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Here's where you'll find all the latest news about technology for children. We love to follow cool new inventions on Kickstarter and we hunt out all the latest announcements about tech toys and gadgets for the coming Christmas holidays. You'll also get our take on children's technology stories in the media.

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Our kids technology product reviews are intended to help you work out whether a toy, gadget or kit is a good fit for your child or family. There's lots of cool stuff available, but is it the right choice for the child or teenager that you are buying for? We'll help you make the right choices and get the best value for money.

GIFT GUIDES$show=/search/label/gift%20guide

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends assemble. We create gift lists to help you make good choices for kids technology which helps them develop the right skills for the future. We research the best in Coding Toys and Games, Making / Craft Tools and Kits, STEM/STEAM related gifts, Programmable Robots, Electronics Kits and Gadgets for Tech Age Kids and Teens.

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STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In recent years there is an increased focus in these areas of study. We like to include Art and Design too, so we often talk about STEAM (A stands for Art). At Tech Age Kids we believe Coding is a new literacy and children need to understand how technology works, practice making skills and grow in their curiosity to make a better future for us all.

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We think it's really important for kids to get hands-on with electronics and learn how to make circuits and write code to control hardware. Younger kids can start with conductive playdough. For kids who like to combine craft and tech, littleBits are fab. And we love SAM Labs wireless electronics components for making it easy for kids to make Internet of Things inventions. Lots of electronics kits for kids have support for the Arduino microprocessor environment. The DuinoKit Jr is one of our favourites. Arduino is a fab skill for older kids and teens to develop.

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We love robots at Tech Age Kids, especially programmable ones. We've got lots of them and write reviews and projects that use them. Our programmable robots for kids buying guide is a good place to start if you're not sure what's available. Roby the mBot Meccano robot dog is one of our popular projects and has been with us to lots of events. Our Ozobot LEGO trailer is fab for kids who love LEGO and robots.

MAKING AND CRAFT$show=/search/label/making

We're advocates of the creative use of technology, but this needs to be balanced with developing physical skills such as papercraft, woodwork, clay modelling, technical drawing and soldering. If children don't develop these skills as they grow up then physical making projects can become frustrating rather than fun. The Maker Community uses the term 'making' as a broad term to include all sorts of artisan skills or craft activities. Being able to make things can lead to life-long hobbies or even careers. It's a great feeling to be able to take a project from an idea in your head to a real object that does something. We're particularly interested to explore products that combine maker skills with tech skills such as electronics but others focus purely on the physical making skills that are still important to modern making.

Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix 3D Printer Review


The Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix is a new 3D Printer from XYZ Printing. The big feature here is that it supports colour mixing of two colours to create multi-colour prints in an inexpensive printer.

One of the common questions we get when we take a 3D printer to events is 'can you print in multiple colours'. It's definitely a feature that people are interested in and while this isn't full multicolour it's a step in that direction.

Disclosure: We were sent a Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix 3D printer to review. As always our opinions are our own.

We're very familiar with the Da Vinci series of printers. We previously reviewed a Da Vinci Mini Maker and then purchased a Da Vinci Mini which we have used in lots of projects. They are not the best 3D printers out there but they do offer excellent value for money and ease of use for beginners.

Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix

The Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix is one of a range of 3D printers for beginners from XYZ Printing. 

One of the key features of this printer is the enclosed unit which makes it easier to control the environment for 3D printing (temperature, no drafts) which in our experience is very important. It's also a good safety feature especially if you have younger children around. 

The other major feature is the ability to print in 2 colours, either printing different parts of a model in different colours or blending vertically from one colour to the other. A side effect of this feature which we think might actually be even more important is that you can keep two different filament colours loaded at all times. Changing filament colour isn't hard but it does slow you down a bit. We've found that we're far more likely to print things with the children if we can use a colour that's already on the printer and keeping two filaments loaded makes this much more likely. 

Unboxing and Set up

The printer comes in a big box and includes filament to get started with. You have to remove some packaging parts from the printer itself and do a small amount of setup. After some searching, we found the extruder head in the box with the filament reels. The setup was fairly straightforward but the instructions could have been clearer.



You will need to load the filaments and calibrate the printer. This is all done from the display and controls on the printer itself and doesn't take too long. 

You'll also need the XYZWare software on a PC or Mac to drive the printer and may be prompted to update the firmware on the printer. 

If the printer is a gift then we'd recommend setting up the printer and installing the software in advance so it's ready to go on the day. 

This printer takes up quite a bit of space but the filaments are stored inside so it's quite self-contained. 

Software

You can import STL files created by lots of different 3D modelling packages (we like BlocksCAD, Microsoft 3D Builder and TinkerCAD) into XYZWare. We recommend fixing up models in Microsoft 3D Builder first as that does a great job. 

XYZWare allows you to set up colour blends on a single model in vertical layers. You can either have layers of solid colour or blend from one colour to another. it's worth taking a bit of time playing with this feature and previewing the results so that you understand how it works. It took us a bit of playing around to work it out.

Printing

You can send models to the printer via Wifi or a USB cable. If you use a cable then you don't need to keep the computer connected once the model has been transmitted. Wifi is handy if you have a computer in a different location but you are going to have to go to the 3D printer and turn it on and check that everything is ready.

We've found the da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix to be really reliable. The enclosed unit really seems to help with consistency compared to the da Vinci Mini that we normally use which can be susceptible to changes in room temperature and drafts.

The items we have printed have been great quality. 

The blending feature is neat and we feel it's something that's really handy to have for certain projects. It works and we like it, but honestly, we could manage without it. But, we love the fact that we can keep two different filaments loaded at the same time. That's actually an even better feature for us and one that we would pay extra for. The colour effects are a bonus. 

It's not a particularly fast printer but it's not bad for the price point. The ease of use is excellent. 


Proprietary Filament

Yes, this printer uses propretary filament. 3D printing experts tend to think this is awful. But it's a trade-off. It means that the results are more consistent because the printer is tuned for that filament. 

You can buy cheaper filament but actually we've found that if you look out for good deals then the XYZ da Vinci Jr filament isn't that expensive compared to good quality filament and you need to consider that you're likely to have fewer failed prints. 

Our main complaint about the proprietary filament is that the range of colours isn't big enough. There are some fab colours but not enough of them. In particular, we'd like to see more solid colours. Solid colours aren't recommended for blending but we prefer them for most single colour objects. Hopefully, the range of colours will increase in future and this won't be an issue.




Our Prints

Here are some pictures of the objects we have printed so far. We found that the sample objects that came with the software are a bit big for first prints so we scaled them down. We've tried out the blending feature first, we'll come back to printing in two discrete colours later. 

The gecko is a model from Thingiverse which we thought would look cool in red and green. The Christmas bauble also came from Thingiverse but was a little fragile in the transparent filament, it was a good test and we were impressed that the printer managed to cope with it so well. 


Verdict: Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix 3D Printer

We like this printer. If you can afford to pay a bit extra for a beginner 3D printer then this one is practical and a lot of fun. The enclosure makes printing reliable and also keeps the dust off. Being able to keep two filament colours loaded at the same time is fantastic and the two-colour modes are a lot of fun. 

If you need a cheaper beginner printer then take a look at the XYZ da Vinci mini or mini Maker which don't have an enclosure and only print in one colour.

This might just be the next 3D printer we get for our business. The enclosure and two colour feature are very practical. And we can think of lots of fun things to do with the two-colour modes that will allow us to get more creative with 3D printing. 








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Tech Age Kids | Technology for Children: Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix 3D Printer Review
Da Vinci Jr 2.0 Mix 3D Printer Review
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