Oct 20, 2015 | By Kira

BQ, one of the largest smartphone and tablet manufacturers in Spain, first entered the 3D printing market in 2013. Their Witbox, the first 3D printer manufactured in Spain gained widespread attention and approval for its impressively large 297 x 210 x 200 mm print size. The very next year, they followed up with the Hephestos, a RepRap 3D printer based on the Prusa i3. Not to disappoint in 2015, BQ hosted a massive press event last week in Madrid to unveil two new 3D printers, the Witbox 2 and Hephestos 2, as well as a new smartphone, tablet, Internet of Things wifi-enabled light bulb, and a 3D printable robot named Zowi, designed to teach children about robotics and programming.

Though best known for their smartphones, e-readers and tablets, BQ’s core values are education and open access to technology, making their entry to the open source 3D printing maker movement the next logical step. Previously, we covered their open-source Ciclop 3D scanner and 3D scanning software, as well as their 3D printable robotic beetle, all of which were created with education, affordability and accessibility in mind. The series of products unveiled at the BQ Open day last Wednesday proves that their commitment to these values is as strong as ever.

BQ's new 'double drive gear' extruder technology

For the Witbox 2, BQ upgraded several key features while leaving its most revered property—its admirable 297 x 210 x 200 mm print size—unchanged. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, right? On the performance side, however, they introduced a new CNC circuit board allowing for more fluid movement of the motors, a more intuitive graphic LCD display with higher resolution, an auto-levelling system, and a brand new extruder that incorporates a ‘double drive gear traction’ system, reducing the risk of obstruction and allowing it to print with multiple new materials, including PLA, bronze, wood, copper and flexible materials such as FilaFlex. In keeping with the commitment to open access, the firmware and hardware of the Witbox 2 is 100% open source. It will be available as of this November for the price of €1690.

The Hephestos 2 is being marketed as a DIY 3D printer with professional results. Much like its predecessor, it is a RepRap 3D printer based on the Prusa i3 model, however many of its previous plastic parts have been replaced with aluminium and steel parts for a more professional finish and robust structure. Just like the Witbox 2, it has also been outfitted with a new extruder allowing it to print with diverse materials, a new auto-levelling system, a heat-dissipating sensor and that 297 x 210 x 200 mm print volume. In keeping with the maker spirit, the entire printer can be easily assembled in less than 2 hours thanks to its optimized parts and packaging, and it will be available for just €849 euros.

The third exciting maker product released this week by BQ is an adorable dancing robot named Zowi. Originally unveiled a few months ago without an official name or clear purpose, Zowi was introduced last week as an educational toy for children, with 3D printable parts that can easily be mounted, modified, and programmed to perform different tasks, such as dancing, walking, jumping and shaking. It is powered by four motors with Bluetooth connection and can display letters or symbols on its LED screen, and play or record various sounds. An app will soon be launched allowing children—or adults—to play around and learn about programming all while having fun. According to the company, they designed Zowi as a “faithful reflection of what technology education should be: transparent, open, and fun.” Both Zowi’s hardware and software will be completely open source, and it will be available for just €99 this November—just in time for a Merry Maker Christmas.

BQ Open Day also saw the launch of the company’s first step into the Internet of Things with an interesting wifi-connected light bulb called the Halu. Designed and created entirely in Spain, Halu allows users to control the intensity and colour of the light through an open source application that can be run on smartphones, tablets and computers. Speaking of smartphones and tablets, BQ’s bread and butter, the company launched the Aquaris X5 smartphone and Aquaris M10 tablet, both of which will be sold starting at only €229.

 

 

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