Top positive review
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I Love This Thing...
on March 5, 2016
I bought a DaVinci Jr as my first 3D printer after much deliberation. What ultimately swayed me was the price, and the fact that most of the more recent reviews were on the positive side of the spectrum.
I'm extremely happy with my purchase. Nearly 250 hours of printing and about 800 meters of filament into my journey with this printer, I can honestly say that I'm impressed with the quality for the price.
Let me get to some of my feelings about the printer.
1. This printer only prints PLA, and I'm okay with that. I had thought long and hard about the potential need for printing in ABS, and ultimately I decided that I didn't really want my hobby room smelling of melted plastic all the time...and the PLA doesn't really smell like anything to me...if anything, it smells mildly sweet and isn't at all unpleasant.
2. This printer is advertised as being "no calibration necessary." I found that to be far from accurate. When I received the printer, I needed to adjust the Z-offset (the height of the printing nozzle from the print bed) by nearly .5mm. That's a VERY large adjustment for something like this...without doing that, the printer would basically just kind of spit plastic all over the place when it was trying to put down it's first layer. That's not that big of a deal, XYZ has a video on their site that shows you how to do this. It's simple to do and doesn't take very long. I would highly recommend you take a look at this adjustment on your printer when you first set it up just to make sure that it's set correctly.
To go along with this, I had problems with the printer making circles when I first got it. Long story short, it wasn't printing circles at all...it was printing things that looked more like footballs or lemons...they'd have two very clear points at opposite ends of them...one at about 10 o'clock and one at about 4 o'clock. I contacted XYZ regarding this and actually got a response right away...they told me to check the z-offset and make sure that the bed was level. There's a video on their site that shows how to do this, and it was fairly easy...once I had a T10 driver to loosen and tighten the hardware. This, however, didn't do much to fix the problem. I ended up looking around online and finding some information about bad circles typically meaning loose belts on the x and y axis.
Tightening the x-axis was easy...you just loosen the bolt holding the whole assembly in place and put some pressure on the piece as you tighten the bolt back down. The x-axis belt was very easy to get tighter. One thing to keep in mind, there is a spring on this assembly that APPEARS as if it's there to provide tension on the belt...but it's not...it's actually a mechanism to make the entire thing easier to assemble at the factory. Basically, that spring just holds the parts in place while the whole thing is assembled...so, don't just assume that because there is a spring there it's going to be providing enough tension to keep the belt tight.
The y-axis was a bit more tricky...but easy once you know how to do it. First, you must remove the four bolts holding the glass print bed in place. After these are removed, you must then remove the three bolts holding the entire print bed assembly in place. Once these are out, you can take the print bed off...and under that you can easily remove the cover that covers the y-axis belt and gears...it's just held in place by some clips...push them in and the whole thing will pop up. Once that was done, I was quickly able to notice that my y-axis belt was EXTREMELY loose. At the BACK of the machine, there is an assembly very similar to the one that holds the x-axis in place. It's difficult to see, but you can do it without removing any of the case...but you need to get back there and loosen the bolt and push this assembly towards the BACK while tightening in order to get the y-axis belt tight.
Once I had done these things, the printer now prints perfect circles...and it also printed other things just better.
Basically, the printer isn't really "calibration free." You need to do some work to get it set up correctly, and once that is done you'll end up with a very good quality printer that works very well and is relatively frustration free. I really believe that XYZ should drop the "No Calibration" advertisements and switch that up to "Easy Calibration and Setup" and I think they'd end up with a lot less unhappy customers.
Personally, I viewed going into this as a hobby that was going to require some tinkering...and as such I wasn't really too concerned about the fact that the printer needed more setup than it was advertised as requiring.
3. Make sure you follow the instructions for things like loading and unloading filament. I ended up with a pretty nasty clog in my print nozzle because I was unloading filament incorrectly. Basically, I was just selecting the unload filament option, then just kind of yanking it out of the printer. This ends up being the BAD way to do this, as it doesn't really clear out the nozzle and can end up causing some blockage in the nozzle. So, learn from my mistakes and have patience and make sure you're doing it according to the instructions, and you'll end up with no issues.
4. A lot of people have a problem with the "DRM" style filament. I personally don't. I find the DaVinci filament to be reasonably priced, and I've printed a TON of stuff with one roll of filament. One thing to keep in mind, when you get done with a roll there WILL be filament left on the roll, even though the NFC chip is telling the machine the filament is empty. I've been able to determine that what is happening is DaVinci is actually putting MORE than the 200m of filament on the spool...as they take into account the fact that you'll be switching colors and such...so they give you some extra to cover the fact that some of the filament will be used up when doing that.
Again, I don't really have a problem with the DRM style of selling model...it seems that more and more things these days are going in this direction...however, I completely understand the people who are turned off by this, as you CAN get better value in filament when going with third party products...and there are more colors and things like that.
5. This is going to be my only real complaint regarding the machine...but it's one that I'm not letting impact my score of it because I knew this going in. I would really like the machine to have a heated print bed. I've been able to get around it by using 3M Blue Painter's Tape and some Elmer's School Gluesticks, but ultimately I think I would like to have a heated bed moving forward. Again, I can't fault the machine for this because I KNEW going in that I wasn't going to have a heated bed...but it would be nice to have an accessory option or something like that where you could add one at a later date if you needed to.
With that said, I've had VERY FEW prints end up getting messed up or not working because of the fact that they didn't stick to the bed. For things that have very small bases it's very easy to just print with a raft and use the tape and glue and then you don't have to worry about it not sticking correctly.
I just feel that eventually I'm going to really want a heated bed...but, I'll probably end up worrying about that when I move to a new machine...
6. The XYZ slicing software can, at times, be a bit odd. It will do things that just don't make sense, and some things that I know slice fine with other software seem to not want to slice at all on the XYZWare. It's not really a big deal, as I've only run into ONE item that simply wouldn't print because it wouldn't slice well...and I'll be saving that item to try to print later on down the road when I've grown in the hobby and maybe moved up to a much more expensive printer.
In closing, know going in that you're going to need to do some setup work, and if you know that you'll be armed with the knowledge you need to really enjoy this printer. Had I gone in and just started printing without trying any of the setup options, I feel that I would have been disappointed in the quality...however, I knew that this is a HOBBY...and a relatively new one at that...so I went in prepared to do some setup work on my own, and I feel that with that in mind I'm EXTREMELY satisfied with the printer.
A quick note about myself...I have ZERO clue how to actually model 3D things. I simply get my files from Thingiverse and print things that other, much more talented individuals, have take the time to design and create. So, even if you don't know how to create things on a computer, you can still use and have fun with a 3D printer.
I'm including SEVERAL pictures of things I've printed...and these are just a very small sample. They range from a T-rex skeleton, to several miniature GI Joe vehicles (models of the toys from the 80s), to a 1:1 scale replica of the Holy Grail from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," to a robot clock that is put together from many different printed pieces.
Overall, I HIGHLY recommend this as a first printer.