Like more expensive printers, the da Vinci Pro has a heated print bed, which helps objects adhere to it and not warp. The aluminum print bed allows for faster heating.
Unfortunately, XYZprinting has had trouble producing print beds that allow users to easily detach printed objects -- they stick too tightly. The Pro is no different. To alleviate this, XYZprinting recommends using masking tape over the print bed surface -- they will even sell you square sheets of masking tape for that purpose. While that's not unusual, MakerBot also recommends using tape with its 3D printers -- I'm still hopeful that someday XYZprinting will upgrade its print bed to a glass or even a replaceable polyetherimide (PEI) bed, which is a common material used in 3D printers.
One particularly cool feature on the Pro is that you can change out the 3D printer head for a laser engraver ($199), which is able to emboss objects up to sizes of 5.9 x 5.9 in. I didn't receive a laser engraver with my review unit, so unfortunately I was unable to test that function.
To change over from the polymer extruder head to the laser engraver, a user simply flips the quick release lever; the engraver head then clicks into the same place and the software allows you to correctly position the head for engraving.
The laser engraver can emboss paper, cardboard, foam, leather, and wood. There are options for different engraving speeds and adjustable levels for use on thicker materials.
My standard test for all 3D printers is to make a 6-in. model of the Eiffel Tower; its intricate lattice work is a good test of any machine's abilities. In this task, the da Vinci Pro failed miserably. Simply put, it was unable to complete the task and wound up printing me a bird's nest of filament.
For my second test, I chose something simpler: an octopus with a radius of about 5-in. The printer took nearly three hours to complete the task, and it produced an average-looking piece. The octopus's body and skin surface was nowhere near as rounded, refined or smooth as other printers have produced, but it did complete the task.
Next, I set myself to creating the body of a flying drone, which consisted of 11 pieces. The da Vinci Pro completed the task in about 18 hours. I was able to combine similar pieces of the drone in a single print, which cut down on the total print time.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.