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Creality Ender 3, setup, mods/improvements and how-tos [serious]

Genuine Creality Ender 3 $144 with prime shipping
There seem to be several people jumping on the Ender 3 deal that’s available.

I purchased one of these as a gift for my cousin. Ill be setting the machine up, making some modifications to it to improve its reliability, repeatability and overall print capabilities. I wont only have this printer for a short duration, but this should help many get started and can serve as a place for other members to share and troubleshoot.

This will be very long, and I will continue adding to it. I look forward to hearing from others in the community as well

Okay, so you got a 3D printer. Exciting! :grin:
First and foremost, take a deep breath. You’re going to spend the majority of your first few weeks with the machine printing little cubes and calibration pieces. Leave those ambitions of printing that enclosure, belt guard or go pro mount anytime soon. Many people wind up having a bad experience with 3D printing because they underestimate what they are getting into. 3D printing has a very steep learning curve and is very challenging in general. Lets dive in to that:

First, 3D printing has a very steep learning curve. Period. This isn’t just about printing an object. Its about the proper assembly and squaring of the machine, filament selection, slicer parameters, environmental factors. This is a manufacturing process and is by nature complex. Do not misinterpret the name “printer” to mean it will behave anything like the click-print deskjet printer next to your PC.

Second, you get what you pay for. 3D printing has been around for a number of years but has only recently become affordable - this thread pertains to the ender 3, which is the most popular 3D printer and is now under $200. However, these machines are making linear movements in 4 axis’ at the same time, with accuracies of 0.02 mm in some directions. Enterprise machines have enterprise costs for a reason, quality of components. This is very important to understand as it will help you troubleshoot issues more quickly. These Chinese 3D printers have incredible capabilities and execute great prints. Where they fail, is in their repeatability. When you need to hold tolerances in the 0.01 mm range, cheap components create misalignments, loss of position and a general lack of rigidity that can prevent prints from even starting.

Now that you’re good and terrified, let me say this. 3D printing for functional and decorative purposes is really great and you should be looking forward to it. If you want to waste the least amount of money, time and get to printing cool things the fastest,

I recommend that you do the following:

  1. Do your research. There is an endless supply of 3D printing information on the web. YouTube should be your place to start. The good thing for the Ender 3 owners, its super popular and will be the display model used in most of the content you find.

  2. Join support groups: Ender 3, Creality and other 3D printing support groups dominate facebook. There is actually not a great forum for 3D printing that im aware of that caters to many users. There is a reprap forum, but the userbase isn’t very active. Facebook is the place to be.

  3. Pick a filament and stick with it. There are many different types of filaments, the most common being PLA, PETG and ABS. Every time you change to a new filament you’ll have half a dozen calibration prints, parameter adjustments and other changes to calibrate, measure and change. This can be time consuming. Using consistent materials allows you to print more consistently and with less down time.
    This means when you want to print something in ABS, you can just switch your saved presets to ABS and start printing. If you get a new brand of ABS, youre starting that whole calibration over.

  4. TAKE YOUR TIME. I cant emphasize this enough. Failed prints are a pain and are usually preventable by the proper setup.

Useful resources:

Teaching Tech Youtube - this guy is very active online, in forums and provides a ton of content for ender 3. Start here with your research.

I would also recommend downloading Ultimaker Cura and/or Prusa Slicer, research them a bit as well.

Things every 3D printer owner should have

Tools

Filament - others will chime in here. These are just my current basics

Overture, SUNLU and Hatchbox are decent midrange filaments that are easy to get because they are available from Amazon. If you’re just starting out, get 2-3 rolls of PLA/PLA+ for the meantime to get started. I would recommend choosing PLA + over standard PLA

This should get people started with things to have on hand before it arrives.

Those planning to do upgrades, its always good to have a multitude of basic hand tools, electrical tools and wiring equipment.

My printer gets delivered Tuesday. More to come!

Bill

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Thank you for posting this!!!

Leveling this is hell! Took a few tries to get it right, even then, one of the adjustment knob was free spinning by the fifth print I did.

All in all I’m having fun with the printer. All I have to say is that my Shredlight GoPro point printed out much better than what Shredlight sent me. That print was BS for something I had to pay for.

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Hi Mike could you share the file? Thank you.

Yep, the first thing people have to learn is to level the bed and have it at proper distance form the nozzle.

But before that check if you have a warped bed. If you do, you have to buy a glass bed. A simple mirror glass would also do.

