Manufacturers of desktop 3D printers, trying to meet the requirements of industrial customers, have for some time been focusing their activities in the field of materials, adapting their devices to work with demanding engineering plastics. Equally important is also the openness of the ecosystem and enabling the user to work freely with a wide range of filaments, which need not necessarily be produced and supplied by the manufacturer of the 3D printer.

BCN3D – Spanish manufacturer of the Sigma and Epsilion 3D printers, perfectly understands these expectations. On the company’s devices you can use both a very wide spectrum of filaments, and easily create own profiles for even the most unusual materials. An example would be e.g. the innovative ceramic filament described last year, developed by the Polish manufacturer – Spectrum Filaments, which was tested on BCN3D devices. Before we get to the tests of such specialized materials, we will start with the more common and popular ones – ABS and nylon.

The 3D printer was made available to us for testing by Global 3D – an authorized distributor of BCN3D devices in Poland. Until now, we have already described its unboxing and first launch, and we presented two tutorials describing the calibration of the work table relative to independent print heads, 3D printing in copy and mirroring mode, and work with CURA software, adapted strictly to the devices of the Spanish manufacturer. Today we will describe the effects of working with engineering materials.

The 3D printer uses filaments with a diameter of 2.85 mm – this is due to the fact that it uses bowden extruders, which are installed on the device housing. The printheads are independent – they work in the IDEX system, which has been described many times in our previous articles. The method of installing filaments has been described in detail in one of the previous articles of the cycle – on the display of the 3D printer we just need to choose the filament type which we intend to load into it. The head temperature will be automatically adjusted to the grade (245°C for ABS and 255°C for nylon).

We used three Dutch Ultimaker filaments for testing: green and white ABS and black nylon. This type of filaments has a higher shrinkage by default than in the case of PLA, which is why the manufacturer recommends using dedicated covers on the top and front of the device.

We decided to try testing the filaments without a cover, assuming that if we achieve something positive, the more it will be possible with an additional heat cover.

At the beginning, we printed a few details included in the design of the 5-speed gearbox for the Toyota 22RE engine. We used green ABS on the following settings:

  • printhead temperature: 245°C
  • print table temperature: 95°C (surface covered with NeedIT glue)
  • working mode: draft
  • layer height: 0.3 mm
  • infill: 40%
  • default support structures.

The project was prepared on the CURA software in a dedicated version for BCN3D.

Printouts came out without any problem, although draft mode and 0.3 mm layer ruled out the high aesthetics of the details themselves.

The next wo elements from the same set of 3D models were made in the highest mode of operation: fine, on a layer of 0.1 mm. Of course, the difference in quality was immediately apparent.

However, what was most important was the absolute lack of any problems with the shrinkage of the material – deformations or cracks on its surface.

Another detail printed in white ABS is the door to the safe model. The printout was made on the same settings as the above two models, but using a second printhead. The effects were just as good – no shrinkage and deformation despite the unfavorable geometry (large and flat surface).

Finally, I used the remnants of filament to print this cat (according to the author of the design is the famous Shredinger’s Cat) using the two-color 3D printing option using the IDEX function. The printout came out perfectly.

Assuming that tests with ABS came out correctly, we proceeded to 3D printing from nylon. Here, unfortunately, we encountered two problems… The first was that we did not take to heart the suggestions from my recent article on the preparation of filaments characterized by high hygroscopicity – i.e., e.g. nylon. The material that lay on the shelf for almost two years was simply put on a 3D printer, which unfortunately caused problems with its proper flow. The first test prints simply did not come out and were interrupted during work…

The second problem concerned the shrinkage. Another detail of the housing deformed in the base and we decided that further testing of this filament will only make sense with the cover above building area (and after drying the filament). However, this does not change the fact that, e.g. the surface of the walls themselves turned out perfectly.

To sum up, the BCN3D Sigma R19 is perfect for working with PLA and ABS – thus we can assume that it can also handle PETG or HIPS (we will try to check it in the tests of the next 3D printers of the manufacturer). When it comes to nylon, everything indicates that the correct effects will be obtained only after installing the chamber separating the 3D prints from external conditions.

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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