Key Takeaways

  • Direct drive extruder: Improves filament feeding, reduces clogging, and enables flexible filaments.
  • Glass bed: Prevents warping, improves adhesion, and gives a smooth bottom layer.
  • Firmware upgrade: Adds features, improves safety, and enables compatibility with other upgrades.
  • Laser engraver: Allows you to engrave and cut various materials with your Ender 3.

The Ender 3 is one of the most upgradable and versatile budget 3D printers.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered plenty of both paid and open-source Ender 3 mods that have allowed my device to punch above its price point.

Everything from ease of use, printer longevity and (most importantly) print quality can be improved by using some of the best Ender 3 upgrades.

I recommend starting with simpler, pre-built kits, especially if you’re a first-time modifier. You can expand into more technical DIY mods as you get more comfortable with upgrading your Ender 3.In this guide, I’ll help you prioritize where to start with upgrading your Ender 3 based on your needs, and help you skip the mistakes I see a lot of beginners make.

Ender 3 V2 Neo
During my test of the Ender 3 V2 Neo 3D printer. Copyright: 3DSourced ©.

Why is the Creality Ender 3 a good choice for upgrades?

All the main Ender 3, V2, S1, and Neo models are ideal for upgrading.

And, if you haven’t bought your Ender 3 yet, check our guide comparing every Ender 3 model, or browse the Creality store below:

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At 3DSourced, we have personally owned, tested and reviewed the Ender 3 V2 Neo, and Ender 3 S1 Pro.

Ender 3s come partially assembled, with tools and instructions included, making them engaging, easy to understand, and affordable. The Ender 3 range is also open-source, making it easy to upgrade, so you can develop your printer along with your skills.

3D printing modifications allow you to be sure you’re getting exactly the parts you need, from board covers to cable chains.

Ender 3 V2 Neo
During my test of the Ender 3 V2 Neo 3D printer. Copyright: 3DSourced ©.

Ender 3 Direct Drive Upgrades

E3D Hemera Direct Drive Kit

E3D Hemera Direct Drive Kit

The impressive E3D Hemera stands as one of the best options for an Ender 3 Direct Drive upgrade. E3D has plenty of goodwill in 3D printing circles for shipping super high-quality and reliable parts.

This premium kit delivers a superb extruder grip on the filament, leading to precise control, responsive retractions, and near-flawless print quality.

The Hemera Kit contains a stepper motor, extruder, E3D V6 hot end, and all the rest needed to install the upgrade on the Ender 3. As for compatibility, the E3D Hemera slots just as well into the classic Ender 3 as in later models like the Ender 3 V2 and Ender 3 Pro. 

Thanks to excellent installation instructions, setup is relatively straightforward for what is generally a fairly complex upgrade. E3D even provides STL files for a 3D printed adaptor mount and duct fan.

Creality Sprite Direct Drive Upgrade

Creality Sprite Direct Drive

For years, Ender 3 owners wanting a direct drive upgrade had to look to third-party options, but with the arrival of the Ender 3 S1’s Sprite extruder system, Creality now offers its own option. 

This upgrade effectively levels up your Ender 3 to an Ender 3 S1 in terms of pure print performance.

What you get here is one of the most meaningful upgrades to the Ender 3 line-up bundled into a kit that is compatible with all Bowden extruder Ender 3 models, including the Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, and Ender 3 Max. Better yet, the extruder kit is designed specifically for the Ender 3 and those looking for an option with guaranteed compatibility.

The Sprite works with temperatures up to 300°C, opening the door to printing more demanding filament types. It also features a beefed-up extruder with dual-gear feeding and an extrusion force up to 80N – far superior grip and control than the stock Ender 3 Bowden setup.

The Sprite kit also wins points for being significantly cheaper than many competitor kits.

Ender 3 Dual Extruder Upgrades

Ender 3 dual extrusion upgrades transform it to print two different filament colors or types at the same time, opening the door for more complex and visually striking parts and models. 

Due to the natural limitations of the Ender 3’s frame and design, a true dual extruder setup isn’t possible, but there are workarounds that provide almost the same function.

Mosaic Palette 3 / Pro

The Moisaic Palette 3 is the simplest way to upgrade the Ender 3 with a dual extruder solution without pulling your Ender 3 apart in the process. The best part: you don’t have to actively modify your printer to get multi-color and multi-filament printing.

