da Vinci 3D Printer Brings 3D to the Masses for $499

Price and complexity are the two main reasons most people don't buy 3D printers. Why spend over a thousand dollars on a device you can't even use? Priced at just $499,  the new da Vinci 3D printer from Taiwan-based XYZprinting is a gamechanger, because of its affordable price and easy set up.

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At just under two feet by two feet by two feet, the da Vinci certainly won't go unnoticed, but it's also small enough to fit in any home. It can print objects of up to 7.8 inches x 7.8 inches x 7.8 inches in ABS plastic, one of the most common 3D printing materials. XYZprinting says the printer can achieve a resolution of up to 100 microns, or .0001 centimeters, per layer.

In the print area, the da Vinci uses a heated tray to keep the ABS flexible during the printing process but includes a door that can be closed to minimize the risk of burning one's hand.

The da Vinci connects to a PC or Mac via a USB cable and requires its own printing software. From that program, users import .stl files, the most common type of 3D modeling file, of the objects they wish to print.

Consumer 3D printers are a whole lot cheaper than they were even a year ago. But the da Vinci, XYZprinting's first 3D printer, is significantly less expensive than its peers. Gary Shu, a marketing manager at XYZprinting, told Tom's Guide that the company was able to price the da Vinci so low because its parent company, 2D printing company Kinpo group, already had much of the necessary factory settings in place.

Even the more high-end of XYZprinting's consumer offerings are still under $1000. The da Vinci 2.0 is $649, and the 2.1 is $999. Both come with a build volume of about 6 by 7.8 by 7.8 inches. That's smaller than the da Vinci, but the 2.0 and the 2.1 have two extruders, meaning they can print in two different colors at once.

The 2.1 has Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning you can send print jobs to the printer via Wi-Fi from your computer or mobile phone via an app. It has a 5-inch color touch panel, and you can also plug a USB memory stick directly into the printer itself and print files stored straight from there.

The 3 da Vinci printers still lack some of the features of their more expensive peers. The smaller 3DSystems Cube 3 and the MakerBot Replicator Mini, for example, both offer a range of apps, programs, and libraries of digital designs that help connect new users to their existing communities. However, the da Vinci has everything a new user or experienced amateur needs to start 3D printing without making a huge investment.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.