So today marks a special day in BCN3D’s calendar as with TCT starting tomorrow the company from Barcelona has unveiled not only a new version of the popular Sigma dual extruder 3D printer but also a bunch of upgrades to go along with the product.
So, full disclosure. I feel that I am somewhat and authority to comment on the BCN3D products as I have owned an R16 an R17 and am also the admin of the Facebook mod group a moderator on the owners and lovers group. That doesn’t mean I’ll gush about it with a particularly positive bias as I have had my share of issues (many that have been remedied) but you should know that I’m not just reporting on this blind, or without any bias.
During my time of Sigma ownership I embarked upon a number of modifications, and as I saw them improvements to the product.
One very obvious and common upgrade is the popular Bondtech extruder upgrade as supplied by Emvio Engineering.
For those who don’t know, Bondtech extruders feature geared toothed cogs on both sides of the filament with a spring-loaded quick-release extruder design that makes grinding very difficult if not impossible.
Typically these Bondtech extruders are added to the outside of the machine for additional space.
So with the launch of the Sigma X one of the notable changes and improvements is the addition of stock Bondtech extruders.
This is equally as interesting because not only does it show that BCN3D are aware of improvements being done by the scene, but this week was also the unveiling of the new popular Prusa 3D printer which also features Bondtech extruders as standard. Martin is having a very good year clearly.
Another addition to the Sigmax is the inclusion of a formed enclosure made from plexiglass with its own HEPA filter.
We knew an enclosure was at least being considered as Roger had shared photos of (another popular mod) an enclosure in the lab using an 15 unit network storage cabinet.
The new official enclosure is similar to that found on the popular FlashForge Creator pro with a trapezeoid plexiglass top and shaped door to allow the front to be accessed separately to removing the entire plexiglass top.
Of course the main and key change with the Sigmax when compared to the Sigma R17 and R16 is the additional build space supplied by an extra-wide build plate hence the X in the name signifying the x-axis where the improvements have been made.
With an overall X dimension now of 420 mm, no longer can you say that a compromise is being made with the Sigma because of the IDEX extruders and their necessary bins hanging from the side.
To support the additional build space BCN3D have also been working on a long overdue update to the official Sigma version of Cura, this time in a handsome dark grey themed package.
In addition to just supporting all of the new features have been made available with the numerous releases of the official Ultimaker-owned Cura product the new BCN3D Sigma version also supports advanced features such as ditto printing and mirror printing to allow both extruders to be utilised on the extra-wide bed, to print to product at the same time, something that previously had been reserved for IDEX printers such as the Colorfabb Stacker and the Leapfrog.
So in addition to the improved extruder design and the enclosure and software, overall the Sigma appears to be the same mechanically as before albeit with an extra-wide bed.
The appearance of the bed shows that its construction is effectively two of the previous beds side-by-side supported by a single aluminium shelf supported by two guide rails and the typical lead screw design at the rear. The glass resembles two of the previous glass beds, even with magnets in the same place but they’re obviously a single piece.
One issue with the R16 & R17 was that due to the shape of the bed being long and thin supported by one of its thin sides, is that it lent itself to Z wobble due to the movement generated through Z hopping and Z linear movement.
By making the bed extra-wide and supporting it more equally along its wider side this should make the bed a little better supported this is certainly something I will aim to test when I see the machine first hand at the TCT exhibition on Wednesday (BCN3D will be there Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday).
The new improved Sigmax is anything but cheap at €3700, it is very much a premium machine adding €1300 to the price of the original.
This does not include the enclosure but it certainly does include the Bondtech extruders, something which would have cost you the princely sum of £300 before.
These upgrades and innovations making use of the already unique hardware design to give advanced new features show that BCN3D are dedicated to improving the products already out there with further support through software and hardware upgrades to leave consumers that have the older version of the printer with plenty of options for hardware upgrades and access to a full range of features.
Hopefully the new version doesn’t create additional issues though. One such considerations would obviously be the stability and performance of that X axis linear rail due to the now incredibly wide expanse that it has to support not just one but two simultaneously moving extruders.
While the enclosure is obviously a welcomed addition for allowing the heat bed to reach higher temperatures, previously temperatures such as hundred degrees standard for ABS were nearly impossible with the open design. Roger from BCN3D has informed me that the new printer has 2x power supplies to deliver additional power the the beds.
Another factor is the addition of those temperatures within an enclosure and that they do not cause problems for the electronics, mechanical extruders and components such as the Nema motors and circuitry and also the filament which is contained within the body (and quite likely has a glass transition temperature around those ambient air temperatures).
Certainly an interesting addition to the 3D printing world and the only ultra-wide 3D printer I’m currently aware of as everybody else seems to favour extra large proportions along the Z axis.
I’ll be sure to take a look at this printer at one of the two stands it features at the TCT show (BCN3D and HAWK3D) and report back my findings.
The official PR can be found here: https://www.bcn3dtechnologies.com/en/bcn3d-sigmax-unveiled/