It’s a standalone box that takes care of the color/material swapping for you, feeding them as and when the print requires it into the Ender 3, which prints as normal. The Palette 3 uses up to eight filament strands and combines them into a single strand of filament that’s then fed into the printer, automatically switching based on the multi-color model you send it.

This simplicity and, let’s face it, luxury, does come at a price though, so may not be a viable solution for those looking for a cheaper solution.

Cyclops Hot End

  • Price: around $100
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus
Cyclops Hot End

The Cyclops Hot End is a DIY solution that uses 3D printed parts and an E3D Cyclops hot end for dual extrusion capabilities. 

The idea is to use the E3D Cyclops hot end, which can jump between two filament colors or materials mid-print to mirror the performance of dual extruder setup. 

This makes it more of a filament management system than a true dual extruder system, but the results are very much the same. You can do multi-color prints, and multi-material prints, and it can even mix filaments together for some unique results. 

You’ll have to print out a special mount, and as a DIY project, there are instructions and files to guide you through the upgrades.

Ender 3 Firmware upgrades

While perfectly serviceable, the stock Ender 3 firmware has plenty of room for improvement, and a firmware upgrade is not just a smart way to improve your printer and add features – but also make it safer. 

This is mainly because the stock firmware doesn’t have thermal runaway protection enabled as standard, so upgrading gives you peace of mind.

Official Creality Ender 3 Firmware Upgrade

  • Price: Free
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus

If you want ease and convenience and want to avoid having to tweak code yourself, then Creality’s selection of official firmware updates is the way to go. 

These are geared to suit the Ender 3, so you’ll have no compatibility issues, and there’s a version for every model of the Ender 3. These range from older 8-bit mainboards and the newer 32-bit V4.2.2 and V4.2.7 boards found on the older Ender 3s to the most recent Ender 3 S1 and Ender 3 Neo boards.

On Creality’s official forum, you’ll find all the firmware versions available, including for all Ender 3s as well as specific hardware upgrades such as BLTouch and filament runout sensors. 

Marlin 2.0

  • Price: Free
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus
Firmware Update

As old as the DIY RepRap printers that brought 3D printing to the masses, Marlin firmware is an open-source option that pairs particularly well with all Ender 3 models. 

And, realistically, there’s no better sign of quality than when numerous other 3D printer manufacturers base their own firmware on Marlin… 

The difference with going straight to the source and using Marlin 2.0 is the wealth of features, options for configuration and tinkering, and the firmware’s in-built adaptability. 

If your printer is decked out with all the best upgrades and you need that extra degree of freedom, Marlin serves this up in droves – with automatic bed leveling, power loss recovery, PID heater control, and much more. 

And if you prefer to avoid any coding, Marlin has pre-configured profiles suited to all Ender 3 models. There’s a huge community of users to help with any unusual setups, issues, and general troubleshooting, so you’re never left to deal with a problem alone.

Ender 3 Enclosures

Buying an Ender 3 enclosure is essential if you’re 3D printing ABS, Nylon, and any other high-temp filaments prone to warping. 

Here are our top picks to wrap your Ender 3 in a heat-containing cocoon.

Official Creality Ender 3 Enclosure

  • Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 Neo, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus
Creality Ender 3 Enclosure

Creality offers its very own enclosure solution designed specifically for the Ender 3. What I like so much here is the simplicity: no complex assembly, high prices, or major limitations. The Creality tent enclosure covers all the main filaments: ASA, PC, ABS, and pretty much any other heat-sensitive material.

You can set it up in minutes. It consists of a rigid iron pipe frame draped with a heat-containing cover, with an aluminum film and flame-resistant fabric for extra peace should the worst happen and the printer catches fire. 

The tent is even designed to reduce noise, so you get a slightly quieter printing experience. The enclosure also has a zipped window for easy access and monitoring, along with a handy tool pocket to help keep your workspace tidy.


Taking the DIY route, the Ikea LACK enclosure is a favorite among makers, and involves taking one of the Swedish manufacturers flagship tables and retooling it to fit an Ender 3. 

The table is used as is, but with added acrylic panes on the back, front, and sides using 3D printed brackets to create a much cheaper contained chamber.

Though the project can seem a bit daunting, there are now LACK kits with pre-cut acrylic panels with all the right holes, brackets, hardware, and magnets to piece together the enclosure extremely quickly.

