BCN3D is one of the best known and most dynamically developing 3D printer manufacturers in Europe. For several years, the company’s devices have been seen as one of the best on the market, winning a number of industry awards. Today we will look at the company’s flagship product – Sigma R19, equipped with a system of two independent print heads.
The history of BCN3D Technologies dates back to 2012, when it was established as a branch of the CIM-UPC – Technology Center of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona. Initially, the company dealt with the production and sale of its own versions of 3D printers derived in a straight line from the RepRap project. In May 2015 BCN3D presented its proprietary device called Sigma, equipped with proprietary system of two independent print heads called IDEX (Independent Dual Extrusion) and a number of other functionalities that were unique at that time (e.g. touch control panel, closed puffing system) filament, whether the work table entered in the XY axes in the format of A4 sheet).
Two years later BCN3D introduced the second version of Sigma – Sigmax, with an enlarged work area, entered in the XY axes in the A3 format: 420 x 297 x 210 mm and equipped with the possibility of 3D mirroring (more about this solution below …), so with as large work table doubled the device’s performance compared to other desktop 3D printers available on the market.
In September 2018, the latest versions of both 3D printer models – Sigma R19 and Sigmax R19 saw the light of day. Among a number of new functionalities, they received, among others new filament flow sensors that detect the moment of its blocking (either on the spool or in the head) and stop the device until the problem is solved, replaceable head system with diameters from 0.3 to 1.0 mm and the possibility of installing a cover with a HEPA filter and temperature control function inside the working chamber.
In the fall of 2019, the third and completely new BCN3D 3D printer model – Epsilon – debuted officially at Formnext Fair. In addition to the features known from the Sigma / Sigmax R19 models, the 3D printer has a working area of 42 x 30 x 40 cm and a closed (though not heated) working chamber equipped with HEPA and carbon filters.
Since autumn this year, the official distributor of BCN3D Technologies 3D printers in Poland is Global 3D, courtesy of which we have been given the opportunity to test the company’s flagship model – Sigma R19.
BCN3D Sigma R19
In terms of dimensions, the Sigma R19 gives the impression of a large, massive device, however, in reality it is relatively light and easy to set up. It has the original shape of the housing, with a characteristic indentation on the front. The housing is made of sheet metal, however the interior is lined with aesthetic and durable plastic. The vast majority of the structural elements are metal, and individual plastic details are printed on 3D printers (probably on Sigmas creating a 3D printing farm at the company’s headquarters in Barcelona).
Two independent print heads forming the mentioned IDEX system move in the XY axes, the work table in the shape and size of A4 sheet (210 × 297 mm) moves in the Z axis. From the very beginning two containers hung on the edges of the X axis are noteworthy, which collect residues filament during the printhead cleaning process.
Printheads are products of a reliable and renowned British manufacturer E3D Online – they warm up very quickly to a maximum temperature of 290°C and have the ability to exchange tips for different diameters. Extrudery is provided by Bondtech. The 3D printer is equipped with filament flow sensors – so far, I take my word because I haven’t had the opportunity to test them yet.
The interior of the working chamber of the device is highlighted in blue, which in consequence makes all the photos from the operation of the device that you see are and will be kept in a cold, icy glow.
To manage the operation of the 3D printer, a large and very clear control screen is located in the lower right corner of the device. The files are delivered either by means of an SD card or a USB cable connected directly to the computer.
Important thing! The 3D printer only works with filaments with a diameter of 2.85 mm.
- 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).
The 3D printer comes to us in a large, brown box, with the device image printed on the front.
Inside we find a set of tools and accessories, two spools of PLA material, a two-color test print in the form of a gecko and a card officially welcoming us to the family of users of 3D printers BCN3D.
A small spoon of salt – black foam, in which the device is packed, leaves a lot of small crumbs everywhere. After pulling everything out, you will need to collect them from the table …
The 3D printer itself is very solidly packed, and removing it from the box does not pose any major problems.
