Creality Ender 3 & Ender 3 Pro – Upgrades, Information, and Tips

Introduction

The Creality Ender 3 is a very popular model due to it’s features and price. There are 2 “flavors” of this printer – Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro. You may see models online marketed as the Ender “3X”, these are just Ender 3 models with some extra parts added into the package by the reseller.

UPDATE: If your Ender 3 has a V4.2.2 or V4.2.7 board in it then it already has the bootloader on it. Only the older V1.1.X boards do not usually have bootloaders on them.

Specifications

  • Build Area: 220 x 220 x 250mm
  • Stock Nozzle Size: 0.4mm
  • Stock Nozzle Type: MK8
  • Filament Size: 1.75mm
  • Max Heated Bed Temp: 100-110C (100C max recommended by TH3D)
  • Max Hotend Temp: 235C (over this stock PTFE will degrade)
  • Max ACTUAL Print Speed: 60-80mm/s
  • Connectivity: Mini USB & MicroSD (max 32GB, FAT32 Formatted)
  • LCD: Creality 12864 Style

Technical Specifications

  • Printer Operating Voltage: 24VDC
  • Input Voltage (aka Wall Power): 110/220VAC 50/60hz
  • Board: Creality V4.2.2 OR Creality Melzi Board
  • CPU: STM32F103RET6 72mhz CPU w/512K memory (V4.2.x Boards) OR Atmel 1284P w/128K Memory (Older Models with V1.1.x boards)
  • Bootloader Pre-Installed: V4.2.X boards have a Bootloader | V1.1.x boards do not have a bootloader
  • Stock Firmware: Creality Marlin
  • Supported in TH3D Firmware: Yes
  • Auto Bed Leveling: No
  • Power Supply: 350W 24V DC
  • Control Box Fan: 40mm, 24V
  • Hotend Fan: 40mm, 24V
  • Layer Fan: 40x10mm Blower, 24V

Differences between Ender 3 and Ender 3 “Pro”

The Ender 3 and the Ender 3 Pro are very similar but the Pro does have some differences that add to the value of the printer. However, despite the “Pro” marking this is not a professional grade machine and has many of the same drawbacks as the normal Ender 3 model.

The Ender 3 Pro comes with a more reliable and safe Meanwell brand power supply, 40x40mm size Y extrusion for better stability of the bed, and the Creality magbed.

If the price difference between the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro when you are purchasing is $40 or less it is recommended to go with the Ender 3 Pro as you get the much better power supply.

What we like about the Ender 3 models

The Ender 3 series is an excellent balance of price and features. These are good machines to get into 3D printing and build on them to make them into very reliable and accurate machines. The build area is generous and the community around this particular model is very large. Having a printer with a large and active community around means getting help is pretty easy and modifications for them are not in short supply. The frame and vslot construction is easy to build along with being easy to maintain. There are plenty of replacement and upgrade parts for this machine so keeping it running is easy to do and affordable. This is a great printer to start with and slowly upgrade to make it the exact machine you want. Because of the generous build area and heated bed that can get to 100C temperatures it is a printer that most users will not grow out of very quickly.

What we don’t like about the Ender 3 models

Since this machine is built to target the lower end market it does have its drawbacks. These are the most common issues that we see with these machines. Luckily all these things are easily and cheaply fixed on this printer. We also carry a vast selection of parts for this machine.

No Thermal Runaway Protection* – This is a HUGE issue with this printer. No thermal runaway protection means that in the event of the hotend and/or bed having an issue it can cause the printer to heat uncontrollably to the point where it can cause damage to the printer and even a fire (in the worst case scenario). To get this feature you can flash our firmware for it but you need to install the bootloader first before you can update the firmware (see below bootloader section).

*Creality has stated that they would start turning this on in their stock firmware but it is best to assume that your printer does not have this enabled on it. As of 5/20/2020 we have not personally seen any with this on when it comes to machines we physically have dealt with.

Poor Grounding on the Power Supply* – The generic power supply that comes with the Ender 3 has been known for a while now to not have proper grounding on it. This can be fixed sometimes by opening up the chassis of the power supply and tightening down the grounding screw or replacing it with a better power supply like one from Meanwell.

*The Ender 3 Pro comes with a Meanwell power supply so this section would not be relevant to the Ender 3 Pro model.

No Bootloader – The stock control board in this printer is actually pretty capable and we’ve been able to do a lot for it in our firmware for it. But since Creality did not install a bootloader on this board you will need to flash one to install the firmware. You can do this with our Bootloader Kit in about 30 minutes when following our Bootloader Flashing Guide. This only needs to be done one time unless you have a flashing error. After the bootloader code is installed on the board you can flash the firmware over the USB port from your computer.

Plastic Extruder Failure – This printer comes with a plastic extruder and a spring that is not very high tension. Over time the extruder arm tends to crack from holding the filament and this results in printing failures.

Image from r/3DPrinting via u/boriqua76

We carry 2 types of extruders that work with this machine and one is a direct replacement. If you want to replace the plastic one and want a cost-effective upgrade then our Aluminum Extruder is the way to go. If you want something with more torque and the option to print flexible filament (when paired with our Tough Tube) then our Tough Extruder is a great option an there is a mount for it as well to attach to the Ender 3.

Fan Failure – This issue is not exclusive to the Ender 3 but a general issue with the chinese printers. Because these printers are built to such a low cost some corners that get cut are the quality of the fans that come with the machine. Luckily, we carry fans that are a little quieter and much better quality to replace them. Depending on the fan you need to replace just scroll up and click the link next to the fan you need to replace in the Technical Specifications above and it will take you to that product page.

PTFE Fitting Failure – Again, this issue is not exclusive to the Ender 3 but applies to most Creality printers. The stock PTFE fittings tend to fail after a few months and stop holding the PTFE tubing. There are 2 fittings on the machine, one on the extruder and one on the hotend itself, and we carry both of these fittings.

Hotend Jams/Clogs – Due to the bulk assembly many Ender 3’s (and Creality machines) have issues where a gap forms between the nozzle and the PTFE tube. This can be fixed a few ways. One is with the PTFE fix from OneBadMarine on Thingiverse and another is to replace the fitting and follow our directions here. On our machines here we do the following to make sure the PTFE is seated in the hotend correctly. Before you begin make sure the end of the PTFE tubing is cut flush and not at an angle. If your PTFE fitting was already releasing the grip on the tubing you should replace it before doing any of the fixes.

  1. Heat the hotend to 230C
  2. Unscrew the PTFE fitting 1/4 of a turn
  3. Insert the PTFE tube all the way into the hotend (with it still heated) until it stops
    1. If your PTFE has a groove in it where the fitting was cut off 10mm of tubing before inserting so the fitting has a fresh portion to bite into
  4. Re-tighten down the PTFE fitting, it should lock the tubing in place now
  5. Make sure you can feed filament through the hotend
  6. Run a print!
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