During last year’s 3D printing shootout we tested the BCN3D Sigma and were let down by poor build quality and a system that didn’t seem fully fleshed out. Now BCN3D has come back with a 2017 revision of the Sigma, and you can tell they’ve been listening to their customers and reviewers.
MatterHackers, the U.S. reseller for the Barcelona, Spain-based company, arranged for me to test the updated machine. BCN3D has greatly improved on the one really compelling feature of the Sigma that I hoped they would: the independent dual extruder or IDEX system. While most dual extrusion systems tie two extruders together on the same carriage, IDEX uses two motors to control two separate carriages. This allows each extruder to be calibrated to each other and the bed, preventing an extruder that is lower than the other from bumping into a print and knocking it loose. When one of the extruders is not in use, it is parked over a container to collect any filament leaking from the heated extruder.
This new revision of the Sigma feels far more solid than its predecessor and boasts a newly designed hot end that can be swapped for different nozzle sizes easily. I would still love to see the base plate of the Sigma replaced with a metal panel like the rest of the machine, but the current plastic is leaps and bounds better than the previous version.
Printing on the Sigma is easy with its Cura integration and the intuitive control panel. You can tell the interface wasn’t designed for primarily English speakers, but the adaptation to English is well done and the graphics are more than enough to explain operation. Dual extrusion setup is done through Cura, and while the instructions require the extruders to be set by the model import order, newer versions of Cura will allow you to select a model and set the extruder within the program.
The prints turned out great and really clean. If I had any complaint, it would be that I would like to see nicer vertical surfaces and better stitched together top surfaces. These are both things that could be easily tweaked in the printing profiles though.
BCN3D is onto something. I really like the Sigma, and the number of improvements that can be found in this newest edition seems to indicate they are on the right path. I have a feeling we will be talking about this company for years to come.
|BCN3D Sigma 2017||BCN3D|
|Price as Tested:||$2,695|
|Bed Style:||Heated glass|
|Temperature Control?:||Yes, extruder (290°C max); bed (100ºC max)|
|Print Untethered?:||Yes (from SD card)|
|Onboard Controls?:||Yes (full color touchscreen)|
|OS:||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Firmware:||BCN Sigma Marlin variant|
|Open Software?:||Yes (GPL)|
|Open Hardware?:||Yes (CERN Open Hardware License v1.2)|