BCN3D Technologies is one of the most dynamically developing companies producing 3D printers in Europe. The Spanish manufacturer took his first steps in 2012 at the Polytechnic of the University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona. Like most start-ups of this type, initially produced and sold his own versions of cheap 3D printers for self-assembly RepRap type. The breakthrough came in 2015, when the first, own design – Sigma, saw the light of day, equipped with the proprietary system of two independent printheads called IDEX (Independent Dual Extrusion).

IDEX was something that made the company stand out from the whole mass of others that debuted on the market at that time. The idea was brilliant in its simplicity – the heads were installed on independent carts and moved freely in the X axis (in the Y and Z axes they moved simultaneously). On the one hand, this allowed for more effective 3D printing from two printheads (the inactive printhead was parked on the side of the 3D printer and did not dirty the 3D print with dripping filament), and on the other, an innovative method of simultaneous 3D printing of two sets of printouts on a divided work table.

In 2017, BCN3D Technologies released an enlarged version of Sigma called Sigmax. It was the same device, only twice widened in the X axis. The original Sigma working area – 210 x 297 x 210 cm, was extended to 420 x 297 x 210 cm. This change showed the real potential of IDEX technology – the division of the work table into two parts in the X axis in DUPLICATE or MIRROR mode gave de facto the possibility of 3D printing on two standard 3D printers!

Since autumn last year we have been able to test all company models in the latest versions – Sigma R19, Sigmax R19 and Epsilon.

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In this article, we will compare the first two devices – Sigma and Sigmax and try to determine which ones to invest in, if you are looking for a new 3D printer?

Technical specifications

Sigma R19 and Sigmax R19 are almost identical in terms of technical parameters. In fact, the only thing that distinguishes them is the work area and, as a consequence, the design of individual 3D printers and the price. This is the technical specification for devices:

BCN3D Sigma R19
  • technology: FFF / FDM
  • working area: 210 x 297 x 210 mm
  • number of heads: 2
  • heads working independently on the X axis in the IDEX system
  • max head temperature: 290°C
  • filament diameter: 2.85 mm
  • supported materials: PLA / ABS / Nylon / PET-G / TPU / PVA / Composites (open material policy – the possibility of using filaments from other manufacturers)
  • work table: glass, installed on magnets
  • max table temperature: 100°C
  • layer resolution: 0.05 – 0.5 mm (depending on the diameter of the nozzle used)
  • head calibration: automatic
  • filament sensor
  • communication: SD / USB cable
  • LCD touch panel
  • chamber installation option (extra charge).
BCN3D Sigmax R19
  • technology: FFF / FDM
  • working area: 420 x 297 x 210 mm
  • number of heads: 2
  • heads working independently on the X axis in the IDEX system
  • max head temperature: 290°C
  • filament diameter: 2.85 mm
  • supported materials: PLA / ABS / Nylon / PET-G / TPU / PVA / Composites (open material policy – the possibility of using filaments from other manufacturers)
  • work table: glass, installed on magnets
  • max table temperature: 100°C
  • layer resolution: 0.05 – 0.5 mm (depending on the diameter of the nozzle used)
  • head calibration: automatic
  • filament sensor
  • communication: SD / USB cable
  • LCD touch panel
  • chamber installation option (extra charge).

Nevertheless, the work area makes the difference. 1: 0 for Sigmax …

BCN3D Sigma vs. BCN3D Sigmax
1: 0

Design

The BCN3D Sigma R19 has a characteristic housing with a notch on the sides. At first glance, the device gives the impression of being massive, but in fact it is relatively light and easy to set up. The housing is made of sheet metal, and the interior is lined with aesthetic and durable plastic. The vast majority of structural elements are metal, and individual plastic parts are printed on 3D printers – these include spool holders, filament entries or clamps for filament guide tubes.

A large touch screen has been installed at the bottom right. As I described in earlier articles, the interface with which we control the 3D printer is perfect in its simplicity – the user will easily find himself without reading the instructions (which of course is worth reading before starting the device).

In the series of articles presenting work with Sigma R19 I have quite clearly indicated that everyday work with a 3D printer does not impose too many problems – the only thing that is worth paying attention to is the calibration of the work table…

In general, the table in Sigma R19 is quite specific for desktop 3D printers – it is elongated, but in the Y axis (21 x 29.7 cm). These less than 30 cm in the axis can sometimes be problematic – if we do not carry out calibration for some time (which is very simple), during 3D printing it may turn out that e.g. from the front of the table the head is too low (the material is smeared on the surface of the table) – too high in the back… We only have two knobs on the front of the table for calibration, so if we leave the table in the front, the back will lower even further… In this situation, we must stop printing and carry out the full calibration process.

Meanwhile, the Sigmax R19 case looks different – generally there is no such problem with it. Due to the fact that the work table is much larger in the X axis, the support structure is different and more stable. We are still calibrating the table with only two knobs on the front, but it is really difficult to achieve the effect as in the case of the smaller Sigma.

The second difference between devices is the installation of the filament. At Sigma, we mount it only inside the device and drag it under the floor to the extruder on the back wall.

In Sigmax R19 we have an alternative in the form of a handle on the back wall and an external entrance to the extruder. Due to this, we shorten the path that the filament must go to the extruder – and in the event of any failure (e.g. clogging the head), the service action will be incomparably easier (trust me…). In Sigmax we can also set up much larger filament spools – in smaller Sigma only up to 1 kg.

BCN3D Sigma vs. BCN3D Sigmax
0: 2

Features

Not counting the difference in the size of the work table, in terms of features they are identical devices. However, the size of the work table is crucial here – aside from the fact that you can print large objects or a large number of smaller ones, when you start the copy or mirror mode, Sigmax becomes unrivaled. The table is divided into two parts (approx. 18 cm in the Y axis), which gives us almost two repetitions of a single Sigma table (and a much larger surface than most desktop 3D printers on the market).

What in Sigma is barely noticeable (after splitting the table we have two fragments about 8 cm wide in the Y axis), makes Sigmax a really interesting shopping item.

BCN3D Sigma vs. BCN3D Sigmax
0: 3

Price

BCN3D Technologies does not produce cheap 3D printers. Prices of R19 models are as follows:

  • BCN3D Sigma R19 = 2.475€ Excl. VAT
  • BCN3D Sigmax R19 = 3.695€ Excl. VAT

Although the smaller Sigma is over a thousand EUR cheaper than Sigmax, the verdict is not contrary to appearances. €2,4k for a two-head 3D printer is a fairly common price in this device segment – in short, this is not a special occasion. However, in the case of the Sigmax R19 it looks really good. A large workspace + two printheads + copy or mirror mode for €3,7k is really a very good option.

BCN3D Sigma vs. BCN3D Sigmax
4: 0

Verdict

The BCN3D Sigma is a really cool 3D printer, but if I had to buy without a doubt, I would buy a more expensive, but much larger and thus more functional BCN3D Sigmax. This is a very nice device for low-volume production or printing of large prototypes. When buying, you should consider an additional protective chamber.

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Paweł Ślusarczyk
CEO of 3D Printing Center. Has over 15 years' experience in buisiness, gained in IT, advertising and polygraphy. Part of 3D printing industry since 2013.

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