Unboxing & Build: The (beta) BQ Hephestos 2! And a note on neutrality.

Just released: BQ’s Hephestos 2 – in kit form! Here’s what I unpacked from one of the pre-release units.
In related news, i’ll also be covering why i’m ok with working at BQ and still keeping an objective view on 3D printing stuff!

BQ Hephestos 2 Unboxing & Build

Hey everyone, Tom here, and this / is a beta unit of the BQ Hephestos 2. It’s still very beta-ish, so i’m going to stick to an unboxing and build timelapse for today, with a review coming out when I’ve got a 100% retail unit here. Kinda like the same thing i did with the Printrbot play. But first, let me get something out of the way. I got hired by BQ. Basically they were like, okay, we’d like you to try one of these beta machines and just give us some feedback on what you think works and what’s still broken. Two emails later, and we’re at “Hey, uhm, actually, uhm, would you like to work for us?”. And i was like “Well, let me think about that… Yes! Yes, definitely.”.

So starting December this year (which is 2015), i’ll be working for bq as an Educational Project Specialist. Notice how that doesn’t include 3D printing? The thing is, i’m not going to be responsible for anything that is specifically 3D printing related; my job, together with Nils Hitze, is going to be creating educational content and managing bq’s efforts in that area in Germany. So what is that going to mean for this channel? Not much, actually. Well, since i’ll have access to the entire lineup of bq’s 3D printing offerings, you’re probably going to see a few more reviews of those here, but it does not mean i’ll be favoring bq’s stuff over what other manufacturers offer.

Just look at my review of the Witbox, i stand behind that video 100 percent and they’re still going to hire me. So there’s that, in case you ever feel like i might be drifting away from an impartial position, just let me know, because that’s definitely not what i’m going for. As always, anything i say on this channel is 100% my personal, own opinion.

Now with that out of the way, let’s move on to the Hephestos 2 itself. Pretty much everything you’ll be seeing in this video is going to be identical to the final version, including, i believe, the packaging.

First impression: This thing is heavy. And it’s not just the printer itself, it’s actually also the packaging, which is a stack of three cardboard trays that present all the parts of this printer kit to you. Up first is the printer’s main frame, powder coated aluminum, as usual, as well as some of the X, Y and Z motor mounts, which are powder coated steel. Fun fact: There’s only a single 3D-printed part in the entire printer, everything that’s structurally important is machined or folded metal, including the Z motor couplers as well as the idlers for the X and Y belts.

Next up, an assortment of fasteners, which do not include washers, big plus for assembly time, and are limited to relatively few different sizes. This box also includes a pair of rubber gloves, as well a some scaringly long acupuncture needles. They do seem out of place, but the gloves are actually intended to keep your fingers grease-free during the assembly, while the needles presumably are for poking around in your hotend if it ever gets jammed. Also included in this tray is the preassembled extruder and hotend… package, including a spring-loaded bondtech-ish extruder, an all-metal hotend and a pair of cooling fans, one for the extruder and one for cooling the print. Then there’s four Wantai stepper motors, as well as, look at this, HIWIN linear rails. These get bolted onto the main and the X-subframe and provide the linear guidance for the X and Z axes. It’s nice to see them as they are a decent upgrade from the typical LM8UU bearings. / And that’s it for this tray.

In the next one, there’s the spindles for the z-axis, and _ for the y axis, we’re back to LM8UU, or, in this case the enclosed type SC8UU, which is the same bearing, but embedded in an aluminum mounting block. And at this point, i kinda didn’t feel like unpacking this tray any further as having its contents spread out over the entire table wouldn’t be any better than having them neatly sorted in these trays. Still, here’s a look at what else you’ll find in this one. Starting from the top, there’s the four structural struts and rails for the Y axis, the tensioners for the X and Y belts, and the X subframe, very is actually built very similarly to what’s used in the Printrbot Play. Further down are the front and rear portions of the printer frame, again, aluminum with a dark grey powder coating. To the right, we have the Z nuts, which seem to be made from IGUS bearing plastic, as well as two more structural components of the frame, which double up as an electronics compartment. And the two belts for X and Y.

In the lower left corner, we’ve got the two massive, machined aluminum Z nut mounts, which connect the plastic nuts to the linear carriages, and the same bearing mount for the X axis. Now these four 8mm rods are actually not used for linear motion, they connect the mid and rear frame together. / In the lower row, there are two clamps for the bottom 8mm rods which connect the front and rear frame and now also get clamped onto the mid frame. Also, two idlers, which actually come with a proper belt profile. That’s a first. Also, the Y belt mount as a folded steel part.

So in the next tray, you will find the following parts: An aluminum knob for the LCD controller panel. A bunch of acrylic panels that will serve as covers and as a bearing surface for the filament spool. Also, the printbed, a somewhat unique construction of bonded aluminum and glass – it’s not a heated bed, though. Furthermore, an aluminum heatsink or heatspreader for the electronics, the spool mount, the bed carriage, and / just hold your breath for a second here: Prewired drag chains. This is literally heaven for me. You may know that i like seeing drag chains on a printer, it’s just a very proper way of handling moving wiring. On the other hand, there’s not much that i despise more than having to having to wire up a machine wire by wire, it just feels like you’re spending way too much time on way too little progress. So having this prewired did make the assembly a lot faster and lot less painful for me.

So going with that theme, next up are the electronics, starting with the X and Y endstops and a custom-made sensor for that automatic bed compensation, as well as a few short wires for the things that aren’t routed through the drag chains. The electronics set is a custom Arduino, or bq’s flavor of it, ZUM-based platform, consisting of the ZUM Mega 3D, a RAMBO-like all-in-one control board, plus a large LCD panel with an SD reader. Also in here is a pre-cut sheet of adhesive rubber film.. thing, used as a soft dampener anywhere two hard surfaces are joined. Also, two thermal pads which connect the control board to that heatsink or heat spreader, and, in turn, to the aluminum frame assembly. That much cooling is also a first. So what else is in here? Two clamps for the bed’s quick-release system, a few cable clips as well a pretty hefty power brick.

Now, of course, the build. And for being a more-than-full-sized printer, i was actually pretty surprised by how quickly this went together. Even with an unfinished version of the assembly guide, it only took me about two and a half hours total, which is the fasted build i’ve ever done of # any printer. I’d mostly attribute that to the choice of less assembly- and adjustment-intensive parts, like the HIWIN linear rails, as well as to the fact that finicky assemblies like the extruder and the drag chains come pre-assembled. So here’s what the assembly looks like, i’ll just leave you with that, and, like i said, as soon as i’ve got a retail sample of the Hephestos 2, there will be a review of it.

Thanks for watching, see you in the next one. Cheers!

Music is William Ekh – Adventures (feat. Alexa Lusader) [NCS Release]

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