An extra benefit is that you can customize the enclosure to suit your printer, by adding LED lights, spool holders, vents, heaters, thermometers, and much more. A popular option is to stack multiple LACK tables on top of one another to have an enclosure along with easily accessible storage space for filament and tools.

Ender 3 Auto Bed Leveling Upgrades

These upgrades only apply to the earliest Ender 3 models that don’t have built-in ABL: the Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 Max, and Ender 3 V2.

CR Touch Auto Bed Leveling Kit

  • Price: $40  
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Max
ender 3 upgrade cr touch auto leveling kit

While Ender 3 models don’t have auto-leveling features by default, you can cheaply upgrade the Ender 3 to auto-level with the CR Touch upgrade kit.

Manual leveling adds extra time, hassle, and generally having auto-leveling improves your 3D printing experience. Having to manually re-level your printer every few prints is an annoyance, and human error can affect prints.

If you want more options, check out my dedicated guide to the best Ender 3 auto-leveling kits.

Ender 3 Glass Bed Upgrades

The main problem that kept cropping up with the original Ender 3 models was print bed warping.  Fortunately, this was resolved with the Ender 3 V2 and newer printers, which come with a glass print bed as standard.

If you have the Ender 3 Pro, or an original Ender 3, then replacing the original aluminum print bed with a tempered glass bed prevents print bed issues, and also gives you a smoother finish on the bottom of your prints.

For more options, check out my dedicated article on the best Ender 3 glass bed options.

Official Creality Tempered Ender 3 Glass Bed

Creality Tempered Ender 3 Glass Bed

The official Creality tempered Ender 3 glass bed fits flush on the printer’s surface and is secured by a set of four clips for a secure fit. 

It’s suitable for temperatures up to 400°C, and has a wear and scratch-resistant surface with nano-molecular coating to improve adhesion.

Ender 3 Extension Kits

An extension kit allows you to expand the printable surface on the Ender 3 suitable for more ambitious and larger projects without having to buy a larger printer. 

Here’s a selection of my favorite Ender 3 extension kits:

Ender Extender 400 Z Height Kit

Ender Extender 400 Z Height Kit

The Ender Extender 400 Z Height Kit extends the Ender 3’s Z-height to 400 mm, which is almost far more than the Ender’s standard 250 mm.

As the kit is only on the vertical height, installation is relatively straightforward. With this, you can print much taller parts and models like large vases, cosplay weapons, tall storage solutions, and many more projects.

Ender Extender 300

  • Price: $160
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro
Ender Extender 300

If you’re after an extender that expands the Ender 3’s X and Y axes, then the Ender Extender 300 is the way to go. It extends the Ender 3’s build surface to 300 x 300 x 250 mm – for those projects that just won’t fit on the stock Ender 3. 

Installation is quite involved as you’re making major changes to the printer’s frame, but excellent in-depth guides and pictures are provided to guide you along the way.

Ender 3 Bowden Tube Upgrades

The Ender 3 Bowden extruder setup is often the root cause of issues that affect print performance and quality. Therefore, one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make is to swap out the stock tube for a more durable alternative.

Capricorn Bowden PTFE Tube

Capricorn Bowden PTFE Tube

There’s really only one option when it comes to replacing the stock Ender 3 tubing, and that is Capricorn’s PTFE tubing, widely regarded as the best out there. 

Though the company offers many variants, the Capricorn XS tubing features a tighter inner diameter and lubricating additives to reduce friction and avoid clogging and jamming. This is perfect for printing flexible filaments.

Ender 3 Fan Upgrades

Cooling is always a factor in 3D printing, a balancing act of sorts that can lead to excellent prints or absolute failures. 

Though the stock setup is fine, you can make some targeted upgrades to the Ender 3’s fan to improve overall performance, both to the fans themselves and to the part cooling fan duct.

Noctua NF-A4

  • Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 Neo, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus
Noctua NF-A4

Usually used to keep PCs cool and silent, the Noctua NF-A4 also doubles as a superb Ender 3 fan. 

It’s available in a range of sizes, including 40 x 10 mm and 40 x 20 mm, to replace the part cooling and hot end fans.


  • Price: filament cost, 3D printed
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro
Petsfang dual fan duct
Source: Reddit

Praised among Ender 3 owners, the Petsfang fan duct design consists of dual ducts mounted on both sides of the nozzle to provide optimal cooling. Pair it with a Noctua NF-A40-x10 fan, and there’s little this upgrade can tackle. 