After removing all foils, sponges and protections, inside the working chamber I found the largest bag with a moisture agent in the history of my seven-year adventures with 3D printers …
The set with accessories and tools includes:
- two PLA spools
- power cable
- USB cable
- SD card
- filament guide tubes
- a nylon roll for cleaning the heads
- two spool holders and a set of plugs for filament guide tubes and clamps, with which we attach them to extruder cables
- manual and warranty card
- spatula (average)
- pliers (also average)
- a set of allen keys
- feeler gauge for calibrating printheads relative to the work table
- Magigoo glue.
In addition, we get the mentioned 3D-printed gecko and set of BCN3D stickers.
THE SET UP & FIRST LAUNCH
When everything is unpacked, we mount the individual components. First, we put on a table that is based on three magnets. It is a very simple and functional solution that we will often use in the future.
Then we install the filament guide tubes – slide them into the heads, and then through the holes in the housing to the extruders inside the device. Sigma R19 uses bowden extruders, i.e. installed on the housing, not directly above the print head. This solution largely means that we need to use a higher filament diameter (mentioned 2.85 mm).
When the tubes are in place, we lock them with clamps …
… and connect the pipes to the power cables and control heads.
Then insert the spool holders inside.
We insert the SD card into the slot next to the display, connect the 3D printer to the power supply and start it.
Setup Assistant greets us and guides us step by step through the initial configuration of the device. First, he asks us if we want to register the 3D printer …?
Later, he suggests loading some filaments. As I have quite a lot of stocks of filaments with a diameter of 2.85 mm, I did not open the materials sent by the manufacturer, but used my own. At the beginning I decided to start with blue PLA from Barrus and supporting, water-soluble Ultimaker PVA. In the 3D printer menu, we first select the extruder (left or right), and then the material grade.
We attach the filaments to the handles, inside the 3D printer. Unlike most desktop 3D printers, the Sigma R19 feeds material from the top of the spool. Insert it into the hole located at the bottom of the working chamber.
We move the filament until its tip reaches the extruder mounted on the back wall of the inside of the working chamber. When we achieve this, we confirm it in the 3D printer menu. The next screen warns us to remove our hands from the inside of the working chamber and confirm it. When we do this, he feeds the filament into the extruder.
When the filament reaches the printhead, we start extruding it. When the filament thread comes out of the head, the material is ready for work. Repeat the same procedure with the other print head.
The next stages are leveling the working table, printheads relative to the working table and after that relative to each other. Everything is done in a simple and intuitive way. While leveling table, the display returns information about how much we should turn the knobs located on its front (in Sigma R19 we adjust the table only with the knobs on the front of the table – there is no adjustment at the back).
When calibrating the heads against the table, we use the supplied feeler gauge.
After each calibration – whether the printheads are relative to the table or relative to each other, a test is printed. You can read more about this in one of the next articles on working with the BCN3D Sigma R19.
When everything is calibrated, the 3D printer is ready to work. Now you need to download the software. BCN3D uses CURA software, which is adapted strictly to the manufacturer’s models. The program is downloaded from the official BCN3D website and installed on your computer. After starting, in the SETTINGS tab, click PRINTER / Add Printer and choose our 3D printer model.
If you have already had the opportunity to use CURA, using the program will not cause you any problems. If not – please read the article dedicated to the version of CURA for BCN3D.
Two main differences from the default CURA version are the printhead management (similar to the way it is done in Ultimaker, but differing in nuances) and three 3D printing modes dedicated to Sigma R19:
- regular – normal, default
- mirror – the working area narrows to 1/3 of the length X; after adding the model, it is automatically duplicated in the form of a mirror image on the other edge of the table
- duplication – as above, except that the table is divided in half.
In mirror and duplication modes, heads print different objects independently.
THE FIRST PRINTS…
At the beginning I could print something simple and obvious like some 3DBenchy figure or boat, but as usual, I decided to start with something difficult – our test rotor model. The model was printed from Barrus Blue PLA and Ultimaker PVA. To speed up the work time, the model has been slightly reduced compared to the original.
As always, when printing from PVA, the work table has become a small mess, but the detail itself came out correctly.
The second element was a small skull ring, which I had already printed with supports made of building material (the same with Barrus PLA).