BCN3D announced the release of their own slicing software, “BCN Stratos”.
The Spanish company has been producing professional 3D printers for several years, but up to now they’ve relied on Ultimaker Cura as their slicing platform.
That’s a common practice among 3D printer manufacturers, since Ultimaker Cura is provided to the world as open source software. It’s relatively easy to create a machine profile for most devices and use them inside Ultimaker Cura.
However, BCN3D has now taken a step further here by producing their own slicing software. As you might suspect, BCN3D has produced a version of Ultimaker Cura. This is done by forking a copy of the open source Ultimaker Cura code and making whatever changes are required.
The result is a slicing tool that closely resembles Ultimaker Cura, but includes customized features specifically for BCN3D clients. Those familiar with Ultimaker Cura — including BCN3D clients — will have no trouble using the new “BCN3D Stratos”. The functions are mostly identical.
It’s not clear which version of Ultimaker Cura was used as the base for BCN3D Cura. The version number of BCN3D Cura I’m testing is “1.0.0”, but that is not the corresponding Ultimaker Cura version. However, I can tell you that BCN3D Stratos is definitely not using a recent version of Ultimaker Cura as its base.
BCN3D has injected not only machine profiles, but also material profiles for their products:
They also have pre-configured different hot end nozzles that can be swapped into the equipment:
I’m testing the Windows version of BCN3D Stratos, and they also provide a Linux version. They said a Mac OS version is coming in a week or two, but curiously there is a Mac OS download button. I gave it a try.
I found the “latest” Mac OS version to be somewhat different than the Windows version. As it isn’t officially released, it’s obviously not ready. However, it did appear to be using a more advanced version of Ultimaker Cura as its base.
There were some other very curious differences between the released Windows version and the not-quite-ready Mac version.
For example, here we see a 3D model in “mirror” mode for an Epsilon W27 dual independent extruder mode. This is quite easy to set up on the Mac version, but I couldn’t easily find it on the Windows version:
But perhaps the most important difference is a very small set of buttons at the top of each window:
The Windows version has only a “Support” button. Perhaps this indicates we’ll be seeing a “Cloud” button appear in the Windows version in a future release.
The “Go to the cloud” button takes you to a browser for login to the BCN3D cloud. There you will be able to manage your inventory of 3D printers, look at print statistics, obtain support and share files. It’s a powerful platform that is becoming a requirement for 3D printer manufacturers these days.
Then I realized one reason why BCN3D might take the big step of making their own software instead of continuing to use Ultimaker Cura. Recent versions of Ultimaker Cura are increasingly including links to Ultimaker’s own cloud and ecosystem, which would be repeatedly exposed to BCN3D’s clients if they continued to use base Ultimaker Cura.
That’s not optimal, particularly when BCN3D has their own cloud and ecosystem. By taking control of the software, BCN3D has the ability to redirect traffic to their own cloud. This may also be a reason why they seem to be using older versions of Ultimaker Cura as their base software.
Nevertheless, it appears that BCN3D Stratos will be a welcome add to anyone using BCN3D equipment.