For a little over a month we have the pleasure to work with the latest and largest 3D printer in the offer of the Spanish manufacturer BCN3D Technologies – Epsilon. It has a large working area of 42 x 30 x 40 cm and a closed (though not heated) working chamber equipped with HEPA and carbon filters. In February, we described unboxing and the first launch of the machine, but we did not write anything about our experience from work. Today we are making up for this – in this article you will find coverage of 3D printing on Epsilon and a gallery of 3D prints we made so far.
Like every three BCN3D 3D printer models available, Epsilon is equipped with a system of two independent IDEX printheads. It allows, on the one hand, 3D printing details from two materials (building and support materials or two building materials of different colors), and on the other, divide the work table in half and print two sets of the same details (one set per printhead). In this mode of operation, with a working table surface of 40 x 30 cm, it gives us the processing power of two standard 3D printers.
For service and preparation of models for 3D printing we use CURA software in a version adapted to BCN3D devices. Unlike the smaller models – Sigma and Sigmax, Epsilon is equipped with remote internet communication. BCN3D Cloud is used for this – to be honest after the first start of the service I did not go back to it anymore… However, I will try to make up for it and describe it in subsequent articles.
As it was presented in the previous unboxing article, Epsilon is a really big machine and at the same time phenomenal in terms of design. It is very aesthetically designed and made and looks fantastic in an office environment. Unfortunately, it is also quite noisy… And it is not about the 3D printing process itself, but a fan built-in at the back of the housing, letting vapors of the printed material through carbon and HEPA filters. When we put the 3D printer somewhere in the corner of the room, this should not bother anyone, but installing it on or next to someone’s desk can end up with loud protest and the threat of immediately leaving the workplace.
Working with a 3D printer does not present major problems or challenges. When we first calibrate the work table and printheads, you won’t have to repeat it too quickly (we haven’t done it for a month and a half).
To date, the vast majority of prints have been made from PLA made by Mitsubishi Chemical which was delivered with a 3D printer and Spectrum Filaments. We also conducted individual tests with ABS and ASA – all I can say is that they just print flawless…
A handful of trivia and comments
For now, in CURA, the only profile available for Epsilon is the version with the default 0.2 mm layer. We tested the variant with a 0.3 mm layer, but the results were not as satisfactory as with the default settings. Certainly, you need to bury a little more in advanced settings (read: change something more than just the height of the layer…), and we didn’t have the necessity or need to print something on a higher layer (we are also a bit lazy and we prefer to wait for the official update of the manufacturer).
When the 3D printer prints it must have the working chamber door closed (quite obvious). If the door is opened during operation, the 3D printer pauses. This is unfortunately sometimes troublesome, because wanting to improve or change something (e.g. for large prints covering the entire surface of the table, we’d like to lift a bit of one edge to improve the adhesion of the layer to the table), we actually stop the 3D printing. It can be resumed, but experienced 3D printers know what I’m writing about – sometimes it’s worth gently adjusting something while the device is working – unfortunately in Epsilon this is not so simple.
Apparently there is a technical possibility to temporarily disable the automatic pause, however it is not available in the client firmware version.
Initially, there was another problem – when we launched the 3D print with the door to the chamber still open, the 3D print did not start (the work table did not heat up). After a recent major firmware update, the problem has been solved – now the 3D printer calls us to close the door to be able to start 3D printing.
Last but not least – there are two aluminum clamps on the front of the work table that hold the glass. Make sure they are closed on the table – we did not pay attention to it once and one of the catches caught on the container for the remnants of filament. Nothing happened – the stepper motor boxed for a while, but the trace remained…
And these are all things that happened to us during one and a half month of working with the device. In addition, it works reliably, successfully implementing 3D prints lasting 3-4 days.
Writing the article we are in the middle of the 3D printing campaign for visors for medical services fighting the pandemic COVID-19 and BCN3D Epsilon plays a key role in it (thanks to the copy mode it is able to print 8 sets a day in very good quality). When it is finished, we will start testing engineering grade materials – ABS, ASA, PA6, PETG and their composites (doped with carbon and glass fiber).
Housing for a special communicator for the disabled person
BCN3D Epsilon and Sigmax were also involved in a special project, which we may one day write about… A group of volunteers led by Ernest Kruszewski, has been implementing a special messenger project for several years for a very sick and disabled person who, despite her health problems, is fighting adversities fate. We made a set of elements for the prototype housing – what we present in the pictures is an early draft – ultimately the elements will be color-consistent. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to use the full possibilities offered by Epsioln and Sigmax.