The $269 da Vinci Mini Could Be Your First 3D Printer

LAS VEGAS — With every CES, XYZprinting's da Vinci 3D printer seems to shrink. Last year, the company unveiled the da Vinci Junior, a $349 3D printer aimed squarely at beginners. This time around, it's rolling out the da Vinci Mini, which comes in a smaller size with an equally smaller price tag.

Measuring 15.7 x 13.2 x 14.3 inches, the da Vinci Mini is 30 percent smaller than last year's Jr. printer. It will also cost $269 when it ships by the third quarter of 2016, which XYZprinting says would make it the lowest-priced 3D printer to come fully assembled. Though it may not be as large as the da Vinci Jr., the Mini offers the same 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9-inch build space.

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If the price tag didn't hint that the da Vinci Mini is designed for home use, the printer's features drive that point home. It's available in a variety of colors — I spotted red, orange, yellow and white models on the CES show floor — and the printing area is enclosed by a protective case so that it's safe to use around kids. The da Vinci mini also takes care of calibration of the printer bed and the nozzle, so that users don't have to worry about making those kind of adjustments.

The da Vinci Jr. isn't getting ignored. XYZprinting is adding multifunction capabilities to a new model, the $549 da Vinci Jr. 3-in-1, which features 3D scanning and Wi-Fi capabilities alongside printing. Another model, the $499 da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix, has the ability to blend two colors through a dual-extruding single nozzle. The result — prints that gradually change color from the base to the tip — can be quite striking based on what I saw on the show floor. One object blended yellows and greens in a distinctive way that will appeal to 3D printing enthusiasts with an artistic bent.

The 3-in-1 version of the Jr. ships in the second quarter; the Mix follows it later in the year.

Another CES debutant underscores XYZprinting's belief that 3D printing's place is also in the home. The company is coming out with a $49 3D pen. With the press of a button, you dispense the filament that's fed into the easy-to-hold pen, forming whatever shape you want.

The idea, a spokesperson explained to me, is that XYZprinting's 3D Pen lets anyone come up with 3D projects, even without a computer or 3D modeling skills. That latter part certainly describes me, but I managed to use the pen to make some nifty-looking shapes, and I imagine this is the sort of thing that will be welcome as a craft tool in both homes and schools.

Speaking of schools, XYZprinting has developed an online curriculum program aimed at helping teachers work 3D printing into their lessons plans. The XYZ STEAM program — that takes the science, technology, engineering math elements of STEM and adds art to it — will include curricula from XYZprinting, discounted printers for schools and other tools to help students learn real-world uses for 3D printing.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.