Frequently Asked Questions

A single head 3D printer is used to create a model which does not require support material. The second head is normally used for printing support material. Support material is a different type of plastic used to create scaffolding to support the geometric parts of the models which otherwise would be printed in mid-air. Support material enables a wider range of printable geometries.

The triple head 3D printer enables the same printing capabilities as a single head or double head machine. Currently, the third head relates to the extruder mapping feature within the firmware. This feature allows other material or a different colour of the same material to be used without having to swap and reload into the extruders. BFB’s Axon 2 conversion software allows users to print with two different colours and support material.

The double and triple head 3DTouch and BFB-3000 Plus 3D printers are NOT designed to print two or three items at the same time.

The RapMan and the 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus are based upon the same technology; however there are a few key differences:

  • The RapMan is a 3D printer kit which requires self-assembly (2 – 3 days). The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus is pre-assembled and requires approximately one hour to set up out of the box.
  • The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus is more robust as the frame is built with metal parts and assembled professionally within our factory. The RapMan frame is made with acrylic parts therefore becomes more fragile.
  • The RapMan requires periodic alignment and rigidity testing
  • The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus is able to produce more detailed geometry
  • The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus includes a triple head option
  • The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus provides a greater build size

The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus 3D printer is suitable for commercial, education and personal use whilst the RapMan is best suited for hobby and education purposes.

  • Single head RapMan: (X axis x Y axis x Z axis) 270mm x 205mm x 210mm
  • Double head RapMan: (X axis x Y axis x Z axis) 190mm x 205mm x 210mm
  • Single head 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus: (X axis x Y axis x Z axis) 275mm x 275mm x 210mm
  • Double head 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus: (X axis x Y axis x Z axis) 230mm x 275mm x 210mm
  • Triple head 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus: (X axis x Y axis x Z axis) 185mm x 275mm x 210mm

Please note: the build size depends of the number of extruders in use for a print and not of the machine. For example if you create a model with only one extruder (print head) but are using a triple head machine, the maximum build size will be the same as for a single head machine.

The 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus 3D printer does not require any particular maintenance procedures. If your machine is not used for a long time, the plastic already in the extruder should simply re-melt and extrude normally.

BFB 3D printers can be used with any CAD program that has the ability to export .stl files. If you’re just starting out, Google SketchUp is a free 3D modelling package available available to download from the internet.

BFB 3D printers require Axon 2 conversion software. This is free to download from the BFB website and is also supplied on SD card with certain machines.

BFB sells and supports two thermoplastic materials: ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (Polylactic Acid). PLA is probably the easiest material to work with when you first start printing. PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic that has been derived from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugar canes. This makes PLA environmentally friendly and very safe to work with. It is also our preferred choice for support material. (Support material is used to make scaffolding to support the geometry of a model which otherwise would be printed in mid-air.)

When using PLA as support material, the main part needs to be printed with ABS. ABS is considered to be the second easiest material to work with when you start 3D printing. ABS is an engineering polymer commonly used to produce car bumpers due to its toughness and strength. It does however have a tendency to warp on larger geometries and this must be considered when choosing your material.

You can also use HDPE, LDPE, PP and uPVC plastics on Bits from Bytes 3D printers, however due to their undefined nature, we cannot support them on a technical level.

Support material can be removed in one of three ways. The first and easiest is to simply break it away off of your printed part. Alternatively, you can remove PLA support material by hydrolysing in sodium hydroxide (care must be taken with this option). PLA can also be made extremely brittle by soaking in 80°C water for 48 hours.

The finish surface quality depends on the geometry and layer thickness you are printing with. For example the 0.125mm layer thickness will result in a smoother surface compared with the 0.25mm layer thickness, however it will take longer to print.

All BFB printed plastic parts can be sanded (ABS and PLA material). This makes the part smoother, however may change the aesthetic properties due to micro-fatiguing mechanics e.g. colour change.

Application of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), either by dipping or lightly painting, will smooth the ABS layered surface. Appropriate manufacturer safety precautions must be followed during use.

For both the RapMan and 3DTouch / BFB-3000 Plus 3D printers, you can select a z-layer accuracy of 0.125mm, 0.25mm or 0.5mm. A finer resolution means a better quality print however it does increase the printing time.

Generally if the 3D printer takes ‘x’ minutes to print a low resolution part, it will require twice the amount of time to print the same model in medium resolution and four times longer to print in high resolution.

Our technical department is continually working on enhancing existing machines and all future bolt-on kits for the RapMan or BFB 3000 will be backwards compatible. I.e. they will be designed to work with any previous RapMan, BFB-3000 or 3DTouch 3D printers. Most of them are available as a free upgrade.