The Creality Ender 3 is one of the most popular 3D printers on the market. This unit has consistently featured in our list of the best 3D printers for beginners for its ease of use, as well as ability to be upgraded.
Creality Ender 3 3D printer is an assembly kit from the Chinese brand Creality3D. This model was released back in 2018, and in a matter of months gained popularity among users around the world as a budget and high-quality solution for amateur 3D printing.
Since the launch of the Ender 3 series on the market, subsequent printers have undergone various upgrades and improvements. Therefore, you should not be sorry if you did not have time to buy first-tier printers. Today, the Ender 3 model is much more perfect and more reliable.
One interesting feature of the Ender 3 is that it is fully open source.
There are 3 models in the Ender 3 series:
- Ender-3 Build Kit
- Ender-3 Pro Build Kit
- The Ender-3S Pre-Assembled Printer
The main differences between the Ender-3 Pro and the usual “three-wheel” are the presence of a magnetic sticker for better adhesion and a more powerful Meanwell power supply.
The Ender-3S is a pre-assembled printer that has all the features of the Pro model, but comes pre-assembled. This model is suitable for users who do not want to spend time assembling the printer or are not entirely confident in their abilities.
In this review, we will go through the cheapest and simplest model; the Ender 3.
Creality Ender 3 Review
Packaging and Equipment
The Ender 3 comes in a compact box. All components are fixed with a foam seal, which ensures safety during transportation.
In the package, you’ll get the printer parts.
In addition to printer parts, the kit also includes:
- A set of hexagons
- Small roll of PLA plastic (5 m.)
- Nozzle cleaning wire
- Spatula, nippers and screwdriver
- 8GB SD card and USB SD card adapter
- Replaceable nozzle
- Set of hardware and set of cable ties
- Spare pneumatic fitting
- Instructions in English and other languages
- Warranty card
The included SD card contains the firmware and test models to run the first print.
The package bundle was a pleasant surprise, as there is even a replaceable nozzle, an adapter for an SD card and a spare fitting.
Creality Ender 3 Technical Specs
3D Printing Specifications
|Print Area||220 x 220 x 250mm|
|Filament||1.75mm PLA, ABS, TPU|
|Max. Print Speed||200mm/s|
|Max. Layer Resolution||0.1mm|
|Connectivity||SD Card, USB|
Dimensions & Weight
The Ender 3 can print ABS, PLA, TPU, PETG and other plastics. However, given the open case, you may need to build a housing for the printer if you plan on printing ABS.
The printer can also experience some challenges when printing soft plastics due to the bowden feed. However, there are some semi-rigid plastics (like the Ninja Cheetah) that won’t even have a problem with a bowden pitch.
Assembling the Printer
If you are new to 3D printing, assembling a printer may be a challenging task. It took us about 50 minutes to assemble and calibrate the Ender 3. However, absolute beginners may take over an hour to assemble and calibrate the unit.
The lower part of the frame with the table is shipped already assembled. This greatly simplifies the assembly process. You also don’t have to assemble the extruder and the X-axis motor.
The printer assembly instructions can be viewed in multiple languages. The assembly consists of 12 steps, which are clearly described. However, there are several points that need additional explanations. We will touch on them below.
- The first step is to assemble the printer frame. The vertical profiles, a power supply and a display are attached to the bottom.
This step is simple. However, further assembly steps will be somewhat more complicated.
- The next step is to install the stop and Z-axis motor.
Here, it is important to set the Z-stop 32 mm from the base. Placing it lower or higher can result into issues during calibration.
The height of the Z-axis motor needs to be adjusted for normal movement of the profile on which the extruder is mounted. You can use a standard plastic card to do the adjustment.
- Next is assembling the X axis. Attach the extruder motor, the extruder itself on rollers, the belt, the belt tensioner and the idler pulley to the aluminum profile. Some users in their reviews noted that the X-axis belt was a little longer, and they had to arrange dances with a tambourine to achieve the desired tension. For us, we did not have such a problem.
- And there is little left to do …
Secure the top profile.
- Install the spool holder, connect all tubing and electronics and… the printer is completely assembled.
Another important point: Although the table and the bottom frame are assembled at the factory, it is better to tighten the fastener screws for high-quality printing. In any case, you should definitely check them before starting the printer.
The platform is calibrated using giant nuts placed at each corner of the print bed. Due to their large size, the nuts are easy to rotate. This makes calibration very easy.
Calibration is performed in a standard way at the four extreme points of the table using a sheet of paper folded in half.
If in doubt that the calibration was successful, it is best to repeat the procedure until you achieve the desired result.
Design and Construction
The assembled printer is simple and concise. The design is standard for budget FDM printers – “spongy” kinematics with an open body. Trapezoidal screws are installed along the Z axis. All electrics are located inside the lower frame.
The Ender 3 is equipped with an omnivorous MK10 extruder with a bowden feed. This means that printing with soft plastics can be problematic. However, in theory, such a feed will allow you to develop a high printing speed without losing quality.
The Creality Ender 3 has a small display that is mounted directly on the base. This is different from what we see on the newer and more expensive Creality3D CR-10, model where the control unit comes separately with the screen.
On the one hand, this is a plus, especially if you plan to periodically move the printer from one place to another. On the other hand, if you close the printer with a housing, then the electronics will also be under it and additional heating cannot be avoided.
The display is simple and displays basic information such as the set and current temperatures of the nozzle and table, printing time, progress bar, etc. The display is controlled using a standard rotary knob.
The Ender 3’s printing table has a size of 235 x 235 mm and its surface resembles the good old Wanhao. Generally, there were no problems with adhesion. In fact, sometimes additional efforts were required to remove the model from the platform.
The Ender 3 Pro comes with a more comfortable magnetic sticker that improves adhesion and makes removal easier.
Creality3D has its own slicer, which looks like a slightly modernized CURA. The installation files are supplied with the printer. You can also download the software and firmware from the manufacturer’s website.
Now let’s move on to our Ender-3 print results.
We used several different types of plastic, and the printer coped well with all of them. There was one unsuccessful model with uneven layers. However, after adjusting the print settings, there were no more quality problems.
This is a waiting from the gray PLA Esun (although the trunk suffered a slight fiasco and was not printed a little to the end):
The little skull also printed well:
As it turns out, the printer does a good job with both small objects and larger models.
Next, we tried PLA-txt 8.2 Magic from North Bridge. It also turned out well.
This Polimaker’s Esilk PLA pig is not the best. However, it is still something to be proud of given that this is a budget printer.
The Ender 3 3D printer proved to be worthy in terms of printing results, especially for its money. The quality of the printed models is at par with those created on more expensive printers. The reliability of the design and the quality of the printer parts are also surprising. We expected that it would be a flimsy device with cheaper components.
However, there is one main disadvantage. The printer will not produce the best results “right out of the box”. You need to assemble it and understand the 3D printing processes.
We’d recommend the Ender 3 to people who already have experience in 3D printing (not absolute beginners). When assembling the printer, you will have to spend time solving some problems and taking into account certain nuances. If you don’t really want to spend time on this, then it is better to buy an already assembled Ender-3S printer.
The scope of the printer is very wide: from use as a home toy and assistant, to artistic modeling and even printing prototypes of parts and functional elements.
For its price and in the right hands, the Ender 3 is an excellent choice!