The Evolution of the BCN3D HotEnd
“(BCN3D)’s unusual business proposition of half 3D printing products and half 3D printing education (stemming from their close association with academic courses and university research labs) could lower the entry barrier for those uninitiated in 3D technologies, and could create a much wider pool of certified and skilled 3D printing users.” - 3DPrintingIndustry.com
BCN3D’s Background - A European 3D Printing Stronghold
Fundació CIM is an experienced Technological Center of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Located in the Technological Park of Barcelona, they specialize in a host of advanced manufacturing processes, including: Rapid Manufacturing, Rapid Prototyping, Additive Manufacturing 3D Printing, Stereolithography (SLA), Sintering Selective Laser (SLS) and more. BCN3D Technologies (BCN3D) is a division of the Fundació CIM specializing in additive manufacturing first beginning its operations back in 2012.
Today, Barcelona based BCN3D Technologies are a popular Desktop 3D Printer manufacturer. Their hugely successful Sigma printer not only boasts a massive printing volume of 420x297x210mm but is set up for dual extrusion straight out of the box, truly allowing users to print whatever they desire right away. For less experienced makers, dual extrusion has never been more accessible.
But that’s not all, BCN3D Technologies also sell a selection of other technical products: an industrial 3D printer (the Lux), an industrial laser cutter (The Ignis), and the increasingly common 'engineering-focused' filaments including TPU, PET-G and Nylon. They have also released their own edition of the open source slicer ‘Cura’. It goes without saying that BCN3D are advocates of RepRap’s Open Source mentality.
In Search of Perfection
As with all successful companies, to keep up with a fast-changing industry BCN3D are not afraid to question their own work and are always seeking to develop their printers further. Although the Sigma R17 was a beautifully designed, top selling, high quality 3D printer, it wasn’t entirely perfect.
For example, one issue noted by Sigma users was that recently used extruders could continue to push out a small amount of filament when not in use. Although this usually had very little effect on a print, this oozing (a ubiquitous problem with hot-end optimisation, which keeps our engineering team busy) could sabotage an entire print if dropped in the wrong place.
The Ultimate HotEnd Solution
When designing the R19 iteration of the Sigma (& Sigmax), BCN3D approached E3D to help them design an ultimately superior HotEnd with greater functionality. After a lengthy chat (and a cup of tea), it became clearer what BCN3D sought from us:
‘A HotEnd operating on a par with the high performance and reliability standards achieved by E3D’s V6; but retaining the same mounting as previous HotEnds to ensure reverse compatibility with the rest of BCN3D’s range of printers’.
What Was Delivered
In just a few months, E3D had fully designed a brand new derivative of the V6, built exclusively for BCN3D Printers. The ‘BCN3D HotEnd’ mirrors the V6’s internal nozzle and heatbreak geometries, but has a different shape, heatsink and mounting.
“The improved HotEnds include the machining and engineering know-how acquired by E3D, which ensure the highest quality standards, providing a smooth and reliable extrusion under different printing environments.” - BCN3D Technologies
One of the key features BCN3D sought out of the new HotEnd was reliability, which was achieved through thorough and deep torture testing. Many hours of tests, and miles* (* or kilometers - select your preference :p) of printed filament ensured that the HotEnd retained its strong performance over the long term. With BCN3D satisfied with the results, E3D then scaled up the assembly process for production.
An Ongoing Partnership
As of mid-2018, all new BCN3D HotEnds are being assembled in-house at E3D in the UK, continuing the lengthy yet impeccable quality control and production standards.
“We’ve partnered together with top world manufacturers such as E3D and Bondtech in order to equip our 3D printers with the top-grade components available nowadays in the 3D printing industry,” Xavier Martinez, CEO of BCN3D Technologies.
E3D used the same high-precision machining used for the V6’s production to create the BCN3D HotEnd. During production, each individual HotEnd is rigorously tested and then hot tightened by E3D. E3D use their own custom built assembly equipment to semi-automate the assembly process and conduct quality control to ensure every HotEnd performs to the same high standard.
This assembly process means that E3D’s production output is completely unphased by the rigorous quality control: should demand increase, E3D will deliver any volumes required.
A Continued Partnership …
E3D love what BCN3D are doing for the industry and look forward to continuing this partnership. Multi extrusion printing has always been an E3D passion and we fully understand how frustrating it can be to get working. Anything which simplifies this process and makes it more accessible for future makers is fantastic, and we are delighted to be one of the cogs that helps this process turn.
If you want to upgrade your own Sigma/Sigmax then you can do so here.