Creality Ender 3
Does the Creality Ender 3 live up to the hype? Just like all the other communities, the 3D printing has its share of hyped up products. As the community grew with budget kits one printer stood out for being the first under $500 and needing little to no modifications to get great prints. That of course is the Creality CR10. Although it wasn’t without flaws and the users were quick to release improvements. Creality soon released updates to the CR10 calling it the CR10S. All the other chinese printer companies like Tevo, Anet and Tronxy followed with their own “clones” of the CR10. I use quotes because Anet tried going cheap with crappy parts and failed. Tevo copied the frame completely. Which I really liked. The Tornado being my favorite printer.
Then Creality tried to cash in on the popularity of the CR10 with the CR10 Mini. For some reason the mini didn’t get hyped. Maybe it was timing maybe it was price. The Creality Ender 3 is super cheap and prints okay. It isn’t without issues though.
Creality Ender 3: Specifications
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling）
Max Traveling Speed
AC 100-265V 50-60Hz
DC 24V 15A 360W
STL, OBJ, G-Code
Online or SD offline
Max Nozzle Temperature
Max Hot bed Temperature
The Creality Ender 3 comes well packed in foam and with the extrusions wrapped with plastic wrap. Included in the box are the standard tools that come with the cheap kits. Typically that includes alen keys to put the printer together, a spatula as well as side cutters for trimming your prints.
The included 8Gig micro SD card has the standard assembly instructions and test files. I’m not good with pre sliced gcode files being included because the temp and settings chosen when sliced are specific to the filament and the users filament is likely different. And the included filament is usually too short to even print the test file. The SD card does include the driver and a copy of the free open source slicer software Cura. probably an out of date version as it’s update quite often now. Also included is a Troubleshootings pdf file.
It is nice to have the SD card included. The micro SD card reader on the other hand is a piece of junk. Mine corrupted every card I put into it. I had to reformat them. Luckily I had a few others laying around.
Building the ender is quite simple and the assembly guide was pretty straight forward. The base comes pre assembled. That is an issue for me because, as I have seen so many times before they don’t take care when assembling. In the case of the Creality Ender 3 there is a lot of people with a twisted base. Mine included. Maybe it is one person at creality assembling them with a crooked table. Also there is always loose screws that sometimes show in your prints. You can check out my Tevo Michelangelo review to see what I mean.
With the base built and the electronics done for you assembly is quick and easy. Mine has hot glue on all the wire connections which is bad if you need to remove one for troubleshooting or modifications. For any printer you buy needs to have pre assembled parts double checked.
The SD card comes with two versions of Cura slicer software. An older version which I think works better then the newest one, and a newer version which is already outdated. A slicer is a program that slices the 3D object into layers, then turns it into instructions the printer can understand. If you need a free program then I would recommend Slic3r or Cura, but if you can afford it I would recommend Simplify3D.
The Ender 3 printer prints as well as the other sub $500 printers which is good because they can print as well as the expensive 3D printers. Not as consistently but most of the time. Although they need a bit of tinkering to get that level. Some even need you to spend extra money but not to much.
PLA is my favorite filament. It prints very easily and prints well. I chose to stick with PLA for almost all prints. I have other filaments on hand for niche needs. HTPLA is a PLA that prints with higher temps. It allows you to anneal your prints for extra strength.
I printed the 2 puppy models that came on the SD card. The kids in my wifes daycare loved them because they are big fans of the paw patrol TV show.
One of the best reasons to own a 3D printer is Cosplay. Before Halloween my son asked me to print some parts for his Halloween costume. I printed some goggles and a cane for him. The cane ran out of filament in the middle of the night which is a bit crazy since a filament runout sensor for a cent or two. The sensor will pause the print until you change the filament.That is one feature I put on all my printers that don’t come with them and will do the same to the Ender 3. It’s a simple thing to add and makes the printer better.
I printed the mask for my sons costume on a bigger printer and he put the goggles on and painted it. It turned out great.
The rest of my PLA prints are mods for the printer to help functionality and looks. See more in the modification section.
TPU is a flexible filament that is good when you need a rubber type surface for things like tires, phone cases and hinges. I printed poison bottles for my sons costume but they didn’t turn out so well. I reprinted in PLA on the JGAurora A5.
Creality Ender 3: Modifications
Modifications can serve a practical purpose or be just for looks. Some mods are a necessity though. For instance the Z alignment on the Ender 3 is so far off it needs something between the motor and the frame. If not it will bind when you try moving it. I used 2 of the cheap punched out wrenches that they send with printers for removing the nozzles. This seems to be a widespread problem because there are over 10 fixes for it on Thingiverse.com. I believe it has been corrected in the newer versions. I’m not sure how some of these things get past quality control.
After the Z alignment fix I was able to print items over 10cm. So next I printed the Muscle car Scoop to cover the oddly placed nainboard fan. The fan is below the bed and hotend bits of filament will get in and could break the blades. Also tools or screws could fall in and short out the board. Luckily someone made this awesome muscle car scoop to divert the flow and protect the fan and mainboard. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3150741
Next I printed a cool drawer to hold tools, screws and spare parts. It fits perfectly between the center bed rail and the right frame that the display is connected to. I chose to use multiple colors for my mods so the printer doesn’t look so plain. They put the dragon logo on the bed and display which is more than most of the cheaper printers do. Tevo being my favorite when it comes to style.
Another handy print is this little Yoda feeder guide. This helps you turn the extruder motor to feed the filament through the PTFE tube to the hot end. There are other style feeders but I like Yoda so I chose that one.
The last mod that should be done and does help your prints is the Bullseye filament cooling fan duct. There are plenty of fan ducts but this one works great and doesn’t take to much room on the extruder carriage.
Other mods that are more form then function are:
Filament guide to keep the filament off the threaded Z rod. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2920344
A Display cover. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2987100
Wire clips to keep the display wire from dangling. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2960375
Rubber TPU feet to help keep vibrations quieter. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3020865/files
A cable holder to keep the extruder and x carriage wires from snagging the bed.
Last and strictly for show, an X axis motor cover with the dragon logo on it.
Creality Ender 3: Pros and Cons
I’m not sure what this is and I haven’t seen this before but ½ way through all the prints I did the wheels had this odd dust on them. Both the X and Y axis.
PRINT QUALITY: 8/10
BUILD QUALITY: 7/10
USER INTERFACE & NAVIGATION: 7/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10
Creality Ender 3: Final Summary
After all the hype and putting this printer together and having the Z bind up I wasn’t impressed. I went to the Creality facebook group for answers and found it was wide spread. After fixing it and cooling off for all the extra work, I printed a few things and was impressed. This little printer at its current price is pretty good and easy to recommend. Is it perfect? Not really, but better then anything in its price range.