You’ll find Petsfang versions for most Ender 3 models, along with variants for different hot ends, ABL probes, and extruder types.

Ender 3 Laser Engraver Upgrades

An increasingly popular trend in 3D printing is to add a laser engraver to your Ender 3

Here are some of the best options available.

Creality Basic Laser Engraver Upgrade

Laser Engraver Upgrade

Creality Basic Laser Engraver Upgrade is one of the best options for most users, as it’s easy to install, and designed specifically for Ender 3 printers. It attaches directly to the printer, and can engrave plastic, paper, acrylic, ceramic and wood. 

However, due to the weakness of the laser, it really isn’t suited to cutting. You could conceivably cut wood and cardboard, for example, but only with multiple passes. 

For later Ender 3 models, there’s also more powerful laser upgrades for the Ender 3 S1 & S1 Pro, and an updated laser module with 10W power, Creality Updated Laser Module, which is much better suited for laser cutting.

Endurance 15W Laser

  • Price: $1,600
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus
Endurance 15W Laser

If you’re looking for something more robust with the wattage to tear through pretty much any material, we recommend the Endurance 15 W Laser. 

The upgrade is specifically for the Ender 3, which makes it more of a DIY project than Creality alternatives, but for the flexibility it offers, it’s certainly worth the extra effort. 
The only downside is the high price tag, which is honestly not good value. To put it in perspective, the 20W xTool D1 Pro is less than this, yet offers 5W more power as a standalone machine. The only advantage over this is you save space in a cramped workshop by having your laser capabilities within one machine.

Ender 3 Hot End Upgrades

An upgraded Ender 3 hot end is ideal if you want to boost print quality, speed, and print more material types by upping the max temperature threshold. 

Here are our favorite options.

E3D V6 All-Metal Hot End

E3D V6 All-Metal Hot End

E3D is widely known for high quality, and the E3D V6 All-Metal Hot End is no exception. This all-metal hot end has a max temperature of 300°C, meaning your Ender 3 will be set up to tackle more demanding, heat-sensitive filaments like Nylon, PC, PP, and ASA.

The hot end also benefits you by removing the notoriously unreliable internal PTFE tubing on the Ender 3, which reduces maintenance needs and improves overall retraction thanks to a smoother inner surface.

Phateus Dragonfly BMS

Phateus Dragonfly BMS

The Phateus Dragonfly BMS is a favorite for experienced makers. Unabashedly a premium option, it’s made of copper alloy to improve heat transfer and dissipation, a conical heat break fitting free of PTFE, and a smooth inner path to reduce flow issues, ease retraction, and reduce clogs and jams. 

It can reach a max temperature of 500°C, which means compatibility with PEEK, PEI, Nylon, Carbon fiber, and PC, to name a few. 

The quality of the parts is nothing short of superb, which translates to significantly better out-of-the-box printing performance than the comparatively poor stock Ender 3 hot end. Perhaps it’s overkill, as industrial filaments will require higher heated bed temperatures than the Ender 3 supports, but it’s a fantastic powerful option you still have at your disposal.

Ender 3 Controller Board / Mainboard Upgrades

The mainboard is both the brains and the conductor at the heart of the Ender 3. Upgrading the controller board can drastically improve 3D printing performance, especially on an older Ender 3 running a dated 8-bit board, that doesn’t play nice with the most recent firmware and doesn’t have the drivers to tame loud motor noises.

Creality 4.2.7 Mainboard

Creality 4.2.7 Mainboard

One of the main draws of the Creality 4.2.7 Mainboard is the silent TMC 2208 stepper motor drivers, which drastically reduce noise levels compared to the basic Ender 3 mainboard. 

Alongside, the mainboard boosts memory to 32-bit, opening the door to more functionality and features, including add-on ports for expansion, automatic bed leveling, filament runout sensors, and thermal runaway protection. The Creality V4.2.7 is also compatible with Marlin 2.0, so worth pairing with a firmware upgrade.

BigTreeTech SKR Mini V3.0 Mainboard

BigTreeTech SKR Mini V3.0 Mainboard

The BigTreeTech SKR Mini V3.0 Mainboard stands next to Creality’s own option as one of the best ways to upgrade the Ender 3 controller board. 

The low price, popularity, dedication to open source, and number of online guides and documentation are great, but it’s the broader range of functionality and features on offer that really appeals to me.

