact that XYZ Printing allows us to use third party filament with this device makes it an interesting machine.
- Simple, half automatic print bed levelling
- very reliable
- Heated print bed
- WLAN connectivity
- Can print ABS and PLA
- Low price
- Print Quality not optimal (see the pictures and decice for yourself)
- Low speed
- Desktop Software