In our articles describing work with the Spanish BCN3D Sigma R19 3D printer, I emphasize the advantages of the work system using two independent IDEX print heads at every opportunity. In the previous article I presented a unique and extremely simple method of calibrating them – now we will look at two functionalities that make perfect use of IDEX’s properties – 3D printing in copy and mirror modes.

BCN3D uses CURA software adapted to the specific needs of the Spanish manufacturer. At first glance, the BCN3D version is distinguished primarily by the color of the interface maintained in dark colors, however, there are more functional changes. In the right panel where we set 3D printing options, we have the “Print mode” item. After clicking it, three options appear:

  • Regular – standard operation mode using one or two printheads
  • Mirror – mirroring mode, i.e. 3D printing of two sets of 3D prints being their reflection
  • Duplication – copy mode, i.e. 3D printing of two sets of prints arranged in parallel to each other.

The choice of a specific mode causes a specific division of the 3D printer working area – the mirror mode is three centimeters narrower in the X axis from the duplication mode:


From now on, we can only place models on the active part of the work table – they will be immediately duplicated on the other (this applies, of course, to both modes of operation):

Work in these modes consists in the fact that one printhead prints a set of details on one side and the other printhead prints the copy on the other. The heads do not interfere with each other – working in modes is safe for a 3D printer – the only consequence is a reduction of the working area on the table. In both printheads, we can assume theoretically different materials – in the examples presented, PLA filaments were installed in the heads. Printing from various types of materials is possible, but it is worth finding a logical reason (only the table temperature will be common, which in the case of PLA and ABS may prove quite problematic; ABS is printed on a table at 85-100°C, while PLA 0-70 ° C) …?

BCN3D does not allow printing sets of two different details – only their multiplication. Thus, 3D printing of two sets of the same details from two different types of filaments does not seem to be something often used? Nevertheless, we will try to do this in one of the next articles in this series.

To print in one of the described modes, we must have a well-calibrated table. What happens if, despite our most sincere intentions, the heads are not at the same height? First of all, a 3D printer will inform us about it before starting work:

The above message informs that the right head is lowered by 0.1 mm (one layer height) relative to the left. BCN3D recommends using special shims for printheads – they look like this:

Or allows 3D printing with compensation. It consists in the fact that first the first layer of the model is printed from the “lowered” head, and only then the work of both heads is started simultaneously. We will return to the issue of pads in the future, for now I have started printing with the option of compensation:

Both heads print details at the same time, except that the right printhead has already printed the first layer – the left head is just starting to work. This is what a 3D printer looks like:

These are the finished 3D prints printed in each mode:

DUPLICATION MODE (model – watch stand)

MIRROR MODE (model – vice elements)

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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