Open source

BCN3D renews commitment to open source releasing files for Sigma & Sigmax R19 3D printers

Barcelona desktop 3D printer manufacturer BCN3D has released the original design files for its Sigma and Sigmax R19 machines. Proving its commitment to the open source philosophy the company was founded upon, the files allow others to benefit from the developments in the R19 project. The move is part of an initiative at BCN3D to release all of the files for both the software and hardware sides of its 3D printers as it has done previously with the Sigma and Sigmax Original.

Releasing the news into the community, BCN3D asked RepRap pioneer Richard Horne, better known as RichRap, for his input. Deemed a “step beyond” the usual release of machine CAD files by the open source advocate, Horne says ““This release of the Sigma R19 and the Sigmax R19 source files also comes [with] an even greater gift to the open source hardware community, this being the inclusion of the designs and information that BCN3D use to manufacture, test and assemble all aspects of the machine during production.”

“With this level of commitment to the open source hardware movement,” Horne adds, “it allows others to learn and further benefit from the R19 project and it’s journey from design to stable production 3D printers.”

The Sigma and Sigmax R19 3D printers. Photo via BCN3D Technologies.
The Sigma and Sigmax Photo via BCN3D Technologies.

A “connected ecosystem” for the open source 3D printing community

BCN3D Technologies was founded in 2011 and, like many established FFF 3D printer manufacturers, has its roots firmly in the RepRap “self-replicating machine” project established by Dr. Adrian Bowyer in 2008.

Released in the 10th anniversary year of RepRap, the BCN3D Sigma and Sigmax R19 are the company’s latest 3D printers. Both machines are equipped with the latest IDEX architecture enabling multi-material parts, dual-IDEX, part duplication and mirror modes. The Sigma R19 being is the smallest of the two operating a build volume of 210mm x 297mm x 210mm, and the Sigmax R19 has the large build of 420mm x 297mm x 210mm. Sigma and Sigmax R19 extruders are powered by Bondtech hardened steel drive gears and hotends optimized by award-winning OEM E3D Online. Other components inside the systems include a sensor to detect filament shortage.

IDEX architecture for the Sigma and Sigmax R19 3D printers. Photo via BCN3D
IDEX architecture for the Sigma and Sigmax R19 3D printers. Photo via BCN3D

The newly released source files for the R19 range cover five ares fundamental to the 3D printers’ construction and operation. Hosted by BCN3D on GitHub, this includes documentation for:

– Mechanics
– Electronics
– Firmware
– Software, and
– Process engineering

Completed with detailed design insights, about everything from the frame choice to print volume, BCN3D is very open in the documentation about the challenges faced in creating the R19 range.

“With the many enhancements to the R19 and collaborations with other key component suppliers,” Horne adds, “the team at BCN3D are helping bring the open source 3D printing community towards a more connected ecosystem.

“It’s great to see this level of innovation and I’m looking forward to further developments from the BCN3D team in the years to come.”

All the information for the R19 project is published under the CERN Open Hardware Licence (CERN OHL) and General Public License v3 (GPLv3).

Construction of the R19 3D printer range. Photos via BCN3D
Construction of the R19 3D printer range. Photos via BCN3D

Why open source is as relevant today as it was over a decade ago

A decade on from the invention of RepRap, some of the other 3D printer manufacturers founded on open source philosophies have struggled to stay buoyant in such a competitive market. Notably, in July 2018 open source 3D printer manufacturer Printrbot, which was founded in the same year as BCN3D, went out of business. Currently, Aleph Objects, the manufacturer of the Lulzbot 3D prints, is seeking potential buyers for the company following considerable staff layoff and heavy speculation that is to cease operation. Prior to these developments, other 3D printer manufacturers, most notably Makerbot, controversially chose to turn its back on the open source community and operate in a more closed, IP protected manner.

BCN3D Technologies however, alongside other open source successes like Prusa Research, is one company that appears to be thriving on open source roots. As covered in our series of Q&As celebrating the RepRap project, many believe in, and are demonstrating, the enduring relevance of open source 3D printing.

As Roger Uceda, founder of BCN3D Technologies, commented in his RepRap anniversary, “Although the explosion of new companies basing their business on cloning Open Source technology seems to jeopardize Open Source business models, we are seeing both the community and companies that practice open hardware are healthier than ever before.

“In the imminent future we will see open hardware companies within the world of 3D printing, creating relationships, not only based on the exchange of knowledge but on strategies that go a step further.

“Such large partnership projects will take Open Source 3D printing a step further, being able to compete not only in the 3D printing desktop sector, but also in the professional 3D printing sector.”

Sigma R19 open source files and Sigmax R19 open source files can be access here.

Components of the Sigma and Sigmax R19 3D printers. Image via BCN3D
Components of the Sigma and Sigmax R19 3D printers. Image via BCN3D

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Featured image shows components of the Sigma and Sigmax R19 3D printers. Image via BCN3D