Automatic bed leveling, RG lighting, TMC2209 stepper motors, UART mode, filament runout sensors, dual Z-axis motors, Z probe – you can do all of these with the BigTreeTech SKR Mini V3.0 Mainboard. 

The board is sized to fit snugly into the Ender 3, making it a fairly painless drop-in replacement that even beginners won’t find too daunting.

Ender 3 Single-Board Computer Upgrades

If you want to integrate an SBC for OctoPrint functionality or remote monitoring, then a single-board computer upgrade is a relatively easy one. Though there are other options out there, the Raspberry Pi stands as the optimal choice, offering flexibility at a competitive price.

Raspberry Pi

  • Price: depends on the model / Check latest price at Amazon here
  • Compatibility: Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Max, Ender 3 Neo, Ender 3 V2 Neo, Ender 3 Max Neo, Ender 3 S1, Ender 3 S1 Pro, Ender 3 S1 Plus
Raspberry Pi Case

The Raspberry Pi circuit board allows you to run OctoPrint, a browser control interface that lets you monitor and control every aspect of your 3D print experience.

Installing a Raspberry Pi is a simple process, and mainly involves printing a case, the size of which depends on which Raspberry Pi you’ve purchased. Since Raspberry Pis range from $20 – $140, so you’ll want to think well about which one you want to upgrade your Ender 3.

With the case built and the Raspberry Pi installed, all you need is a firmware update before you can see and alter the print temperature, get print status feedback, and even stop and start your print job from anywhere there’s an internet connection.


What upgrades should I get for Ender 3?

Some of the best Ender 3 upgrades include an all-metal extruder or direct drive extruder upgrade, a Capricorn-branded Bowden PTFE tube, a glass bed, and a BL-Touch automatic bed leveling probe rank. These will make the biggest difference to overall print performance, as well ease of use.

What upgrades should I get for my Ender 3 Pro?

Some of the best Ender 3 Pro upgrades include a tempered glass build plate, an all-metal extruder or a direct drive extruder like Creality’s Sprite kit, a better hot end like an E3D RapidChange Revo CR or Phaetus Dragongfly BMS, an improved 3D printed duct fan, branded Capicorn Bowden PTFE tubing, and a Creality 4.2.7 mainboard upgrade.

Is the Ender 3 upgradable?

Yes, the Ender 3 is one of the most upgrade-friendly printers on the market today due to its open-source design. Much of this is down to just how popular the Ender 3 is: a huge community of users have created DIY upgrades, and both Creality and other manufactures have created upgrades specifically for the Ender 3.

How do I make my Ender 3 print better?

There are several things you can do to improve your Ender 3’s printing performance: regularly level the bed, use the right slicer settings for the material you’re printing with, calibrate E-steps, and finally consider upgrades such as an automatic bed leveling probe, a new build plate, an upgrade to a direct drive extruder, and replacing the Bowden tubing with a more robust alternative.

What are the best upgrades for the Ender 3 V2?

Some of the best upgrades for the Ender 3 V2 include a PEI magnetic build plate, an all-metal extruder or a direct drive extruder kit, upgrading to a higher quality Bowden PTFE tube, installing an all-metal hot end from a reputable brand like Micro Swiss, and 3D printed parts such as a fan duct, cable management solutions, and belt tensioners, along with swapping out the mainboard for a better quality alternative like the BTT SKR Mini 3.0.

What upgrades should I get for Ender 3 V2 Neo?

Some of the best upgrades for the Ender 3 V2 Neo include an all-metal hot end and heat break, a branded Capricorn Bowden PTFE tube, an improved 3D printed hot end and part cooling, and upgrading to a direct drive extruder system. There’s also a range of optional 3D printable DIY upgrades such as bed handles, cable management solutions, and fan shrouds.

If you enjoyed this article, check our other Ender 3 upgrade guides to learn more:

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Scott Hamill

Scott Hamill is a seasoned professional 3D printing and technology writer based in Edinburgh, renowned for his comprehensive coverage of 3D printing. His interest began during his college years, sparked by a peer's project to build a 3D printer for a Master's thesis more than a decade ago. Scott specializes in covering hobbyist 3D printing projects for 3DSourced, having written more than 100 guides to projects you can download and print at home. He has also contributed and authored articles for various other websites on 3D printing. Scott's tenure with 3DSourced spans over three years, establishing himself as a reliable and insightful voice in the 3D printing community.

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