Ever since it was announced at IFA many have been wondering if the XYZ da Vinci Color desktop FDM-inkjet hybrid, full-color 3D printer can truly deliver in terms of quality and reliability. Can it really compete with currently available full-color technologies such as those from 3D Systems (Projet CJP), Stratasys (Connex 3 polyjet) and Mcor (paper lamination)?
This first-ever, commercially available, sub $4K full-color desktop 3D printer could really be a game changer so when XYZ invited me to see it in Milan I took the opportunity and as I flew in back from my “All of 3D Printing in 15 Mins” presentation at ZEST in Malta – even though I had not been home for a month – I took the all-electric BMWi3 from the DriveNow car-sharing service (awesome!) and drove to the open house event which was located right next to the gorgeous and now world famous “Bosco Verticale” skyscraper. There I met with Cin-Yee Sirya Ho, of New Kimpo Group, the XYZprinting marketing manager for Europe.
After seeing the machine up close, I definitely have a clearer idea of what it can do and whether or not it can compete with other color technologies. The long answer is, of course, that it really depends on what you need to do and how much you want to spend. The short answer, though, is that the machine is certainly reliable. The prototype on display was printing without interruption and looked solid. The mass produced unites are expected to be even more reliable.
The technology’s engineering is not at all simple but XYZ’s engineered worked to solve all the issues. It uses the CMYK color system with the inkjet heat printing the outer surface of each filament layer. The filament is which PLA which was chemically modified to better absorb the color. The machine is able to reproduce millions of color combinations and the quality of the color is generally very good, as is the precision of the images.
The most challenging parts are the overhangs of course and also the layering does result in some areas that are less uniform and precise. however the difference in price makes this by far the most convenient solution and also an ideal solution for many prototyping and modeling applications that do not require ultra-high precision such as that you would obtain from a $300K+ Stratasys J750. In fact the comparison with the Stratasys system is not possible in terms of quality and neither in terms of costs (not to mention that the J750 also does multi-material)
However 3D Systems and mcor may have found a potentially dangerous competitor for their full color systems.
XYZ did not stop here and is ready to launch two more potentially disruptive systems, with a €249 3D printer headed to stores in time for Christmas. Cin-Yee told me that Italy is a key market for the company with leading consumer electronic chain Media World selling as may as 50 systems per month. The new mini system might further accelerate sales as will the da Vinci color.