You can check if your nozzle is too close or too far away based on these symptoms:

  1. Nozzle pushed in into the bed: the nozzle will grind on the bed and scratch it and wear itself out
  2. A bit too close to the bed: There is no way for plastic to escape and nothing will come out. Also extruder will start to slip because it is pushing but the filament is not going out
  3. Just right: The molten extruded filament flows nicely and is pressed nicely to the bed
  4. Too far: It no longer sticks to the bed and just spools around the nozzle.
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Wondering if all is said and gonna be said here for the ender 3 is applicable for the alfawise U30, given their very similar (almost identical) design, hardware and all

I had a warped bed on mine, changed for the 30 by 30 ikea mirror (4 mirrors for 5 euros !), cut it down with a diamond drill bit, worked not that well, figured out I could cut them using a laser cutter, did that it’s good now
But I thing I also have a bent horizontal axis, the nozzle is closer from the bed in the center than on the sides

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I highly recommend tightening the bed knobs 3/4 of the way down and adjusting your height stop switch (z axis) for this reason. Now the bolts stay much tighter and I only have to adjust when I pull something big off the bed that is well stuck down. I’ve seen some people use a bit if blue loctite too. Third option is tighter springs. I have some @Itsmedant sent me that I haven’t needed to install I could pass on to you.

Inland filament from microcenter has been solid for me along with hatchbox and overture.

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I love having those springs on mine. I haven’t releveled in maybe 15 prints now. I check it every now and then or if there is a failed print.

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Didn’t even think about doing this. Definitely need to get tighter springs now, the rear left one seems prone to vibrating itself loose after 2-3 prints.

@esk8 the shredlight gopro mount is on Thingiverse. I can’t access it right now

I’m printing everything in that blue PLA that’s I already had from before, I got the mount sitting in my car right now in the “winter” sun, let see how long this will hold up.

What filament should we be using? and is PLA PLUS actually better?

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PLA plus can be better. They are typically just PLA/ABS or PLA/PETG blends. The thermal properties can be somewhat improved, but it depends

I ran a PLA+ battery enclosure for 3 months and beat the hell out of it without an issue

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But what about strength for something like WHEEL pulleys which is something I really want to print eventually. I was going to use ABS but learned that there’s shrinkage which doesn’t seem to be a good thing for this application.

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I had good results with printing pulleys in petg.
I print most of my stuff in petg. Not always without stringing, but prints are solid so far.

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BTW. Here’s a pic of what I printed vs what ShredLights SELLS!

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Wow you got a bad print from them

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yes I did! Eric replied to my message and said he would send me a new one. I just don’t understand why he/his team would even send that defect out. I think they sped up the printer just to get out all those order when the product released.

Really need to get black filament, I have all blue everything right now :joy:

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This is where you get into the really advanced stages of 3D printing. Now you need to think about material selection based on the parts operation. There is a lot of info out there about each of these filaments. Each filament has unique combinations of stiffness, hardness, melt temperatures and so on. When you cannot satisfy the strength, thermal resistance and wear resistance needed for a part with a particular plastic, you know it’s time to move on to a CNC made metal part.

Pulleys for example, can be printed with anything. But the operating conditions matter. For esk8 where the speeds and forces are high, there is a substantial amount of heat and friction build up that can occur, making low melt temp plastics inadequate. For the small diameter of the motor pulley, the forces exerted will deform the small teeth on the pulley. That’s because the small diameter means only a few teeth of the belt are in contact with the pulley at once. So 100% of the load of you braking and accelerating is spread across only a few teeth. For the wheel pulley, the diameter is larger so there is more tooth engagement. Many have successfully printed wheel pulleys.

Motor pulleys should be steel. Aluminum is not often recommended but I have no experience with it

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To follow up my last post.

I’ll add more to the OP soon and will cover this in more detail.

If your 3D printing interests include(especially if they make up the majority of) making structural components that need to have high strength or high temperature resistance, then you should prioritize an enclosure for your printer. I’m mentioning this now as I’m sure those of you who have purchased one and are thinking about where to put it. Many of the strongest and highest temperature resistant materials require an enclosure to print, especially any large parts. The nicest version to me for these form factors is the ikea lack enclosure. It’s a DIY solution, available on thingiverse. There are also creality made “tents”. I’m not sure what they cost but they look identical to indoor grow tents. Buy something close to the size of the printer.

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This!

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My bad. I totally meant WHEEL pulley :man_facepalming:t2:

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I have been testing with this and I would personally recommend waiting until you can reliably print ABS. PETG has been used by many successfully and it may be sufficient, I haven’t tested it yet.
Remember if these fail, they could lock a wheel up or you may lose brakes. So print, test, test, test before going at speeds.
For example, I take my board, upside down, run it to speed and mash my foot against the wheel to abruptly stop it. This is just one of my first tests to simulate the forces the pulleys will experience before I ever put myself on the thing

Ive been testing some 3D printed ABEC pushfit pulleys (no bolt through) and ABS seems to be holding. Taulman 910 will be my final solution. That’s for the hubs more than the pulleys.

The bigger the diameter of the wheel pulley the less load each tooth will have on it from the belt.

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I think @mccloed prints PETG? Pulleys and hasn’t had any problem. I was wondering about ABS (once I get the hang of it) but woundn’t shrinkage be an issue? I was also going to go with press fit instead of using a ring and bolts.

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